Gut feeling: Sherman's gone

Coach didn't get it done in close games this season

Near the end of Sunday's regular-season finale against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field, the 69,000-plus in attendance began chanting one more time, "One more year!"

The cheer was for Packers quarterback Brett Favre to return for the 2006 campaign, not for coach Mike Sherman. Based on the team's 4-12 finish, which mainly can be attributed to injuries, there are mixed opinions on Sherman's return.

On one hand, Sherman never played a full game with his opening-season starting lineup as Javon Walker tore up his knee during the Week 1 loss at Detroit. It got worse from there as the likes of Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and Bubba Franks, among others, were either lost for the season or missed significant time with injuries.

On the other hand, this team was either ahead or within striking distance in the fourth quarter in 15 of 16 games, but only managed four wins. Bad teams and poorly-coached teams find ways to lose. So, now that the season is over, what will general manager Ted Thompson do? You can bet he won't sit on his hands.

At the very least, expect Thompson to tell Sherman in order for him to save his job he must fire offensive coordinator Tom Rossley and special teams coach John Bonamego. If more heads roll, look for Sherman's.

There's no question Sherman never had a chance this season to lead his team into playoff contention. The hand he was dealt had no pairs, while most opponents were playing with full houses.

Firing Sherman might not be right, but it's Thompson's right to do what he wants. When Packers president Bob Harlan stripped Sherman of his GM role after last season and gave it to Thompson, Sherman became a lame-duck coach. He needed to succeed this season or suffer the consequences. Nobody could've forecasted the plethora of injuries the offense suffered, but injuries are part of the game, even if they decimate a team's chances of winning.

After Sunday's 23-17 win, Sherman's press conference dealt only with his and Favre's futures. There wasn't one question about the game. It was obvious the game played third fiddle to the two biggest off-season questions, and the media wasted no time.

Sherman didn't say anything we didn't already know, but he said there was no meeting planned between Thompson and himself – not yet, that is. With nothing decided, Sherman's showing up for work Monday, ready to toll up his sleeves and work like has planned all along.

"The things you don't have control over, you don't worry about," Sherman said. "I have control over my attitude, my perception, how I do things, and you do the very best job you can. Other people have control over other things and you let them do their jobs."

Sherman is wrong with his first comment – he has no control over this situation. He did from the start of the season and he and the team failed to meet reasonable expectations.

"Obviously every coach is measured by wins and losses, regardless of circumstances or situations, and we fell short in that area," Sherman admitted. "I take coaching to heart as a profession. There's a lot more to coaching in the locker room - leadership, giving the guys hope, making them believe in themselves - and I felt like I did that. But we fell short on the field." If Sherman is retained, it'll be based on his record – three NFC North Division titles and 53 wins in his first five years (more than any other coach in club history).

If Sherman is given the heave-ho, it'll be based on this season's failure, and Thompson's desire to put his stamp on the franchise by hiring "his" coach, whomever that is. That might not be fair to Sherman, but in the NFL coaches are hired to be fired unless your last name is Parcells, Holmgren or Gibbs.

Since this season became a lost cause, attention turned to Sherman's and Favre's futures. Sherman said Sunday he hasn't thought about it, which is a lie. He's human, and who wouldn't be thinking about their future if their job performance to a dip like Sherman's?

"I focus on my family, I focus on my faith," Sherman said. "I do not become consumed over things I cannot control."

No matter what happens, Sherman won't have to wait long. If Thompson fires him, or forces firing of assistants, it's in the best interest of the Packers to take care of business right away so they can jet a start on a new coaching staff.

If Sherman returns, it's only fair for Thompson to tell him immediately as nobody likes to wait for their future to be decided for them.

What's going to happen?

Gut feeling tells me Sherman's going to have a new title – former Packers coach.

Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at

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