Sydney Speaks! Close but no cigar

"We lost but we are getting close." I'm tired of hearing that because I'm not sure of how close the Green Bay Packers are to winning a game. And I'm getting tired of hearing, "Well, last year they were 1-4 and turned things around." Guess what? This year's team isn't the team of last year, and I'll tell you why as I break down the game.

Why hasn't the offense put the points on the board the way everyone expected it to do this year? Unfortunately there are a lot of reasons. Let's start with Mike Sherman and/or the play-caller. They must put the players in position to be successful and they aren't, especially in the run game. An example here is the type of runs the Packers were trying to execute against the Bucs, who are small up front. You must try and overpower them by running right at them. When you go side to side you play into their hands because speed kills. YOU GO RIGHT AT THEM IN BETWEEN THE TACKLES. How many times did the Packers lose yards or only get one or two when trying to go around the edge on Sunday?

With all the time these coaches and Mike Sherman spend at 1265 Lombardi there comes a time when they need to work smarter, not harder. Smarter would have been to go back into the tape vault and look up when the running game was more successful. Ahman Green should get the ball more. It seems llike the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

Also, as a head coach, either show faith in your players or get new players because with 1:53 left in the half to not try and score with Brett Favre speaks volumes. But then again how much faith does Sherman have in Favre? In three games he has seven interceptions and only five touchdowns. If any other quarterback had these numbers and was 0-3, fans would be calling for his head. To make matters worse, Favre's interceptions were on terrible throws, throws that never should have been attempted. On Favre's deep pass to Donald Driver there were three defenders in better position. I thought it was a punt. I was looking for a fair catch signal! On Favre's pass that Brian Kelly intercepted … what was that? Donald was supposed to stop and jump backwards or something. Leaders are supposed to lead the team by example, not hurt the team more than anyone else.

This team is missing two Pro Bowl caliber guards, their best wide receiver, and their quarterback is playing lousy. The Packers can't run the ball, yet they're going to turn it around? I was born at night, but not last night. WERE YOU?

This defense played its butt off until it got overpowered by an excellent running team in the Bucs. Carnell "Cadillac" Williams looked like an 18-wheeler late in the game because the more he carried the stronger he got.

Until this defense gets a pass rush it will only be a hard-working bunch of guys who get CLOSE. There were some nice individual efforts, like when Ahmad Carroll made an awesome play on his interception, or the way Aaron Kampman just kept on coming like the Energizer battery rabbit. Al Harris battled all over the field as did Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. My hat's off to all of them. But how much better can this defense play, considering its youth and talent as well as the struggles of the offense? Grady Jackson is complaining about playing time. Nick Barnett plays very hard, but he's not making a difference. He makes plays going side to side but when teams run right at him, he gets overpowered. He needs to step up his game, but is that possible?

There's a lot of youth on defense so there will be growing pains, but at what cost? Ask yourself: Are they REALLY THAT CLOSE?

Terrence Murphy has found a home as a kick returner. He looked pretty comfortable back there against Tampa Bay. The coverage units played well most of the game. Let's not worry about Ryan Longwell. Despite the mishaps by the Packers against the Bucs we realized that he is human, and we've been spoiled by him over the years. Because of all the games that he has saved the Packers' butts, he gets a free pass from me.

CLOSE BUT NO CIGARS. You win nothing for moral victories. The Packers are 0-3 and close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes. If that's the case, every team that loses will find something good in the game. How close are the Packers to winning? Close to what?

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to managing editor Todd Korth at

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