Be that as it may, one of the healthiest things I think this team could have is a little touch of amnesia. They need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and do their best to forget their horrendous start. It's time to start turning things in the right direction. Frankly, it won't be very easy and there isn't any concrete evidence that such a turnaround is likely to happen. But, to a man, they've got to try.
I've been asked by the folks at Packer Report.com to file a few special reports during the course of this season to give you my overall impressions of where the Packers have been, where they are and where they may be headed. With that in mind, let's break down this season so far.
For whatever reason, the Packer offense has looked like a mere shadow of itself – a huge disappointment after that big opening night victory in Carolina. As I watch Brett Favre, it looks like he is probably finally feeling the effects of 13 years without missing a game. This is not saying that I don't feel he still can play at a high level, but his body has to be wearing down. Make no mistake – when you are 35 years old, it simply becomes incredibly difficult to recuperate week-after-week from such physical abuse.
Overall, the biggest issue that's going on is that the Packers have gotten away from what they do best and that's running the football in a dominating way with Ahman Green. Even the running-back-by-committee with Tony Fisher and Najeh Davenport has evaporated, though I realize Davenport has been hurt. In the past, when the Packers were really on top of their game they had Green and the running game at its best. Everything in the Packers' offense is set up by the run – the play action pass, the misdirection and naked bootlegs passes off the play action that Brett does so well are all predicated on the running game. Since week 1 against Carolina, they've gone away from the running game and it's hurt them a lot. Losing Mike Flanagan was a huge blow to the line because it's hard to replace an All-Pro at the very important center position, especially if you're a team that wants to run.
It's also frustrating to see the lack of production coming from the receiving corps of Javon Walker, Robert Ferguson and Donald Driver. Outside of the shoot-out with the Colts and a 100-yard plus games from both Walker and Driver against Tennessee, there hasn't been much to shout about. Last year it looked as if this group was really starting to step up and come into their own. I was expecting a lot more balance from this offense this year. They really aren't a passing threat and I don't think opponents are respecting the deep pass from the Packers. To make that happen, they've got to get back to the running game first because the run sets up their passing game.
It is quite evident to me that this group is really very confused. Because they don't know what their strengths are yet, it's hard for this group to find its identity. And, like it or not, it's obvious that losing Mike McKenzie was a big blow for the defense. They've got some promising youngsters in the secondary in guys like Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas, but they're just not ready to make a big impact right now.
The aggressive style of blitzing defense that Bob Slowik implemented for this year was very successful against Carolina. Everybody thought this style of defense was the greatest thing in the world. But Carolina's problem was that they didn't have any game film to prepare themselves for this set of defensive schemes. We caught them by surprise and our defense looked very good. But in the second week, the defense wasn't as effective against Chicago because the Bears studied the Carolina game film and made a lot of pass protection adjustments. The Bears did a much better job in protecting their quarterback against the all-out blitzes and they took advantage of the blitzes with their running game as well as their passing game because there was a lot of man-to-man coverage in the secondary. Once the injuries (Grady Jackson, James Lee, etc.) started to pile up, the Packers had themselves some real problems. The secondary is struggling; there is no real pass rush and no run stopper up the middle. Without the element of surprise, teams like the Colts, the Giants and the Titans – teams with veteran quarterbacks in Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Steve McNair – have been able to exploit Green Bay's defensive weaknesses. The defense has to find its identity – learn the things it does best – and get healthy as quickly as possible. The Packers may have to adjust to more of a bend-but-don't-break style of play, allowing short passes over the middle but protecting against the big plays that they've been giving up.
So far, I'd say the special teams have been fairly solid, but not spectacular. It would really be nice to see them break some long kick or punt returns. That's the kind of thing that can really spark a team. (Remember Desmond Howard and Allen Rossum?)
So much has been said and written already about Mike Sherman. That's always going to be the case when you get off to a rocky start to the season. Sherman is under the gun because of his two job titles and a growing public opinion that this team is lacking talent. No doubt, his general manager capabilities are being questioned. The team is still carrying two punters and made no key off-season acquisitions to strengthen the defense. To make matters worse, the Tim Couch experiment failed and several of the team's draft picks the last few years haven't been very productive. Add it all up and Mike's really got his work cut out for him.
Editor's Note: Don "Majik" Majkowski played for the Packers for six seasons (1987-92). He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1989 when he led the NFL in passing yards (4,318). In addition to his duties with Packer Report, fans can catch Majik every Monday morning on WSAU-AM 550 in Wausau. He also is a frequent guest on "Pack Attack" on WAOW-TV 9 (Wausau) and occasionally contributes sideline reports for WITI - Fox 6 (Milwaukee). He was recently quoted in The New York Times on the mystique of playing at Lambeau Field.