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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Remembering...Why Cut Sharper?

by Mark Quarderer
PackerChatters Staff

It was midway through the 2003 season that the redoubtable Dave in Texas began the "Cut Sharper" movement over at Zbuds. At the time, I was thinking...what? He'd just been in the Pro Bowl the previous season.

But I knew Dave to be a knowledgeable person, so I started really paying attention to Sharper after that and you know what? His legend was bigger than his actuall contribution on the field. He freelanced and it paid off sometimes.......but it also hurt us quite a bit.

As a tackler, he'd always taken poor angles and he now seemed to have lost just enough speed that it was hurting him. And as a cover guy he seemed like he was just a step slow in bringing the safety help on the deep routes.

So by the end of the season, I was in Dave's corner on this. I thought the Packers should cut him, save the money, and move in a new direction at safety.

But Dave and I were in the minority on this, and the prevailing sentiment was that Sharper was one of our few playmakers on defense and we should keep him. Which we did.

As the 2004 season went through one bad performance by the secondary after another, it was clear when reviewing the films that we were getting bad play from our safeties. They were frequently out of position, whether by design or miscommunication, they tackled poorly which enabled numerous plays to become long gainers, and Sharper in particular was a liability in coverage. Teams like Indy and Minnesota and Philly were just lining up a slot receiver and forcing us to cover with a safety.

IF we covered with Roman, Sharper played deep safety and just didn't have the speed or range to help out. If we covered with Sharper, he just couldn't keep his man covered. So either way we were screwed.

So as the season wound down I was really hoping we'd part ways with Sharper, which we ultimately did. A number of people were in favor of keeping Sharper at a reduced rate....the number of $2 million/year was thrown around.....but my attitude is that a guy that can't play isn't a help at any price.

And now he's followed the money to Minnesota. Personally, I think that Minnesota wasted money on this guy and that makes me happy, but sometimes new settings can rejuvenate a vet and perhaps that'llhappen with Sharper.......time will tell.

But I have absolutely no regrets about parting company with Sharper and bring in guys like Collins, Underwood, and Little. Not only are these guys a fraction of the cost but they're faster and better tacklers....and younger, which means they'll improve.

It's hard to say goodbye to our favorites, and Sharper had been a favorite of mine, but in the NFL you're either improving or you're declining.....you never just stand still.....and Sharper's best football was clearly behind him. Time to move on.
I remember those debates, too. The problem wasn't only Sharper but his contract. Before this year, we took such a cap bath by releasing him that it was very difficult to do. And it also seemed that one reason he was slowed was because of injuries. Well, for the last two seasons he has been injured most of the time. He over rated himself, and most fans did, too. I wonder if the coaching staff didn't also. Last year he was to be the big play maker, only he couldn't stay healthy and couldn't play disciplined ball. He needed a field general out there playing next to him to free lance. He didn't, couldn't, and got injured any way.
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