The other two openings are in Buffalo and Oakland. However, it's Buffalo that Packers fans should keep an eye on as former Green Bay coach Mike Sherman appears one of two favorites to replace Mike Mularkey.
Sherman interviewed with Buffalo this week, and according to the Buffalo News, Sherman and former Bears coach Dick Jauron are neck-and-neck to fill the void. There is no question Sherman had shortcomings in Green Bay (need I bring up that Philadelphia playoff game, again?), but he wasn't a bad coach.
Although Sherman is gone, and in some respects a change was needed, based on the Bills' finalists for the job, Sherman should get a new job shortly.
Jauron, who coached the Bears from 1999-2003, shouldn't, as a head coach. In five years with the Bears, the former Packers defensive backs coach had four losing seasons.His only winning season (13-3) came in 2001, when a defense scored in all kinds of ways before losing a divisional playoff to the Eagles. Take away 2001, and Jauron's record in Chicago was 22-42.
Meanwhile, Sherman had five winning seasons in six years, won three division titles and made the playoffs four times. His record, not including this year's 4-12 mark, which was marred with numerous injuries on offense, was 53-37.
Jauron's playoff record was 0-1, while Sherman's was 2-4. Furthermore, the Bills' near future rests on the arm of quarterback J.P. Losman, a player Sherman and the Packers had an eye on in the 2004 NFL draft. As an offensive coach, with the experience of being around Brett Favre, Sherman would seem to be the right fit in Buffalo.
Remember Jauron's offense in Chicago with the laughable John Shoop as the offensive coordinator? He is viewed as a likable coach by players, but where did that get him?
This leads me to the coaching vacancies this off-season. Not all replacements have made sense. The Lions, with young talent on offense, hired Tampa Bay's defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli. To me, it seems an offensive mind, like Miami offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who was hired (smartly) by St. Louis, would have been a good fit.
The Jets let Herman Edwards go to Kansas City and hired Eric Mangini, the Patriots' defensive coordinator for all of one year. It appears if you coach under Bill Belichick you're a genius in the making. We'll see.
The Packers hired Mike McCarthy to replace Sherman. McCarthy was the offensive coordinator for San Francisco, which had the worst offense in the NFL last season. You would think with a young quarterback waiting in the wings, the Packers would have went with a more proven coach.
This returns us back to Buffalo. The Bills were a disappointment this past season, going 5-11 after authoring a 9-7 mark in 2004. With the likes of Willis McGahee, Lee Evans and Eric Moulds, there is talent on offense. But the quarterback play doomed this team.
But remember Cincinnati in 2004, when Carson Palmer took over for Jon Kitna, who threw 27 TD passes in 2003 while Palmer "grabbed some bench" as a rookie? The Bengals were committed to Palmer and this past season it worked out with a division title after a struggle in 2004.
Maybe Losman needed to struggle this year to become a factor next year. If so, who would you rather have as a coach — Jauron, who is skilled at stopping offenses, whether they are his or the opponents? Or Sherman, who has worked with one of the best quarterbacks ever?
Maybe Sherman's ending in Green Bay wasn't what he hoped for, but he should get a chance at another job, especially based on who he is competing against.
The only question is if the grumpy old men in Buffalo — owner Ralph Wilson and GM Marv Levy — can tell the difference anymore between good and bad.
Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at email@example.com.