Tough times in Titletown

Injuries, frustration mount after 0-4 start

Packers coach Mike Sherman used the first two minutes of his mid-week press conference to update the media on the injuries to his team. The Packers have been hit hard in the offensive line; they've lost a linebacker for an extended period of time; and their star running back is hobbled, but those are just a few of the problems Green Bay has encountered this season.

Sherman is visibly frustrated with the mess his team is in. After five straight winning seasons and never starting 0-4, it's easy to understand why. The Packers have come close to winning, but that's about it. The Packers have lost the last three games by a total of six points. Brett Favre, despite his eight interceptions, is playing well, however, the rest of the team has found ways to hurt itself with penalties and turnovers.

Sherman, who maintains a never-to-high-never-too-low demeanor, was short with some of his responses to questions Wednesday. Obviously, he is getting less enthused than ever about facing the media without a win this season. Fortunately, for the family dog, he's not using it as a punching bag to release tension. But the coach took a moment during his press conference to lighten up a little.

"I go home and kick the dog anyway because I don't like it. Never did," he said humorously. "So, kicking the dog is not a problem. I don't need extra motivation for it. (pause) Kick myself, maybe.

"It's been difficult. It's challenging. I look at it in this business and the reason I'm in this business is because of the challenges you're presented with. They motivate me. This is certainly plenty challenging right now. And, hopefully, we can rise to the occasion, accept the challenge and do some things that people certainly don't expect us to do at this present point. I find it very challenge, and that's not always a bad thing. Being 0-4 is a bad thing, but the challenge is there."

Since 1990, when the NFL expanded the postseason field from 10 to 12 teams, only one of 51 teams with an 0-4 start rallied to get into the playoffs - the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who won 11 of their final 12 regular-season games.

To think that the Packers will make the playoffs this season is ridiculous. They simply have too much youth (11 rookies) and injuries to starters that will allow this to happen. Plus, the Packers are finishing up the "easy" part of their schedule. After next week's bye, Green Bay kicks off a stretch of games at Minnesota and Cincinnati. From there, they host Pittsburgh and travel to play at Atlanta. It is not a stretch to think that the Packers could be 0-9 at that point.

The situation Green Bay is in this season is much different than last year when it started 1-4 and finished 10-6. Last year, the team didn't have nearly as many injuries to starters and had a dominant offensive line.

The only thing that will prevent the Packers from being winless for another month is their attitude, and the team's ability to deal with injuries. Thus far, the Packers have played hard during games and have fought back, despite big deficits. Favre, for one, is not raising the white flag on this season, which is encouraging.

"I'm going to practice as hard as I can (this week) and act like we're 4-0. Pouting doesn't do any good. Moping around, pointing fingers at other guys doesn't do any good. Other guys may do that. That's fine; they won't be around long. I believe in our guys, whoever plays this week. We'll find out what guys are made of. We'll see who shows up and who doesn't show up."

Green Bay's best bet of winning a game is this Sunday against the Saints (2-2). This is a make or break game for the Packers' fragile psychy. If Green Bay wins, it has something to build on. If not, the team probably will continue its free fall.

New Orleans will be no pushover for Green Bay by any means. Especially if the Packers play without tackle Chad Clifton (ankle). Center Mike Flanagan will be out indefinitely after undergoing a hernia operation. Ahman Green has been limping around the locker room with a bruised quadriceps and knee. Backup receiver Terrence Murphy may not return at all this season after a scary neck injury Monday. The Saints are middle of the road in most categories, but are ranked sixth in the league in passing defense (178 yards per game). Favre's ability to pass Green Bay into games has been the Packers' few strengths this season.

Winning a few games will give the Packers some hope because they play in a division filled from top to bottom with downtrodden teams, with only two games separating all of them.

As Favre said matter-of-factly, however, "Our main concern is to win (but) we can't do anything unless we win."

That's easier said than done with the 2005 Packers.


Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


Packer Report Top Stories