As I look at the big picture I think Bob Sanders did enough to stop from getting fired because his defense played better at the end of the season. However, I really don't think it was his defense, and he didn't know it. Remember how it was reported that Mike McCarthy was sitting in the defensive meetings. Don't you think Bob Sanders wondered why? Was it because Mike McCarthy didn't like the direction and only kept him around because he didn't want to rock the boat too much?
This defense had gone through so many different defensive coordinators in the last several years that when Jim Bates didn't take the job this organization and Mike McCarthy were stuck with what to do. So instead of going and getting someone else they stayed in-house and hired Sanders and gave him control of the defense to keep it as close to the same as it was because they saw what Bates did with lesser guys, but not anymore. With this week's promotion of Winston Moss to assistant head coach in charge of defensive development, things have just changed because in McCarthy's eyes they had to.
It was very interesting on how things were stated in the press conference and in the paper. There was one quote that I found very telling and that was the one that said "Bob Sanders for now is still in charge of the defense." This was spoken by Winston Moss, which tells me changes are on the way, otherwise, why would he have said it like that? So I asked myself what does all this really mean? The only thing that I can come up with is that Mike McCarthy trusts Winston Moss and not Bob Sanders. They can spin the title any way they want to and they can say they did this so that it ties up Winston for the future because as a coach you can't move laterally, so by giving him the assistant head coach title he can only leave the Packers for a head coaching job.
This tells me how much importance Mike McCarthy puts in their relationship and how much he values his knowledge as the leader of the defense. We have to remember Mike only signed a three-year deal, so really why would he lock up Winston for the long haul with this type of title unless he really needs him now? It was like he didn't know what to do with Sanders, so he did nothing but take some of his power away.
It will be very interesting to see how things shake out because McCarthy has made it obvious that Moss is his guy and Sanders isn't. I know that there are so many titles that coaches have. In my day, the defensive coordinator ran the show and that's where the bucked stopped. Maybe this promotion was McCarthy's way of saying to Bob Sanders I value your effort and you did your best, but your best wasn't good enough because there were way to many mistakes that cost us. Also, this move might have been made so that he didn't have to fire him.
I like Winston Moss as a coach. He shows an aggressive side as a coach. After his promotion I had him on the radio show that I co-host and I had a chance to talk to him about his philosophy and, trust me, it's one of pure aggression. We talked about how he sees the potential of this group of linebackers and he believes, like I do, that they can be one of the best units in the league. Not only that but because he is an ex-player he might be able to communicate with guys like Charles Woodson and Al Harris and let them know where they stand. Not only that but maybe now this move forces the secondary coaches Lionel Washington and Kurt Schottenheimer to finally get on the same page because it was apparent that Bob Sanders couldn't get it done and they tried everything from hand signals to wristbands.
If you look at the Packers organization over the years, especially on the football side, the one thing that has been evident when the Packers have been successful hasn't been about the offense, but about the defense as well. Guys like Fritz Shurmur, Ray Rhodes and even Jim Bates ran the show, guys the players respected.
I know that Winston Moss is unproven, but I will tell you this: Ask yourself what position on this defense do you see as the cornerstone of this team at this moment. Then ask yourself how did they play? And while you are doing that how many times have you said, ‘I wish the rest of the defense played like the linebackers?' I know I have and I hope with this move we will see this defense use its strengths and put players in position to play their best.
Up to this point we have to say the moves that Ted Thompson have made have paid off. We also would have to say that the plan Mike McCarthy talked about when he was hired is coming together. Now with the advancement of Winston Moss as assistant head coach and in charge of defensive development, I have to believe this is ANOTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE!!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at email@example.com.