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From the Press Box - Post-Black Monday Edition

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From the Press Box - Post-Black Monday Edition

I have returned from the frozen wilds of Alaska, refreshed and somewhat more frozen than I had been previously.

Apparently the cold followed me though as it was a sweltering 12 degrees here in the NYC.

Good thing I'm about to head off to Vegas for a Footballguys End of the Year Celebration, huh?

A rolling Garda gathers no frost.

While I was traveling back from the Moose-infested north, the yearly bloodletting (or as some call it 'Black Monday') started up and the casualties had some....interesting names.

So let's start there.


I can't be all that shocked the Polians were ousted in Indianapolis, given my ranting about a lack of planning to protect themselves against a Manning injury.

I am shocked at some of the surprise in the media and some of the, I guess outrage is the word.

Other than draft Manning, what has Bill or his kid done to warrant not taking the bullet here? Not draft a good running back? Not improve an aging offensive line? Not fix a defense?

I'm hearing a lot of frustration that the Polians deserved a bit more slack. That one season of Manning-injury destroyed football shouldn't cause them to get the shaft.

I say when that one year reveals a years-long amount of frittering away of resources, I'm amazed it took that long to jettison them.

Maybe this is playing to my audience but as I mentioned in a Bleacher Report piece I did on grading offenses the ability to plan ahead and have, I dunno, DEPTH has always impressed me about the Packers.

It's what good offenses—and good teams, good front offices—do.
The Polians didn't. That cost their team and cost them their jobs.

Rightfully so in my opinion.


Once again, Reid manages to dodge a bullet in what was a debacle of a season for the Eagles.

I swear if I had time there would be a Matrix-y JPEG of Reid here but alas, I've a plane to catch.

Unlike Polian though, I don't know I blame Reid overmuch for what happened. Perhaps he deserves flak for naming Juan Castillo defensive coordinator (how does he have a job still, by the way?) but more than anything he was a victim of a front office gone mad with Free Agent fever.

That and DeSean Jackson is a tool. If Jackson had played with maybe 50% less sulk and 75% less quit, he might have a new contract and maybe the Eagles could be in the playoffs.

I can see the point of view that Reid could have reigned in Jackson, should have slapped Castillo for his defensive scheme and found a way to get Vick to learn how to hook slide. He's the head coach, the buck stops with him.

However he's done more with less in his time with Philly. I think another year to see if he can pull the team out of this tailspin is reasonable.


A few more 'Black Monday'ish notes.

A baffling bit of business is the continued presence of AJ Smith in San Diego's front office. I'm not sure what team's GM has done a more mediocre job than Smith, while scorching relationships in the process.

If he finds a way to retain Vincent Jackson, I'll eat my hat.

I sort of understand staying with Norv Turner. Philip Rivers loves him and he normally does a good job in the regular season. It's ironic they canned Marty Schottenheimer for not winning playoff games given Norv's playoff record.

Speaking of Schottenheimers—how is Brian Schottenheimer still working in NY you ask? Well, rumor has it that the Jets are trying to keep him looking good as a viable head coach candidate by not canning him.

Seems the theory is that they would take less of a financial hit if he left willingly rather than getting fired and the Jaguars are interested.

He's not the only reason the Jets offense sucked (more on that in a second) but he's seen a bevy of quarterbacks in his time and none of them have been much to look at.

Favre famously ignored a lot of his plays and I recall a lot of talk that then HC Eric Mangini tied his hands. When Rex Ryan came to town, we were supposed to see Schottenheimer JR in his full glory.


Finally, the Dolphins reportedly interviewed Jon Gruden about their head coaching vacancy. I whole-heartedly support this. Get THIS GUY out of the booth. Please.

Back to the Jets—


Mark Sanchez is not a good quarterback and I am not sure he ever will be.

In my defense, I did say to Aaron way back in the early days of The Hard Count that this was a make or break year for Sanchize.

It's more broke than made.

Some of the issues come down to coaching. What is OC Brian Schottenheimer doing with his ultra-obvious playcalling? Why was offensive line depth allowed to be so thin for so long?

How do you ignore Santonio Holmes for a full month?

Ultimately though, much of this comes down to Sanchez. In the three years now that I have watched him closely, he has not improved one iota. He doesn't see the field. He doesn't read the defenses. His progressions are—as the kids say—wack. He stares down his receivers.

Maybe Schottenheimer is a poor offensive coordinator (I really believe that). Maybe also, some of his vanilla playcalling and lack of vertical game comes down to Sanchez being completely unable to execute.

I'm not sure what good keeping both will do and honestly, Sanchez is Ryan's guy while Schottenheimer was an odd holdover from the previous regime.

So it's unlikely Sanchez goes this off season. But the Jets need some competition and a legitimate quarterback to back Sanchez up in case he continues his descent into suckitude next season.

Nagler has been saying Sanchez was no good as long as I've known him. I'm not totally ready to throw the USC QB out with the bathwater but he's got no margin for error with me now.

He's got to learn how to play the position. If he can't make huge strides this off season and look like a competent quarterback when Week 1 kicks off the season, he has to go.

I have some significant doubts about the possibility of that happening.

That will do it for this week. I will try to post a Hard Count before I head to Vegas but I'm crunched for time so it may wait until next week.

Sorry about that, I hate missing my schedule but it's been a hectic few weeks.

Thanks for reading and I hope you've had a great holiday season.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (16) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremy's picture

Both of the Jackson's are complete tools. But, I'm glad the Packers don't treat their players the way the Eagles and Chargers do. The Packers reup their core players in a manner that is is consistent, timely and fair. It's one of the best things TT has brought to the organization.

andrewgarda's picture

The classy way the PAck treats its players is why a guy like Finley is willing to take the Franchise Tag if need be to stay. He knows they'll take care of him.

Bearmeat's picture

DeSean Jackson's stupidity is another example of how FA is filled with far more land mines than gold mines.

Fact: If you overpay someone else's player in FA, all your current guys will wonder why they didn't get the money they earned in your house.

I do think there is a place for mid level FA's (remember Woodson? Or Jenkins/Babin this year?) - but the high end FA's that get snatched up in the early March feeding frenzy for tens of millions guaranteed seem to cause trouble more often than not....

Bob's picture

Does anyone remember a team that won a Super Bowl after spending a ton of money in free agency?

PackersRS's picture

1996 Packers.

I think we got Dotson, Robinson, Rison and Jackson all in that FA class. Not to mention the others that came before, like Reggie.

But I agree with the point.

packeraaron's picture

Robinson was indeed a FA but Jackson was a trade - remember, he retired instead of playing for Green Bay, before Wolf and Holmgren convinced him to play.

Bob's picture

I forgot about that team, they also had Sean Jones at the other DE. I think Robinson was aquired in a trade, but I could be wrong. Still, it is very unusual to aquire so many established players and be successful. Great job by Wolfe and Holmgrem.

Bob's picture

Me bad, a special thank you to Fritz Shurmer who turned that collection of players into a top ranked defense.

Bob's picture

Fun fact here. I heard this recently on sports radio. Albert Hanysworth aquired in a trade by NE, waived picked up by TB, after move. NE goes 8-0, TB 0-8. Not to mention the wonderful impact he had in Washington. Love those free agents.

Bob's picture

Or maybe he and his agent think that his production this year will not get him the kind of contract they are looking to secure. If he gets franchised then he gets one more year to showcase his talents at a rate his production did not justify.

Bearmeat's picture

Oh and Garda - CLASSIC on the Happy Gilmore! +1!

andrewgarda's picture

Thank you. I have to admit I'd had that one pocketed for use at some point. Might as well be now.

redlights's picture

There is alot of football things that I don't know.

One thing that I'm pretty certain of, is that football needs a great deal of chemistry. That starts with Packer People; dont overpay for FA's; re-up your core players; act dignified (take notes, here, Rex or Schwartz or Cutler or the plethora of WR's who could be replaced with 2nd/3rd rounders like GB did). My main point, here though, is that the lack of an offseason hurt players in direct proportion to their tenure in the league. Even Sanchez could of used that time to learn to read the field, or set Holmes straight (or chase him out of town). Look around the NFL, the weak spots on virtually every team, well maybe not CHI Oline, but you can see it with KC, Seattle, Cleveland, even Miami. Offseasons are important!

PackersRS's picture

Garda, what's your take on Santonio and the backup QB and Rex Ryan and all of that mess? BTW though luck, if you want to, you can change your colors anytime as far as I'm concerned. You'll just have to acknowledge Charles Woodson as the rightful best defensive player of 2009 and best CB of the last decade ;)

Andrew Garda's picture

My thought is that Holmes was a punk but he had a point badly made though it was. Why was the jets best WR barely targeted the last month and only once in the last game?

I'd have more class but be just as frustrated and honestly I think Sanchez just checks down too quick to allow Holmes to get open.

I totally back McElroy though. People calling for his head because he was a rookie and hurt are asking the wring question:

Why was a rookie backup on IR the guy doing the calling out? Brandon Moore complained this season. Is he a captain? A leader in the clubhouse?

Where were te leaders on this team all season? Why did the season end before LT called someone out?

The jets have traded or cut virtually every high character vet since Rex came in. It's a slow eroding that is finally coming to a head because this season was a disaster.

Most of the time I'm happier if these things get handled in house not in public. But clearly it never was.
I'm glad McElroy spoke up.

Nobody else was.

Finally he was in the radio in Alabama where he won a National Championship. Given Holmes' tantrum if course he's getting asked about it. I thought he handled it well.

PackersRS's picture

Do you think they can keep this attitude and win? I understand it's New York and not Green Bay, but Hard Knocks? Guarantees in the media?

It's true that the Jets were perennial losers, and some may say they've overachieved with Rex.

But are things so bad, that a Jets fan would rather take Rex and all the problems than try to make it with someone else, with the chance of getting back to being non-relevant?

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