Sydney Speaks! Hoping his plan will work

New Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has made a number of changes this off-season as he attempts to lead the Packers back from a disappointing 2005 season. Harry Sydney offers his thoughts on some of those changes in his column today.

The Green Bay Packers are hard at work at this particular time with their last real tune-up of the off-season. The coaches are doing a whole lot of coaching trying to prepare the players and themselves for training camp and the upcoming season, but that's not all that's going on. Let me tell you what else is happening.

The coaches are watching and paying close attention to all the veterans and young players to see how they are adjusting to the new things that are being asked of them. These veterans are being asked to sacrifice and change the way they have done things for so long, but why wouldn't they? Their old way wasn't working and the young players are just trying to figure things out. Football at this level is about winning Super Bowls, and everything else doesn't matter. The way I see it this past year the only team that won was the Pittsburgh Steelers and every other organization came in second place.

Mike McCarthy has taken and changed this whole off-season and put his stamp on it which is great, but right or wrong, if it doesn't work he will have no one else to blame. I like McCarthy's approach. In his mind he seems to have said "if it's broke don't fix it, but then again if it is broken we must fix it." Look at all the changes he has made this off-season. He changed and went away from the traditional mini-camp schedule of having the veterans in before the draft, then having the rookies join the veterans right after the draft. He decided that he didn't want to do it that way he didn't want anyone to have an edge. He wanted everyone to start off at the same place and compete together and learn together with no one having an edge. Look at what he has done with this off-season's workout program. He changed the basic philosophy of how the Packers lift weights. He seems to want more power and less finesse. He seems to be trying to establish a mindset of toughness, and I like it.

Trust me it probably doesn't seem like a big deal changing how someone lifts weights but the thing that impressed me is thought process that he must have put into it. Talk about having a plan of success by understanding that there is a relationship between weight lifting and your style of play. Not only that but having Rock Gullickson in the wings and understanding what Mike McCarthy wants from his players, which again shows a head coach with a plan, and a plan on how to execute it. I don't know about you, but for me it's a pleasant change.

Let's take a look a some other things he has put his stamp on. How about the quarterback camp? The young quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Ingle Martin and Tom Arth have been going to school and they have been getting groomed for the departure of Brett Favre, whenever that is. He has them competing in different drills as if they are in some form of boot camp all designed to insure that the dropoff won't be so dramatic when the legendary gunslinger decides it's time to move on.

Also, I really like how he has surrounded himself with coaches that aren't afraid to speak their minds. He wants to win football games and realizes that he doesn't know everything about the game and is still willing to learn things from his assistants which means there has to be a high level of mutual trust. This is apparent because as I watch practices I see a comfort zone between all the coaches. I give you a little test that you can use whether you are watching the Packers, or your favorite high school or college team. When watching practice notice if assistant coaches change their tone when the head coach walks near their drills. If they change their manner then they are nervous or unsure, but if they stay the same they are confident in their abilities and feel they have to impress no one, including the head coach. This is what I see from the new Green Bay Packers coaching staff - nothing but confidence in its ability to teach. This will be a good thing because another change McCarthy has put his name beside is how the Packers will practice this training camp, starting by having everyone come into camp at the same time. There will be no rookies in camp for three days to wear themselves down before the veterans get into town. And besides that they will start with having practices at night which means everything about camp will be different for everyone. Things like play installation will be different, meeting times will be different even how they practice will be different. They will start out in pads right out the gate.

I for one hope that all these changes work for the best because one of the things that Ted Thompson stated that he liked about Mike McCarthy was that he had a plan. I just HOPE HIS PLAN WILL WORK!!!!!!!!!!

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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