Mike Sherman and his staff did an excellent job getting the team ready to play. They were faced with injury after injury and the coaches had everyone that could play do just that. But what Sherman did was put the players in position to play their best. He started out with moving Brett around in the pocket so he wouldn't be a sitting target. Then he called a screen early to slow down the Saints' pass rush and take advantage of their eagerness by using the shuffle pass. Also it was nice to see more play-action passes.
Also, hat's off to offensive line coach Larry Beightol, who did a great job. Jim Bates also did an outstanding job, the best defense I've seen since the Packers' Super Bowl years.
I'm not going to talk about how the players played because everyone did a great job. Brett played the way I've expected him to play all year. He's their leader and he played that way. But what I was more impressed with was how I saw true toughness. Chad Clifton (sprained ankle) and Mark Tauscher (arch) showed their will to win and do whatever it takes. They understood the difference between pain and injury and showed TRUE GRIT. They played like old-school players. The "Ghosts of Lambeau" were proud to have them wear the Green and Gold on Sunday.
I'm old school and I really appreciate seeing warriors battle when their backs are to the wall. I saw an identity being formed on toughness. I also saw a new attitude, a tough guy emerge in Scott Wells as he started at center and did an outstanding job. His aggressiveness and willingness to get dirty and downright nasty reminded me of what it's like to see some hunger, someone that plays the game as if his life depends on it. If Wells can stay healthy I believe he is the future. I like Mike Flanagan, but Scott Wells has that mean streak that we haven't seen since Frank Winters was snapping the ball to Favre.
Even though the running game hasn't been what it has been in the past I believe with a change of attitude will certainly help. People want to give so much credit to guys that handle the ball but I give it to the guys up front because everything starts with them. Favre can't throw, Davenport couldn't have scored his two touchdowns, nor could Ferguson or Driver be productive without that toughness up front.
Jim Bates let's his guys play and that's what they have been doing. Bates has gotten total effort from the defense and it seems to be playing with high intensity. They look like they enjoy playing. It's easy to get excited when you are winning big, but I think the real excitement comes from how the defense has played.
The defensive line has a bunch of hungry guys trying to make a name for themselves, such as Cullen Jenkins, Aaron Kampman, and Kenny Peterson. Also Grady Jackson played like a man who wants to get paid. Al Harris played like a true cover corner picking off two passes from Aaron Brooks that changed the game. Mark Roman set the tempo with a violent hit on the first series, knocking the ball loss from tight end Ernie Conwell over the middle. Nick Barnett played very well, picking off the Saints backup quarterback Todd Bouman for a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown, the second longest in Packer history.
All of these things were awesome. It's nice seeing this defense improve every week. But the real thing that has made the difference has been the fundamentals of the defense. This defense has become very fundamentally sound. It is hustling to the ball, gang tackling and not making mistakes. It bends but doesn't break!
Brady Poppinga is your leader, so if everyone follows him special teams will improve!
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 PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at email@example.com, and he will forward it to him.