Sydney Speaks! Braving the storm

Who is Mike McCarthy? Jeff Jagodzinski? How will members of the new Packers coaching staff adjust to one another, and can it eventually lead the team to an NFL title? Former Packers assistant coach and fullback Harry Sydney offers unique insight on what he knows of the new coach and his top offensive assistant from the season that he coached with them in 1999.

The Green Bay Packer fans are caught up in a storm wondering which way the wind is blowing. For a lot of fans they aren't sure about Mike McCarthy and the direction he is going. Myself, I don't know what the outcome will be, but after talking to him I do realize he does have a plan and that's all any of us can ask of any coach, RIGHT?

McCarthy will face many obstacles as a young head coach. We as fans ask ourselves: Can he handle it and can he take the Packers to the promised land? Much more, some are asking if he is surrounding himself with enough experience to be able to help him right the ship if it gets off course again. I can't answer that without a little hesitation. Trust me, it's not because I don't believe he is smart enough because I know for sure he knows football inside and out. That year I worked with him he brought confidence into every meeting. He was always prepared and would critique the quarterback position like a coach is supposed to. He called it the way he saw it. If Brett made a mistake he didn't sugarcoat it, or make excuses. He was committed to a level of excellence and he prepared himself and the quarterbacks to perform that way, and that's all any coach can do.

McCarthy's desire to win was equal to his willingness to stand up for what he believed in. Oftentimes we would have discussions on blocking schemes when it had to do with the actions of the running backs. You must understand I was old school when it came to making any adjustments that took the West Coast offense into unchartered waters. I would resist but he would explain things in a way that made myself and others want to listen. I hope he hasn't changed, even though he's running the show now because as much as he believed in his ideas he listened to others as well.

Jeff Jagodzinski is the same type of individual, another student of the game. Because he was the tight ends coach, we spent more time together putting in the run game. He was like a sponge. He soaked up knowledge as we would have our early morning run meeting usually at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. Monday nights was spent by ourselves watching tapes, gathering ideas to best attack the opponents' defense with the running game. At that time I saw the work ethic, the commitment, and the drive necessary to be a success in this business. I think he will do a fine job as the offensive coordinator.

But please understand when I coached with McCarthy and Jagodzinski things were different. They were part of the show but now they run the show and that is a little different. It's one thing to make suggestions and it's another thing to have suggestions made to you, and you have to decide the best course of action. I know McCarthy has a great football mind and only time will tell if he can communicate it to the players. Is he a leader of men? Who knows? I can't answer that. Can Mike McCarthy handle the pressure of making the adjustments necessary to win games on Sunday in front of 72,000 people? He believes he can. And what's more important, Ted Thompson does. When you look at it, that's really all that matters isn't it? And for that matter the same questions might be asked about Jagodzinski. Will he be able to make the adjustments necessary to win games when things aren't going well offensively? Will he be able to handle the pressure?

Another part of their responsibility includes not only putting an offense together, but evaluating talent. It's not only the scouts' responsibility to find talent, it's theirs as well. They will have to pick the players in the draft that fit whatever scheme they plan to use and unfortunately they can't afford to miss. Let's just look at what McCarthy and his staff will face in the next couple months:
-- assembling a staff;
-- finding a time for the staff to get to know each other's personalities;
-- putting in a different scheme on offense, maybe on defense as well;
-- free agency, losing players as well as hopefully signing some;
-- going to work out college players;
-- the Brett Favre saga and how that decision will effect face of the Green Bay Packers.

So, as I have said I think Mike McCarthy could be a very good head coach because all everyone wants in life is an opportunity and now he has it. His work ethic and understanding of the game might make him good. I just hope he doesn't get CAUGHT IN THE STORM!

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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