No, of course it's not Mike's fault. But since I can't fire the team, I need to do something.
Apparently some newspapers read my mind. So let me explain why I'm considering stripping Mike Sherman of his role as general manager.
First, I think he's done a good job as coach. With a 53-27 record and three straight NFC North championships, it's not like Mike is Ray Rhodes. This year's team started 1-4, and Mike turned that around. The part that impressed me most is not that the team started winning. There's plenty of talent and wins are expected. But the players easily could have quit on Mike but they didn't. That to me shows Mike has the respect of the players.
Where Mike has fallen short is on the personnel side. Certainly, that's not all Mike's fault. It's not like he's a czar and the only one watching film until 3 a.m. But maybe we need a fresh set of eyes and someone with more time to devote to the business of scouting college football players.
Any way you slice it, Mike's last two drafts have not been very good. With a team so close to getting back to the Super Bowl and without the salary-cap space to improve ourselves in free agency, the draft is the only way to get better.
In 2003, we drafted nine players. Only Nick Barnett gets on the field on a regular basis. In 2004, we drafted six players. Our first-rounder, Carroll, was tormented all season. The rest of the guys, other than seventh-round pick Scott Wells, weren't factors. As the saying goes, if you're not getting better, you're getting worse.
For the third straight year, Mike traded our second-round pick. It worked in 2002 because it let us get Walker. It worked in 2003 because it yielded starting cornerback Al Harris. In 2004, though, we sent that pick to Jacksonville for a third- and a fourth-round pick. The third-rounder was used on defensive tackle Donnell Washington, who looks like a bust. The fourth-rounder along with a fifth-rounder was shipped to Miami so we could get another third-round pick, which we used infamously on B.J. Sander.
Even I didn't quite understand the Sander deal and I'm this team's No. 1 fan. A punter in the third round? Making matters worse, he really struggled. Some would say he choked. He shanked a couple punts in the Family Night Scrimmage, and didn't get any better in the preseason. For some reason, Mike kept Sander on the roster all season. Mike felt if he cut Sander and then tried to re-sign him to the practice squad, another team would have stolen him from us. I'm not so sure about that. Either way, it really hurt to waste a roster spot on Sander. Especially when Robert Ferguson was injured and we didn't have the flexibility to add another wide receiver to the roster. So, when Walker was hurt in the playoff game, we only had three healthy receivers healthy.
I realize hindsight is 20-20, and maybe it wouldn't have worked with our salary cap, but we had a chance to send Najeh Davenport to Miami for Adewale Ogunleye. The Dolphins were desperate for a high-quality running back when Ricky Williams retired. Ogunleye led the AFC sacks in 2003. Ogunleye would have helped our pass rush, which would have helped our secondary. All it would have cost us was an injury-prone, second-string running back.
I know Mike's taken a lot of heat for our free-agent moves, but in his defense, free agency isn't a lot of help to teams like us, who are pressed tight against the salary cap. Mike's done a great job of keeping our key players here before they hit free agency. Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher and Ferguson are a few of the players Mike had the foresight to lock into long-term deals. Those deals, along with Brett's big contract, however, don't give us the flexibility to land difference-making players. Thus, Mike took chances on guys like Hardy Nickerson to fill critical positions.
Should I follow through on the rumors and remove the GM tag from Mike, know that this is not a knee-jerk reaction or simply change for the sake of making change. I have always said the two titles should be separated, that the two jobs are too much for one person. I know it's worked for guys like Bill Belichick and Andy Reid, but I think the two jobs should be handled by two people.
So now seems the perfect time to make a move and to split the roles. So which job is Mike better suited? Based on his drafts, his inability to find the players to push us over the top and his decision to replace Ed Donatell with Bob Slowik, it seems to me Mike is better suited to be the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Huber writes for packerreport.com. Contact him via e-mail at email@example.com