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Monday, June 13, 2005
Good Coaches-Bad Coaches
by Jerry in Connecticut
First, I would like to point out that getting a new defensive coordinator is not the only change the Packers made this year. They also have new defensive line coaches and new defensive backfield coaches as well.
As for the defensive line coach, I would have to say that nobody is better than Jethro Franklin. I mean that very literally. If they would have had nobody as defensive line coach. That would have been better than having Jethro Franklin. I think he was the one coach on the entire Packers coaching staff that got in the way of players and prevented them from developing. He was terrible.
Next, is the Slowik issue. Is Slowik a great coach or a lousy coach? I would have to lean toward lousy. He is thought of around the league as a defensive genius. The problem was, he wasn't coaching defensive geniuses. He isn't a great communicator, and did nothing to fire up his players. I have no doubt he has a great mind, he simply failed to get that across to anyone. It is a little like hiring Shakespeare to teach kids English. Slowik had them working on sonnets when many of them didn't know the alphabet. Geniuses often focus on the esoteric and neglect the fundamentals.
Now it is completely possible to be a great coach and a lousy coach at the same time. Most of you guys are old enough to remember Billy Martin the old Yankees and Oakland A's manager that died a few years ago. Billy was both a great coach and a lousy coach (which is why he got fired several times and won manager of the year a couple of times). Billy over managed (or what some people refer to as micromanaged). He would tell players what to do every second of every game. That worked great when he had very young players that didn't understand some of the nuances of the game, but would grate on (and demotivate) the veterans he managed at other times. Billy never changed his style to adapt to the players so he was a great manager for a young club and a lousy manager with a veteran club.
Our DB coach last year (Shottenheimer) was the exact opposite. He was a very laisez-fire (leave them alone) kind of coach. He would have been a very good coach with a very veteran secondary (which is what the Packers thought they had when they hired him). With the Slowik system last year, even the veterans we did have didn't quite understand it and really needed some guidance, but that is not Shottenheimer's style. Does that make him a bad coach? I don't think so, it just made him a bad coach for the situation he was in. Now the problem is that we have some very talented yound DBs that didn't really develop last year. That is why Ahmad still looks very much like a rookie.
If you remember the talk last year about this time, Slowik's whole defensive scheme was designed around Darren Sharper. Darren was supposed to be THE GUY. Everything about the defense was supposed to be geared toward letting Sharper make plays. Because Sharper was clearly the highest paid defensive player last year and was due for a big raise this year, it was really the only way that the Pack could justify Darren's salary. It really put Sharper in a make or break situation and he crumbled. Sharper went from a pretty slow start, to being injured so the scheme really never had a chance. While I believe that Slowik is likely a defensive genius, I would argue that any defense that was designed around any one player is ill conceived. I think Sherman the General Manager had a much bigger hand in this than Sherman the Head Coach. If it had worked, the Packers would have been able to keep Sharper this year, salary and all.
So, did we have bad coaches last year? Jethro Franklin was bad, but the others were just bad for the situation. In spite of all the talk about the Packers getting old, they really are a pretty young team. No where is that truer than on defense. We have a defense where the players need to develop and need to focus on fundamentals. We need a scheme that is easy enough to let the players focus on their fundamentals. So, not only is Bates a great coach, he is the right coach for this team at this time. But he isn't the only change this year. It also looks like we made a major up grade on almost every assistant coach on the defense.