In what is rapidly becoming a Monday morning ritual around these parts, San Francisco 49ers fans are spending the early hours of their day cursing out the offensive coordinator in between bites of their bran muffins and sips of their soy lattes.
It's never the defense's fault.
It's never the offensive line's fault.
Quarterback Alex Smith is better than people on the East Coast, who can't be bothered to watch 49ers games, think he is.
The head coach, Mike Singletary, is Vince Lombardi reincarnated (just ask him).
Clearly the problem—literally the only person impeding the 49ers being a playoff team— is offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
It couldn't be any more obvious, right?
After all, he's the guy who calls the plays. He's the guy who had the team come out, again, in a conservative two back offense, with Smith under center for the entire first half, who watched his unit spit up all over itself while falling behind 23-3 to the Packers.
He's the guy who relented in the second half, loosened the reins, let Smith run plays out of his preferred shotgun spread alignment, and probably took a nap in the coaching booth as the team scored three second half touchdowns and nearly rallied all the way back before succumbing 30-24.
If only the team would hire an offensive coordinator who isn't scared to throw the ball, isn't so old-fashioned in his thinking, who isn't so... well, old.
Say, I hear that Charlie Weis is going to be available soon. Why don't the 49ers look into —
Stop it. Just stop it.
49ers fans need to face reality.
The team is 4-6 because it deserves to be. It's not Jimmy Raye's fault any more than it's Alex Smith's fault, Mike Singletary's fault, Adam Snyder's fault or Tarell Brown's fault.
If you're looking to point fingers, you better have fifteen friends along with you, because nearly everyone shares in the blame.
For starters, the defense didn't show up.
San Francisco came into the game with the third ranked run defense in the league, but they let Green Bay's Ryan Grant plow through them repeatedly to the tune of 129 yards, the most any NFL runner had yesterday.
It's the third time in the last six games the much heralded front seven has been gashed, as Atlanta's Michael Turner (22 for 97, 3 TDs), and Tennessee's Chris Johnson (25 for 135, 2 TDs) also had their way with them.
Even more troubling, they let Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who came into the game having taken a league-worst 41 sacks, play the first half without being touched, or even hurried.
Not coincidentally Rodgers had 274 passing yards at the half, completing 22 of 31 passes to seven different receivers, with wideout Greg Jennings doing the most damage, catching four balls for 121 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown where he broke two tackles.
Brown was the biggest culprit in the secondary as he whiffed on a number of tackle attempts, but strong safety Michael Lewis had his own struggles against Packers tight end Jermichael Finley and no one else played much better.
After the 49ers pulled to within one score with 5:56 to go on Smith's fourth down touchdown pass to running back Frank Gore, the defense couldn't prevent Green Bay from converting a couple of third downs and running out the clock.
The offense, meanwhile, had its own issues.
For whatever reason the line was awful in the first half, allowing Smith to be sacked three times in ten dropbacks, pressured on most of the others, and they got completely blown up on a third-and-inches run to fullback Moran Norris.
It's one thing for a quarterback to be more comfortable in the shotgun, but how can an entire offense be? Aren't linemen supposed to prefer being down and dirty? Wasn't the team's motto "Physical with an 'F'"?
Ultimately the blame has to find its way to Singletary's doorstep.
He is far too anal and too much of a control freak to not have his fingerprints all over the offensive gameplan, despite his protests to the contrary.
"I don't care if we have to throw the ball 100 times in the game," he said in his Monday press conference. "I really do not. I don't care if we have to run the ball 100 times a game..."
And then he explained why, in fact, he does care.
"Do I like [running] better? Yes. Why? Because if I'm throwing it 100 times a game, chances are there are going to be some picks in there."
Like the one Smith threw in the second half.
On literally the only play he was under center in the final thirty minutes.
But we digress.
Raye is the 49ers seventh offensive coordinator in as many years. The last thing Smith or anyone else on that side of the ball needs is another voice barking at them and another playbook to learn over the spring.
Offensive coordinators are a dime a dozen and the ones that know what's good for them shape their philosophies to what the coaches want and what the players can do, not the other way around.
Raye was hired because his offensive philosophies most closely resembled those of his coach.
He doesn't want any of the spotlight, good or bad, and would probably prefer to have his name kept out of the papers altogether.
He has no aspirations of being the top banana some day.
The previous offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, was let go because he failed on all three of those counts.
Scott Linehan was offered the job, but thought the 0-16 Lions of 2008 had more to work with so now he gets to draw up plays for Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
It's not Raye's fault that he has to work around Singletary's massive ego. It's also not his fault that his linemen aren't very good, his receivers just got off the bus two minutes ago, or that his quarterback seems to be good at only one thing and is just now starting to recover from the shell-shock of having to deal with Mike Nolan for four years.
Weis or any other guy they bring in won't magically wave a wand and fix all that ails this team.
The solution, as always, is simply to draft better players and to have some luck in the injury department.
Or maybe the team can save a few bucks and simply have Smith be his own offensive coordinator.
Lord knows he's learned enough schemes by now and he's got the obedience to the coach thing down pat.