Is This the End For Seifert?

<P>The Arizona game should be the final straw in the Panther coaching stint of George Seifert. I have been among the many who has believed that owner Jerry Richardson wouldn't fire Seifert nor would Seifert resign despite the worst record in franchise history. I now believe that Richardson doesn't have a choice.

Jerry Richardson is a man committed to winning, he's also a man who set a 10-year timetable to win a Super Bowl title, and has watched his franchise regress since reaching the NFC title game in year 2. He will spend (and has spent) whatever deemed necessary to win a title. But, after last season, he and George Seifert reached the conclusion that this franchise was more than just a player or two away from a return to the playoffs. He gave Seifert carte blanche to bring in younger players and start to rebuild.

Certainly, having a rookie quarterback (rather than Steve Beuerlein) has cost this team some games this year, but , remember, they didn't plan on starting Chris Weinke this year, it was supposed to be Jeff Lewis' job. He was cut in the pre-season, after the coaching staff finally saw what the rest of us had been seeing for two years.

Richardson has been concerned about his reputation for impatience, and has shied away from wanting to get rid of Seifert (despite a losing streak that has now reached 14 games), since he gave the coach the green light to overhaul.

The irony in Seifert's situation, I believe, is that the more they lose, the less the chance he'll quit. If this team had gone 7-9 or 6-10 this year, he could point at the "youth movement" and say he's leaving the team in better shape than he found it. Instead, now facing a 1-15 year, Seifert won't want to be termed a quitter and will be hell-bent on restoring something to his now-battered reputation. At this point, the folks who say he only won in San Francisco because the 49ers had a great organization and Joe Montana…and Steve Young, are having a field day.

After watching a horrible first half performance Sunday against Arizona, I now believe that Richardson has no choice but to make a coaching change. Here was a team, on the verge of tying an NFL record for futility, that showed up at home, unprepared mentally to play. They showed little passion during the course of an embarrassing 30-7 loss. The nail in the coffin should have been the Cardinals' final drive of the half, following a Panther touchdown that made it 24-7. On the kickoff, Jerrod Cooper, got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for pulling his helmet off while still on the field. Two plays later, Brentson Buckner delivered a late hit/forearm shiver just under the chin of Jake Plummer. In firing Dom Capers three years ago, Richardson cited a loss of control by the coaching staff. Sure looks like the same thing to me.

Certainly, this year has been filled with mistakes by younger players, and there appears to be a pretty good future with the likes of Weinke, Dan Morgan and Steve Smith, but each week there have been too many instances where you looked at a play-call or in-game coaching decision, and wondered "What are these guys thinking?". A coaching staff with the experience of this one should not be having that happen as regularly as it has.

Additionally, Seifert has the reputation of being difficult to work with, especially for offensive coordinators. Two years ago, Gil Haskell headed up one of the most efficient offenses in the league, he left for Seattle, his replacement, Bill Musgrave, quit mid-season last year because he got frustrated with Seifert's involvement and questioning.

I personally, have enjoyed working with Seifert the last few years. He has been pleasant and has a dry wit that catches many off-guard. But, I am concerned enough about the decision-making I've seen, that I'm afraid another year of this regime, will not be fruitful. And, with a younger team, why not pull the plug now and get them under the staff that will, hopefully, be the one that leads them into the post-season.


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