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The End of a Coaching Era: The Last Run of Former Packers and 49ers

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Days off are nice. Let's correct/clarify some post-game reactions.

For the most part, I don't think Mike Holmgren is what's wrong with this team. He's very traditional, yes, but he retains a great eye for talent, excels at developing talent and if his offenses aren't creative, they are typically well-designed. The problem is more that Holmgren and I presume Gil Haskell are a bit rigid. Clearly, Seattle saw play action as the route to beating the Eagles. Play action was a major part of Seattle's success against the 49ers (but, moreover, a hefty dose of RAC - more on that later). The Eagles blitzed right through it.

It's Holmgren's supporting cast that's the problem. Holmgren is notoriously loyal. I wouldn't write "notoriously" and "loyal" in the same sentence, but like a jilted lover, Holmgren is loyal to his own detriment. Holmgren wanted to re-sign Jerramy Stevens, for instance. I'm not going to wade into the Stevens drama, opinions about the guy are pretty entrenched, for the most part I don't judge the morality of a public figure/stranger, though I think it's a reach to argue Stevens is a scumbag, but Holmgren above everyone should have known it was time to cut bait. Beyond his personal turmoil, Stevens was never much of a football player. His talent, awesome, his ability to play football, pedestrian.

Bruce DeHaven makes a great example. In the past three years, DeHaven has been given: three great return men, including a top three returner in Nate Burleson, consistently high-level kicking, and an underappreciated punter. DeHaven's only responsibility was to assemble a kick/punt return and cover unit. That's about it. To an extent, a punt/kick blocking unit, but I would wager that's 8/10ths returner. Those units have been awful. This season, beyond poor, the units have grown sloppy.

Holmgren isn't the Holmgren of yore, but like Walter Jones, a diminished Holmgren is still pretty good. But his surrounding talent is decidedly not long for this league. Coaches bounce about the league, and like many professions, experience somehow trumps ability all too often, but for John Marshall, Gil Haskell, Jim Lind, Keith Gilbertson, Bruce DeHaven and John Jamison, I think this is likely their last stop in the league. I'm not sure the new guys will be better. Each one of the above at one time did something great, but it's no more fair to judge good coaches years removed than it is to judge Shaun Alexander 2005 by Shaun Alexander 2007. Mike Solari was a good start. This time next year, will we be talking about a resurgent unit led by Greg Knapp and Raheem Morris? I certainly hope and think so.