Carroll's empty promise

As Monday's game showed, when Ahmad Carroll made several good plays but several more disastrous ones, the bad of Carroll outweighed the good,'s Steve Lawrence writes.

Monday night's game at Philadelphia was Ahmad Carroll's last as a Green Bay Packer.

He certainly left the team on a fitting note.

In Carroll's 34th career game, he was flagged for the 33rd time. And he gave up a touchdown with his trademark lack of awareness of where the football was on a long pass.

Those, indeed, will be the final, lasting images of a disastrous first-round draft pick.

My lasting image, however, will have come during the second quarter, when Reggie Brown beat him for a 31-yard gain with a post-corner route. When Brown was zagging, Carroll was still zigging, and Brown couldn't have been more open had Carroll tripped and disappeared into a black hole.

Monday's game summed up Carroll's career perfectly.

There was the potential that kept Carroll in Green Bay for far too long. Up until Brown turned Carroll every which way but loose, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had thrown three passes in Carroll's direction in the first half. All three were incomplete, and he had his man blanketed on every play.

After allowing the big play to Brown, Carroll helped knock the Eagles out of field-goal range when he sacked a scrambling McNabb with a hard, diving tackle.

There were a couple of things Carroll did well, and he displayed those skills early Monday. He was a determined and effective tackler, and, because he is so physical, he was generally good at defending short routes. He'd be a Hall of Famer in the Arena Football League, where defensive backs don't have to worry too often about 30-yard routes.

But it's those long passes and mental lapses that punched Carroll's ticket out of dodge.

What made it all so confounding was Carroll's speed should have made him an ace against deep routes. Yeah, he was short, but as then-Packers coach and GM Mike Sherman famously said when explaining why he spent a first-round pick on a 5-foot-10 corner, Carroll has long arms.

I'm not a psychologist, I don't play one on TV and I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but allow me to be a shrink for a moment. I think Carroll, for all his boasting and posturing, was doomed by a massive lack of confidence in his abilities.

Why else would Carroll constantly resort to grabbing when instead he could just turn on the jets to run stride for stride with any receiver in the league?

Whatever the reason, Carroll put all his flaws on display in front of a national audience during the third quarter on Monday.

After smothering a slant to Brown to start the second half, he allowed a 10-yard reception on second-and-12. That he gave up the reception wasn't a big deal. What made you shake your head was watching the replay of Carroll imploring the official to call the pass incomplete — it was obviously complete — and not touching Brown down.

The real killers, though, came later in the quarter.

The Eagles bumped their lead to 17-9 when he allowed a 45-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis. Lewis never made a move, and Carroll never made a play on the ball. It made you wonder about Carroll's football IQ. Just a hunch, but if your man is running 40 yards down the field and he's nearing the end zone, he's either getting the ball right now or he's just a decoy. Either way, why wouldn't you turn to look for the ball? It's not like he's going to make an in cut 45 yards down the field.

On Philadelphia's next possession, he was flagged for pass interference on another deep pass — he almost allowed the catch anyway — that set up another touchdown. In all, he gave up three completions for 99 yards on Monday.

"He struggled with the ball downfield," coach Mike McCarthy said during Tuesday's announcement. "It's been a problem for him. People will continue to challenge him until he stops it."

Thankfully, Carroll no longer will be challenged while wearing a green and gold uniform.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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