Maybe Mike McKenzie knew what he was talking about all along.
When he first said he wanted out of Green Bay -- a wish that was finally fulfilled Monday with his trade to the New Orleans Saints -- McKenzie not only mentioned money but everything else he didn't like about the Packers.
He was unhappy over secondary coach Bob Slowik's promotion to defensive coordinator when Ed Donatell got fired for the fourth-and-26 wreckage in Philadelphia that knocked the Packers out of the playoffs. And he was doubly disappointed when Kurt Schottenheimer filled Slowik's vacated job in the secondary, a position McKenzie wanted to go to assistant defensive backs coach Lionel Washington.
Donatell landed in Atlanta, where the Falcons (4-0) have a revitalized defense. A dismal defense is the primary reason for the Packers' first 1-3 start in 11 seasons.
McKenzie, Green Bay's best defender last year, told coach-general manager Mike Sherman in April he'd never play for him again and swore it wasn't a ploy to get the Packers to renegotiate his contract.
He did play for the Packers again, albeit just nine snaps in the dime defense against Chicago three weeks ago before suffering a puzzling hamstring injury that sidelined him for the last two games.
''One of those ugly divorces,'' is how safety Darren Sharper described the split that was seven months in the making.
When McKenzie took his bags -- and baggage -- to the Saints, he left behind a dysfunctional defense.
After McKenzie began begging for a one-way ticket out of town, Sherman selected cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas with his top two draft picks, but they didn't impress as expected in training camp and got into a fight last month. Neither has seen the field much despite the propensity of McKenzie's replacement, Michael Hawthorne, to get hurt and burned on a weekly basis.
The defensive line has a huge hole in the middle without 350-pound nose tackle Grady Jackson (knee). Paying a big price for his sumo-sized absence are Sharper and middle linebacker Nick Barnett, both of whom look lost at times. That probably says more about Slowik's schemes than about a two-time Pro Bowl safety and a second-year player who made a push for rookie of the year honors last season.
The new blitz-heavy approach may be a work in process, but the season is quickly slipping away.
The Packers are 0-2 at home for the first time since 1988 after allowing the Bears 182 yards rushing and the Giants 245, the most anybody has gained on the ground against Green Bay since 1983.
In between those embarrassments was an even bigger flop at Indianapolis. Slowik compounded his ill-conceived game plan -- one he acknowledged he worked on since summer -- by his startling decision not to make adjustments until halftime, after Peyton Manning had thrown five touchdown passes on six possessions.
The Packers' once potent offense just can't keep up.
Pro Bowl center Mike Flanagan (knee) was placed on injured reserve Saturday. He was replaced by Grey Ruegamer, who got pushed around in Green Bay's 14-7 loss to New York.
Brett Favre has started 212 straight games, counting playoffs, the longest streak for a quarterback in NFL history. But he is starting to show the effects of his ironman streak. His left shoulder frequently pops out of its socket and he's been knocked out of his last two starts.
Three plays after his head bounced off the ground Sunday, a foggy Favre returned to throw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker on fourth down, a feat quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell marveled ''just adds to his legacy.''
Sherman acknowledged he sent Favre back into the game unaware team doctors had not cleared him to return.
The Packers also failed to recognize his backup, Doug Pederson, had a serious rib injury that should have sent him to the sideline, too. Instead, he winced his way through errant pass after errant pass before Craig Nall went in for the final snap.
The Packers have seen the future without Favre, who turns 35 next week, and it isn't pretty.
They thought they found his eventual successor in former top overall draft pick Tim Couch, who they never worked out before signing in June after minicamps were over and the Browns had released him.
Turns out Couch didn't throw much on his own in the offseason and he was waived.
Sherman also kept two punters, Bryan Barker and rookie B.J. Sander -- who Sherman moved up to select in the third round of the draft. Sherman noted San Diego did the same last season in what might qualify as the first time the sad-sack Chargers were anybody's prototype.
The Chargers went 4-12 last season, and the Packers' dreary start has put them on the same pace.
Arnie Stapleton is an Associated Press sports writer.
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