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Sherman: Staff Decisions In Packers' 'Best Interest'


The decisions didn't come easily, but in the end were ones Green Bay Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman felt he had to make.

Friday, Sherman relieved defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski of their coaching duties, casting aside two men who have been on his staff since his first year as head coach in 2000.

"These decisions were very difficult for me because they not only affect the people involved, the individuals, but their wives and their kids," Sherman said in a press conference Friday morning.

"I don't take that very lightly. I've put a lot of thought into this, I've struggled with it, and have come to this conclusion. But I do feel I have to make decisions that are in the best interest of this football team at this present time."

The changes to Sherman's staff come on the heels of the Packers' second Divisional playoff loss in three seasons. A year ago, the Packers didn't make it past the Wild Card round.

But even though the Packers gave up a 14-point lead against the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend, Sherman said the coaching changes aren't the result of the Packers' 20-17 overtime loss or any specific incident from the 10-6 regular season.

Sherman said he has removed Donatell from his staff because he wanted new leadership for the Packers defense, while Jagodzinski was removed because of "philosophical differences."

"This is not the result of one play or one game," Sherman said. "This is the result of a season-long evaluation. But then you come into the postseason and the after-season and you make your decisions based on the information you've accrued."

Sherman was praiseworthy of both assistants Friday.

He credited Donatell for his part in the Packers' success of the past four seasons, and pointed to Jagodzinski's hand in developing Bubba Franks, who will attend his third straight Pro Bowl in February.

Donatell and Jagodzinski are the first assistants to be fired by Sherman in his three years as general manager, but others have resigned to take other positions.

Sherman said he didn't have a short list of candidates to replace Donatell and Jagodzinski just yet, but wouldn't rule out hiring from within his own staff or hiring individuals who had been fired from other head coaching positions.

Two potential in-house candidates for the defensive coordinator position would be defensive backs coach Bob Slowik, who already operates as Sherman's assistant head coach and who was a defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears from 1993-98 and with the Cleveland Browns in 1999, and linebackers coach Mark Duffner, who was a defensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2001-02.

"This week I've just been wrestling with this decision and haven't begun the process of a replacement as of yet," Sherman said. "Whoever we find as our coordinator will be someone I think can help lead us to the Super Bowl."

Next week, Sherman will attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and expects to communicate with some of the potential candidates.

"When I feel like I find the right person for the job on either side -- and big shoes to fill because both men have made contributions here -- then I'll make the decision," Sherman said. "No sooner, no later."

The Packers are also in need of a running backs coach. Sylvester Croom, who spent three seasons in Green Bay, accepted the head coaching position at Mississippi State, Dec. 1.

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