I used to think Moss was a quality coach and one with a future. I thought that mostly because that was what we were told by everyone, especially Mike McCarthy. But after reading this from Greg Bedard at jsonline this morning, I’m almost wondering if he should be canned:
And then there’s Poppinga, who had 68 tackles after posting 70 and 76 the previous two seasons. Not only did Moss not back down from his earlier statement that Poppinga was in the midst of a “very good” season, he indicated that Poppinga was the unit’s top performer. “He’s maxing himself out,” Moss said. “Is there room to get better? I believe he can from a pass-rush standpoint, from an impact standpoint. I still think that he is always going to evolve and continue to get better as long as he’s on that football field. But this year, I thought he was one of the bright spots in our unit.” That Moss thought that highly of Poppinga’s season – which was solid overall but characterized by some crucial missed tackles – might illustrate just how poorly the linebackers performed.
Poppinga is “maxing himself out”???? If he followed that statement by saying Poppinga just couldn’t play worse, then I’d agree. But as it is, Winston Moss must be on crack.
Barnett, though he was playing badly, played better than Poppinga. Chillar played better than Poppinga. Bishop played better than Poppinga. Spencer Havner played better than Poppinga. I have to admit – after reading this article this morning, I had one of the moments where I thought “maybe it’s me – maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about and my observations are way off”. After all, how can the LB coach, D-Coordinator, head coach and others believe that Poppinga is good – and yet I continue to think he is not only not good, but awful??? Even Bedard states that Poppinga was “solid overall”. Bedard is usually on top of stuff like this but he and the coaching staff just seem off here. I honestly do wonder if everyone just likes Poppinga so much because he does seem like a neat guy – and it interferes with their objectivity.
I’m not so rigid here that I can’t admit Poppinga had a few nice tackles this season. He did. But he was mostly so ABSENT on game days that I find the lack of criticism shocking. If Winston Moss is back for 2009, it’s not going to be the open competition at least at strong-side LB that Bedard claims it will be in his article. Poppinga will have his spot. And I’ve said this before, for those who say it’s the scheme and Poppinga plays well within the scheme – what kind of scheme asks a player to do virtually nothing?
Serious changes need to happen at LB. We know from this year that Barnett, Hawk and Poppinga were a weak unit. We know that Hawk, contrary to what the article says, was not too effective in the middle. We know that Chillar, as the article stated, was moved around so much that it affected his play negatively – like I wrote a few posts ago, I think he too was a victim of the coaching staff’s over-emphasis on versatility. It’s hard to know how Barnett will be once he’s back. And it’s also hard to say what effect having an improved D-Line may have on this unit. But if I were coach, I would strongly consider starting Barnett, Bishop and either Chillar or Hawk, and dropping Poppinga. Or, better yet, finding a stud LB in free agency or through the draft.