Sydney Speaks! Coaching crucial for Packers

It's a lot easier to coach when you have all the regular starters playing because then all you have to do is add just a little advice here and there. I call it adding some sugar and spice. It's not hard to make a number one or number two draft pick look good, or take a rookie that's played at a major school under all kinds of pressure and make him a superstar. But injuries change everything and things don't stop. Time doesn't stand still. The games still have to get played.

It doesn't matter who is in the game because they have to play up to a certain level. They can't be the weak link of the chain!

Coaching is about putting the players in position to be successful. I've written that before and I believe it without a doubt. As a former coach my job was to prepare everyone of my backup players like they are one play away from having to save the day. They had to study like the starters and prepare themselves as such. You never know when a rash of injuries will hit.

We might as well call the game against Carolina "BLACK MONDAY" due to all the injuries to the Packers. The casualties are at this time Mike Flanagan, Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, Terrence Murphy, Na'il Diggs, Ahman Green, Earl Little, and Roy Manning. There are others but this is enough. So what does all this mean? It means that the coaches have to coach their butts off in every position.

It starts up front with Larry Beightol. He has been under the microscope all year because of how he has moved the O-linemen around, not settling on starters until right before opening day. He's been very successful in his time with the Packers. The offensive line has been the cornerstone and strength of this team since Beightol has been here. With Flanagan out for Sunday's game and possibly Clifton, we'll find out now how good Beightol really is as a coach. I feel he's one heck of a coach. He's weathered many storms. If he can get these potential starters on Sunday to handle the pressure they will face from the Saints we all should tip or hats off to him. According to many rumors, the line won't start the game the way it finished against Carolina. I believe they did an excellent job. Instead they will go with Tauscher at left tackle Klemm at left guard and Wells at center the put Ruegamer at right guard and Kevin Barry at right tackle. I know the coaching staff has its reasons for doing it this way. I just hope it works. If Green can't go, Edgar Bennett has to coach Najeh Davenport into hitting the hole like a big man and not tap dancing like he weighs 210 pounds. It might help if the play caller runs him up between the tackles capitalizing on his strengths, not his weakness which is getting around the edge. As for James Franklin, the receivers coach, his job is to help Robert Ferguson understand that he has to come across the middle and play like a starter in the NFL. Starters can't be gun shy, or they can't play. Javon's not there and he won't be this year, so he has to get the backups to play like they are auditioning for the future, because they are.

I believe the coaching on this side of the ball has been above average for the most part. I think Jim Bates has been as advertised - a very sound and fundamental leader. He has guys that couldn't or wouldn't make it on other NFL teams playing inspired football. He puts them in proper position most of the time and that's all he can do. He can't come off the bench and tackle. If he did he probably would have done better than Al Harris on Stephen Davis's touchdown run or when DeShaun Foster showed the world how to execute the perfect stiff arm as witnessed up close and personal by Mr. Little. Bates wouldn't have let that happen because he has too much pride.

Head Coach
It comes down to Mike Sherman. He has faced major adversity in the past but nothing like this. We all will find out just how good of a coach he is because it's easy to coach Pro Bowlers and superstars. And it's easy to coach when everything is going well. I like Mike Sherman. I think he's a good coach, but liking him has nothing to do with whether he can get the job done. Mike has helped make this bed, so now it's time to EARN HIS KEEP!

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, and he will forward it to him.

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