It was an emotional way to end the 2005 season. The victory over the Seattle Seahawks did little to ease the pain of a very difficult season and now, the Green Bay Packers will need to answer a number of vital questions during this off-season. Who will they select as their next head coach? Will Brett Favre come back for one more season? What will be the team's emphasis in the upcoming NFL draft?
No doubt, it wasn't easy for General Manager Ted Thompson to make his decision to relieve Head Coach Mike Sherman of his duties. As things continued to build in a negative fashion for the Packers this season, you could sense a lot of tension and frustration across the state of Wisconsin. I heard a lot of it first hand from the fans while doing my radio shows in Green Bay, Milwaukee, Madison, Wausau and Stevens Point. I'm sure Thompson thought about this situation long and hard before arriving at the conclusion he did. This team is moving in several different directions not only with the coaching staff, but also with many of the players. It's a rebuilding process even if you don't like to hear that term. If 2006 is not a full-blown rebuilding year, it certainly will be the season after that.
There's going to be many new free agent players that will need to be signed. It's very likely that a number of veteran players who've been in Green Bay for a long time won't be here anymore. As hard as it might be for some to accept, if you're going to make all these changes with the players, it's probably the best time to bring in a new head coach.
Without getting into the speculation of whether Brett Favre will come back next year, I've been asked how difficult it really is to learn a new offense. If the Packers' new coach moves away from the West Coast offense, Favre could certainly learn a new offense, but that's a decision that Favre would have to make, and it will be a tough decision. In implementing a new offense, the Packers will have their share of growing pains, and a veteran quarterback is going to have to spend twice as much time in the film room, studying and trying to learn the new system. I'm not sure that Favre has the desire to do that, but only he knows for sure.
The 2005 season was one of misfortune and bad luck for the Packers with the injuries and all of the adversity for the head coach, the quarterback and for everybody else on the team. Despite all that went against them, I really credit this team with sticking together. I thought Sherman did an outstanding job of keeping this team together. There was no finger pointing or animosity in that locker room, and the team needs to be commended for that.
Hopefully, the Packers organization will regroup and have a solid and productive off-season. A lot of players need to work hard to get healthy again, and many key personnel decisions will have to be made. Thompson will need a good draft, and the Packers are in a position to select an impact player. Without going overboard, the team will also need to sign some free agents who can step in and help this team immediately. If the Packers can make enough of the right moves, they could have a lot of good things to look forward to next year. Only time will tell if Favre will come back for another year. There's no need to rush him into a decision. They have Aaron Rodgers, and he's got the off-season to work out and really learn the offense.
It was a disappointing year for the team and for the fans but what happened to the Packers happens to all great teams sooner or later.
Don "Majik" Majkowski was inducted into the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame earlier this year. His career for the Packers spanned six seasons (1987-92), including being named to the Pro Bowl in 1989 when he led the NFL in passing yards. In addition to his duties with Packers.com, Majik provides football analysis for WSSP-AM, SportsRadio 1250 in Milwaukee, WDUZ SportsRadio 107.5 & 1400 The Fan in Green Bay, WTSO - ESPN 1070 in Madison, WDEZ in Wausau, and WIZD in Stevens Point. Visit Majik's Web site, www.majiknetwork.net, for more information.