Mike Sherman had his best game as a coach this year without question. Not only did he stick with the run but he finally ran the right running plays. As a former player and coach I understand that you have to put players in position for them to be successful, and against the Falcons that's exactly what Sherman did.
Let's start with the running game. He called the perfect plays to allow the offensive line to set the tempo. He allowed Scott Wells to use his athletic ability and his toughness as they pulled him and used him for kick-out blocks. They ran downhill allowing Samkon Gado to use his strength and that's hitting it with his shoulders square right between the tackles, running with a purpose. For weeks I have been complaining about that toss pitch because all it did was consistently lose yards, and I don't think we saw that once. THANK GOODNESS!
And as for the passing game, Sherman kept Brett Favre under control by keeping him focused on simply moving the chains and making throws that he could throw in his sleep - the SLANT! What was great to see was they kept coming back to the slant over and over again and the Falcons couldn't stop it. Favre hit Antonio Chatman and Donald Driver time after time in different windows. What I mean by windows is usually the slant is thrown between the corner and safety, but sometimes the receiver will run past the safety, then get the ball from Favre and that happened several times in the game. One example was the big third down conversion to Donald Driver, although that was a crossing route, but it's the same thought pattern.
The offensive staff showed an awareness that I hadn't seen all year. They made corrections and adjustments that were obvious, such as Edgar Bennett's major adjustment with Gado. Samkon had some success early cutting back, then he started looking for it too much and missing holes. Then you see Edgar talking to him in between series, probably saying that he was thinking to much trying to make too big of a play. He also must told him to trust the blocking because at that point he did. GREAT JOB EDGAR!
What a great game plan by Jim Bates. He showed the football world how to get into the head of maybe the NFL's biggest weapon, Mike Vick. Not only did they blitz at the perfect times but he had his players understanding how to blitz in the right gaps. He also seemed to be inside the Falcons playbook because every time Vick tried to do a bootleg the Packers had an answer. One time it would be Aaron Kampman keeping contain, then the next time it would be the cornerback coming off the end. AWESOME! Bates also had them blitzing from every angle and at different times. One time Nick Barnett went up the middle, or Al Harris came off the edge. Then he would switch Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila from side to side so that the Falcons running game couldn't locate Kabeer in time to run at him. GREAT MOVE!
But what I really like was the attitude I saw the defense playing with. They were flying around tackling the ball playing like a bunch of guys that were believing in themselves. I saw a defense not scared to make a mistake. The reason I say this is awesome coaching is because there are a bunch of guys on this team that couldn't or wouldn't make a play last year and now they are fighting to make the play. THAT'S COACHING. Not only that but look what Bates has done with the rookies and how he is allowing them to play. Nick Collins is playing like a veteran. Ahmad Carroll, even though he still makes stupid penalties and pounds his chest like some immature kid and got beat deep, is still playing aggressively. You want that in a corner. Trust me, it could be worse. Bates has these guys playing at a level I haven't seen in Green Bay since the Super Bowl teams. GREAT JOB!
For the most part the coverage teams have done a great job, mostly all year. Against the Falcons they faced one of the best in the league in Allen Rossum and did a very good job in containing him for most of the game. Brady Poppinga and the old man, William Henderson, just keep making plays. If it's not one it's the other.
Ryan Longwell had another of many great kicking performances. It's good to see him getting over the hump!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and he will forward it to him.