Lombardi: Random thoughts

Evaluating present personnel, and looking ahead to 2006

I was all set to write eloquently about the Packers loss in Baltimore, but there were so many ideas and I could not focus on just one, so I decided to address as many as possible:

Brett Favre
I have watched Favre for many years now and have always marveled at his talent and toughness. I have held my breath each and every time he throws the ball deep. The last few weeks have found me out of breath. I know he is trying to make a play, but he is making bad decisions and is costing his team more than he is giving to it. He needs to stop throwing into double and triple coverage. His receivers are not helping and he does not have a running game to lean on, but he has to stop throwing it up for grabs.

Aaron Rodgers
Well, he got in and it was done appropriately in my opinion. The game was out of hand and there was no reason for Favre to continue playing. Get the youngster in there and see what he can do. He made some good throws and looked in command. He did make a bad throw on that interception and had a few costly fumbles. Those mistakes are rookie mistakes that he will hopefully outgrow with more playing time and experience. I was pleased with what I saw. I still would ride Favre the rest of the year, unless the last two games get out of control.

Wide Receivers
Donald Driver cannot do it all on his own. Antonio Chatman is a good fifth receiver and Robert Ferguson seems lost out there. He fails to get separation from the defender; he does not seem to adjust to an airborne ball, and seems to be seeing something completely different than his quarterback. He is not fighting for the ball.

The Running Game
Has any other team gone through six running backs in a season?

The Defense
The defense was one of the lone bright spots on this year's team, until Monday. The defense let a team that had only once scored more than 20 points in a game this season score 48 points. Seven of those points were on defense, but that is beyond the point. They had 21 by halftime.

Kyle Boller resurrected his career with three touchdown passes against the league's number-one pass defense. Al Harris looked ordinary. The defensive line did very little to distinguish itself, and the linebackers never seemed to get off any blocks. It seemed like they were just playing out the clock. Jim Bates is getting a lot of deserved credit for the improvement of the defense and, in some circles, he is being touted as the next head coach of the team, but does Monday night's outing reflect on him, on the head coach, or both? Or should we admit that the players are the ones who play and coaches can only do so much?

The Head Coach
I like Mike Sherman. I respect him. He is a hard-working, organized man. When I boil it all down, I do not think his performance requires that he be fired, but I am not sure he has done anything to save his job either. It is a classic paradox and will determine the future of Ted Thompson, Mike Sherman and the mental health of all Packer fans over the next few years.

Looking Forward to Next Year
• Favre needs to let them know very quickly as to his intentions.

• The offensive line needs help from guard to guard. Mike Flanigan may be back, but at what cost and at what level. The tackles are fine. The draft should be used to get a lineman, even if they have to move Mark Tauscher to guard.

• Donald Driver and perhaps Chatman (4th WR at best) are the only two healthy receivers who need remain on the 2006 roster.

• KGB should be traded or they should try something like the Ravens do with Adalius Thomas. Freelance him, disguise him, or trade him.

• The linebackers are in dire need of overhaul. Move Nick Barnett outside, keep Na'il Diggs. Keep the rookies on special teams and develop them.

• Without a better pass rush, the secondary was exposed. They need a minimum of one more safety, one more corner. Two would be better, but they need to upgrade at corner and safety.

• They need to pressure the passer somehow.

Ryan Longwell will probably leave and will need to be replaced, but at a low cost.

John Lombardi

Editor's note: John Lombardi is the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi. 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. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.

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