A New McDefense

[Sean McDermott (wearing funny hat) would be an excellent choice to lead the defense.]

I truly love watching the NFL playoffs, even when we aren't on the schedule. There is something about seeing the game played well, excellently even, with terrifying intensity, that just can't be topped.

You just can't make it to the Conference Championship without a Grade A Defense. I'm not ready to call the Cardinals defense great yet, but the last two weeks they have done the job.

Then you look at the Ravens, the Steelers and the Eagles and you've got probably the three best defenses in the league. And they're all still playing. These teams aren't just good this year. This isn't a fluke, folks. The Ravens, Steelers and Eagles always have great defenses. They are led by great defensive minds. Rex Ryan. Dick LeBeau. Jim Johnson. When you hear one of those names you should shudder. There is a mystique to those names and what they represent. I'm sorry, Bob Sanders, but you were never going to get there. It was time to admit it. The last great defensive leader we had in Green Bay was the late Leonard 'Fritz' Shurmur, who captained a number-one ranked unit (with Reggie White) to a Super Bowl title in 1997. Fritz Shurmur, people would say, He's a good one. A damned good one.

Our new defensive coordinator doesn't need to be a popular name, but we had better hope he will become an iconic coach like the fellows above or it will be another long season next year, and the end of the some-times promising McCarthy era.

One way to get some-one of that caliber is to hire a coach who has learned from a legend. While LeBeau and Ryan probably have loads of talent throughout their assistant coaching ranks, their 3-4 base philosphies just don't mix well with the players we have on the roster. That's not to say we couldn't adjust through the draft and some tinkerin', but to ask for success in year one - like we must - is a bit much.

That leaves Johnson, who along with former Packers coach Andy Reid, leads a defense into their fifth NFC Championship in the last ten years this weekend. Think about that. It's pretty impressive. Obviously, the guy's methods are golden. Deep Fried Gold, even. And they run a 4-3 base.

Ever since Sanders got the ax I've been leaning more and more towards Eagles secondary coach Sean McDermott. If he could bring Johnson's aggressive, smash-mouth, fundamental 4-3 pressure defense to Green Bay I think we'd see instant improvement by week one of the '09 season. When you look around the league and realize that winning in the playoffs requires a great defense, I think it's time we invest in a proven winner and a proven system. Heck, maybe he could bring out-standing strong safety free agent Brian Dawkins along with him to play next to Nick Collins. Well, let's not get carried away.

Regardless, the Packers won't even have a chance to interview McDermott until after the Super Bowl, so it might be a while. I guess if it works out Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin will have to change his name to McPhilbin. Then we'll have McCarthy, McPhilbin and McDermott as our top three coaches. Any special teams coordinators with a McName out there?

Watch out for the cold snap, folks, and key an eye on this situation. The choice McCarthy and Thompson make here will be the most important move of the off-season. Until next time, then.