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ESPN Insider: Weekend notes: Couch sacked himself


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By Randy Mueller

ESPN Insider


# Tim Couch played himself out of a job in Green Bay this preseason. From Game 1 to Game 4, his progress was limited and he looked like a fish out of water. His body language was that of somebody who was very unsure of not only his teammates and new surroundings but also of what was expected from him in Mike Sherman's version of the West Coast offense. I laud the Packers for cutting the cord. Sure it was a mistake to give him $650k in signing bonus when they signed him, but keeping him at this point would have been another mistake.

Packers preseason

Att.-Comp. Yds TD INT

Couch 11-34 96 0 0

Pederson 11-20 112 0 0

Too often teams are not willing to admit a mistake and move on. Having Doug Pederson still on the roster made it an easier pill to swallow. In this case, I think Couch was doomed from the start. He dragged his feet early in the offseason after Green Bay and Cleveland had agreed on compensation for a trade because he couldn't settle on a new contract with the Packers. Then after Cleveland cut him, he took his sweet time in shopping his wares and ended up back in Green Bay two months after he should have been there. That's why he never had a chance to learn a new system and struggled in preseason. The tardiness of his signing really left him on an accelerated crash course of learning a new system. In the end, he didn't give himself enough time and ends up on the street having to find another team.

Dolphins preseason

Att.-Comp. Yds TD INT

Feeley 23-41 244 0 1

Fiedler 20-33 199 1 0

# By selecting Jay Fiedler over newcomer A.J. Feeley, coach Dave Wannstedt has elected the status quo over change for change's sake. Both quarterbacks performed about the same in preseason. Neither of them jumped out and gave a performance worthy of putting the doubts to bed for good. The Dolphins didn't give up a second-round pick and sign Feeley to a new contract to sit him on the bench. Look for this to be a weekly debate in Miami based on each Sunday's performance. This debate isn't going away just yet. The Dolphins are still looking for a running back as well but have had no luck in making a trade so far. Look for them to grant tryouts to a few who hit the street this week if they can't make a deal soon.

# As a lot of intriguing names hit the waiver wire this weekend, fans around the country start to clamor for their team to claim a player who they feel may be an upgrade over present personnel. Keep in mind that claiming a player is not the hard part. It is the releasing of a player who has been with you all spring and through training camp who knows your system well and can be counted on to play on Sunday when the games start for real. That is the hard part. From the club's point of view, the question is do we turn loose a player who might help us in the short term because he knows our system for a player who might be a tad better in the long run, but who won't help us for several weeks because he won't know our system? It's a dilemma each team faces when scouts come calling, telling you this guy is better than what we have.

# Thursday's game brings some obvious intrigue when Indianapolis travels to Foxboro, Mass., to play the Patriots in a rematch of last year's playoff game. These two teams bring high hopes for 2004, in what should be a great game. My interest in this game is partially due to the fact that last year New England's defensive backs roughed up Colts WR Marvin Harrison to the tune of him being a nonfactor in the normally explosive Colts offensive attack.

In my mind, last year's game had more to due with the re-emphasis of the "no contact beyond 5 yards" rule than any other game or event from last year. Colts president and GM Bill Polian sits on the powerful Competition Committee and they determine rule changes and make recommendations to the rest of the league. I'm sure he had seen enough of his star player getting jammed and pushed around beyond five yards. Will officials continue to call this contact very close once the regular season starts? Will the Patriots' defenders play soft so that Harrison can run wherever, whenever he wants to? Or will Harrison still have a rough time trying to navigate the Pats' secondary? A lot of eyes around the league will be focused on this matchup on Thursday night to see how their teams will have to adjust their play come Sunday.

# Another semi-dilemma is the philosophical question a team must ask when filling out its eight-man practice squad over the next couple of days. Do we stock it with players who can help us be the most efficient in practice? In other words, should we carry certain guys at certain positions based on our injury situation. This would allow coaches to keep some veteran players fresh and not wear them out in practice even though certain practice-squad guys have a limited future with your team because they lack NFL ability. Or do we stock our practice squad with the idea of using it to develop players regardless of their position? Coaches don't really like to hear about potential and projects when they are preparing for a regular-season game. Can't say I blame them. This topic will garner a lot of in-house discussion. And the fact that the practice quad numbers have been increased from five to eight this year will take some of the pressure off administrators and coaches and allow them to do a little of both philosophies we've discussed.

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Bulldog, good observation. A #2 for Feeley vs. a #3 for Brunnell? And the Skins get hammered for it? I guess the mitigating factor was that Brunnell was going to be a FA anyway, so presumably we could have waited and then outbid others for his services.

Interesting point regarding practice squad philosophy. Which direction did the 'Skins take? A little of both it seems.

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Gibbs was smart to move quickly on Brunell, I think the Cowboys were looking to acquire him in free agency and were surprised when the Skins with Ramsey aboard went after him.

San Francisco is another team that would have offered him a starting job.

Better to have done it the way we did, even if the bonus was a little stiff.

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