The 2004 season is one-fourth over and the Green Bay Packers are in total disarray after an embarrassing home loss to the New York Giants this past Sunday by a score of 14 - 7. Cheeseheads, who had hopes of a Super Bowl appearance this year, now find their beloved Packers with only a single victory in four games and playing lousy football.
Let's take a look at the problems. For the third straight week, the Packers' defense has looked pathetic. The Giants mercilessly rushed the ball for an inexcusable 245 yards. Two weeks ago the Bears did much the same. In both games, much of the yardage came right up the middle, where injured Grady Jackson is greatly missed. Regardless of the injuries, the Packers have to be concerned about their overall defensive talent.
Brett Favre went down early in the second half with a concussion. The incredible Brett has now suffered the same type of injury which has hastened the end of the careers of many aging quarterbacks. Packer fans have to be concerned about Brett's health and where the team is going without him to lead the way. It is a sobering thought for Cheeseheads.
Even though the Packers officially recorded four sacks against the Giants, the pass rush has been anemic this year. Highly compensated Cletidus Hunt and KGB are grossly unproductive right now and Jamal Reynolds and Joe Johnson, two other highly paid but totally unproductive defensive line busts, are gone but not easily forgotten as management mistakes.
Ever since Mike McKenzie became disgruntled and decided he wanted out of Green Bay, the Packers' defensive secondary has become a major liability. McKenzie's replacement for the first four games this year, Michael Hawthorne, lacks the speed and physical presence to be a starting NFL cornerback. High draft picks Batman Carroll and Joey Thomas have either been injured or otherwise rendered no help to date.
Keeping McKenzie on the team at this point makes no sense. At the very minimum, Packers have to perform with pride and McKenzie no longer does. Mike Sherman needs to decisively dump McKenzie either via trade or outright release. Let's see if he has the courage to do that this week. Getting rid of McKenzie isn't going to stop the stupid penalties, fumbles, and missed tackles, or solve their personnel issues, but it will set the tone for a team that needs to be marching to a different tune these days.
I can't imagine the Pack losing three in a row in Lambeau next Monday against the Tennessee Titans, but who knows. Right now things are out of control. Football is a strange game. Maybe a big win against the Titans will straighten the course for the 2004 Packers. I wouldn't bet the farm on that though. More likely 2004 will turn out to be the year that the Packers are paying the price for not adequately securing defensive talent and a replacement for Favre.
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