Coach deserves another shot

Unless Packers implode down stretch, Sherman will be back in 2006

There is still a lot to play for in the last five games of the season for Mike Sherman. Not that the coach takes any game lightly. With Steve Mariucci out there on the free agent market for coaches, many Packers fans feel he should take over at the helm next season in Green Bay instead of Sherman.

But before you anoint Mariucci the team's 14th head coach, consider the situation in Green Bay. The only way that scenario will happen is if the Packers completely fall on their face in the final five games of the season. Completely. If Green Bay gets blown out by its opponents and if the team continues to turn the ball over and is awful in the process, a coaching change will be in order. Chances of this happening are slim. If anything, the Packers could, and probably should, be able to win three of their last five games this season.

Let's say the Packers win three of their final five games. Is a 5-11 record reason for dismissal? No. As much as fans want Mariucci, who was fired by the Detroit Lions Monday, to return to Green Bay, expect general manager Ted Thompson to stick with Sherman. Why? With the exception of Brett Favre and a few other veterans, Sherman has had to coach a team that is in the process of being rebuilt by Thompson. Despite the youth scattered around the team and injuries that wiped out two skill positions, the Packers have remained competitive this season. Give Sherman a little credit here. Sure, they've lost games, but Sherman isn't the one fumbling the ball away, throwing interceptions, or allowing runners to break tackles.

As a frequent visitor to the locker room, it seems as if players and coaches respect Sherman. The team is playing hard. The defense has improved this season. The offense has suffered from its own mistakes. Special teams have been awful. So, expect a coaching change at that position, whether Sherman is retained or not.

There is value to coaching continuity in the NFL. Denver has stuck with Mike Shanahan despite a few disappointing seasons, and Pittsburgh didn't suddenly drop Bill Cowher when the team finished with a losing record. Overall, those two franchises have been quite successful over the last decade. The Packers haven't had a losing record since 1991. Just because the Packers have a down year this year doesn't suddenly mean they're turning into the Arizona Cardinals.

With few free agent moves in the off-season, the Packers were practically doomed from the start. The flip side of going with young players are mistakes. The Packers have been competitive this season, but they have made mistakes, Brett Favre has struggled at times, and the offense has had injuries at key positions. That has added up to a 2-9 record.

Sherman is a highly organized, loyal, tireless coach determined to win games for Green Bay no matter the circumstances. He's proud to be coaching the Packers. Giving up on him at this point doesn't make sense, especially since he's under contract for next season. If the team gives up down the stretch and embarrasses the organization like the Lions did with Mariucci this season, that's another story. But don't expect that happen.

Sherman is a good coach and next year he could lead the team to a big season. It would be tough to imagine a new coach and new staff adjusting in time to take the Packers deep into the playoffs.

As long as the Packers are competitive till the end of the season, Sherman deserves at least another season with the return of some injured players, a few new assistants who can help turn special teams around, and Favre. Yes, expect Favre to return in 2006. He still enjoys playing the game and can be effective as long as he makes smarter decisions. With most of the staff in place for next year, a high draft pick, and the defense with one season under Jim Bates, look for the Packers to rebound strong in 2006 under Sherman.

Todd Korth is managing editor of Packer Report and E-mail him at

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