Monday, October 31, 2005

The bottom-feeder cycle.

1992. 1998. 1999. 2005.

It's the law of gravity. What goes up must come down. It also seems to be the bottom-feeder cycle. Teams that win three division championships in a row eventually have a down year. Other than the 1998 and 1999 season, it seems like that cycle runs about once every six years.

So our lowly 1-6 record -- tied with only the Houston Texans for futility -- seems to be somewhat a law of nature, so to speak. In that context, it makes it a bit easier to take. Of course, the reasons for the collapse are not so easy to take. The plethora of injuries to key skill players leaves Brett Favre with no one to rely on to help him carry the load; Donald Driver is about as close as it gets...and that's pretty darn good most of the time. But other than that? Not much there.

And that's the maddening part. The lack of team depth arising from bad drafts and personnel decisions by then-GM Mike Sherman, as has been noted here before, is really at the heart of the current situation. He's not responsible for injuries. He is responsible for not building a team with depth beyond the starting lineup. He is responsible for not giving the best quarterback in football the supporting players on offense and defense to not merely win division championships but win playoff games and Super Bowls.

We're now left with a quarterback who is questioning whether he still has the ability to make the plays necessary to help his team win. There's no question that he still does. In yesterday's game against the Bengals, Favre practically willed the team to a win...that's the only way you can describe it.

According to the online Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Chuck Bresnahan, the Bengals' defensive coordinator, still thinks the Packers have a legitimate chance to win the NFC North despite being three games behind Chicago." And Vince Newsome, the Baltimore Ravens' assistant director of pro personnel, called the Pack, "one of the scariest 1-6 clubs you're ever going to see." All because of Number 4, Brett Favre.

Pittsburgh comes to Lambeau next weekend. Then the Pack travels to Atlanta. Chalk up two more losses. Two too many good teams ahead, and too few good players and too little head coaching ability to overcome those other teams.

Look to next year. Look to a high draft pick. Look to a new head coach, most likely the current defensive coordinator, Jim Bates. And look for ol' Number 4 to return for what might be his last year. Fans of the Packers -- and fans of pro football -- should savor the losses as much as the wins while we have the chance. "People will look back and say, 'I remember when this guy, Brett Favre, was playing,'" Vince Newsome said. "Their backs were against the wall today and everybody thought they were going to get blown out. Favre ignited them. He makes the other guys good. He never gave up." That's what we have to take heart in right now.