Lombardi: 'Head Football'

I used to work with a guy who always called the Head Coach we worked for "Head Football."

Whenever he passed something on or told us something the Head Coach wanted or said, he would always say something like, "Head Football wants this done." Why he did it, I do not know, but I always liked it. It was different. We knew his name. We knew he was the Head Coach, so why the different designation? Socially, he called the head coach by his first name, but at work he was Head Football. Probably some attempt to distance the personal from the professional.

So what about Head Football? He is probably on vacation right now and he heads into the season with his future up in the air. He has a new boss, who took his old job. He did not get any obvious help in the draft. A quarterback is not what a coach with his job on the line and a suspect defense hopes for in the first round. He did get some defensive help in the draft, but none of those picks seem to offer instant help. They may be blockbuster guys and make Ted Thompson look like a genius, but confidence is not high that these rookies will step in and make an immediate impact.

His best wideout is holding out. His most valuable defensive player is threatening to do so. His tight end is upset with his contract situation and his problem child defensive tackle is missing in action. Only a few of the draft picks have signed, and camp is two weeks out. His workhorse running back had a run in with the law and his shut down corner was under investigation for something. He lost an All-Pro guard and another who should have been. The salary cap made these two last moves inevitable, but it seems that attrition is taking its toll on the playoff team he built. Darren Sharper bolted for the Vikings and left with hard feelings.

On the plus side, he has Brett Favre back and in great shape. He hired Jim Bates to shape up the defense. The offensive line still has some great players. Ahman Green can take over a game when he is healthy. William Henderson, Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher help make this backfield one of the best in the league. Assuming Robert Ferguson recovers from his late season beck injury, the receivers are pretty good, even without Javon Walker.

In spite of Bates, the defense is still suspect, but that has not changed much from last year. Head Football has a good kicker and a big question mark at punter. He needs a better return game and his special teams are too unreliable to create much confidence in anyone who is honest about it.

But as I have said in the past, this is why they play the game. All of this looks bad on paper. The negatives outweigh the positives at this moment in time. Much of this will clear up in two weeks leading up to camp. The holdouts will slowly come into the fold. The draft picks will agree to their contracts. The practices will begin and then the coaching will get done.

Head Football is at a pivotal point in his career. He has never been more vulnerable than he is going into this season. His fate rests on his shoulders and his future will be determined by the results on the field. Someone else will make the decision, but Head Football controls the outcome. If he can take his team and get into the playoffs, he should be around next year. He may need to win a playoff game to insure his return, but I think that will be circumstantial. If this team underachieves or slumps, which is a distinct possibility? That would obviously be bad for him.

I would imagine that most of us would agree to such an arrangement. Obvious and reachable goals, the authority and the resources to get it done and easily measured results. Throw in a ton of money and the deal would be acceptable to me. Perform and you get rewarded. Falter and you move on. Mike Sherman no doubt agrees, otherwise he would be doing something else. At some point during the year, the decision will be made about Sherman's future and then it will be interesting to see what name follows the title.

John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. John resides with his family in Green Bay . His football experience includes stints with two teams in the World League (now NFL Europe); in the scouting departments of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans; and graduate assistant coach and director of football operations at Vanderbilt. He will be contributing columns for PackerReport.com.

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