Sydney Speaks! Stop blaming it on the youth!

The Green Bay Packers enter their Monday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 1-2 record. But columnist Harry Sydney feels that the Packers should be 2-1, and it's not because of the younger players on the team.

I don't want to hear anymore about the youth of this team. I'm tired of listening to radio stations or looking at the television and seeing the sports commentators act like this team is filled with players that have no clue at what's going on out on the field. I want the excuses to stop because this team at this point should be 2-1 instead of 1-2, and here's why!!!

Like Brett Favre said in training camp, this is a team with a lot of talent, no question about it. They do have some young guns, but these young guns have been the stars at their colleges and have, for the most part, faced major competition.

Do you think A.J. Hawk is playing like a normal rookie? I don't think so, but why would he? He played at Ohio State against major schools. All he has done is make plays, like the way he blitzed and got to Jon Kitna last week on the blitz. Talk about a big play! Or the way he has tackled, which has been outstanding. Once he gets his hands on you it's over. Then you have Greg Jennings. All he has done has help people forget about Javon Walker. He has done more in three games than Robert Ferguson as done since he has been here, and I'm not talking about stats, I'm talking about becoming a consistent go-to guy, along with Donald Driver.

Can anyone point to these to Hawk and Jennings and say that anyone else can do better? I don't believe I can. Can you? So as I see it, any argument about youth as it relates to these guys can just be flushed down the toilet.

Now let's move to the offensive line even though they aren't opening any giant holes in the run game, they have been doing a very good job verses the pass rush which was evident by the fact that Brett Favre was not sacked last week against the Lions. Guess who's up there protecting the middle? Nothing but youth. Daryn Colledge, Scott Wells and Tony Moll have done a pretty good job holding down the fort. Also, if you hear talk about why the run game isn't going well and they say it's because they can't get the backside cutoffs, well guess who's controlling that? It's the two veterans - Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton. They are having trouble with the cut blocks because that is something that they aren't used to doing.

So let's take a look at the mistakes that have been made over the course of the first three games and the problems. First, we all know Brady Poppinga can't cover, but is that his fault? That has nothing to do with being young, but more with being put in a bad position. He was a down lineman most of his time in college, and now they are trying to make him a cover linebacker.

But the big plays have come against our secondary which is mainly made up of veterans. Marquand Manuel, Al Harris and Charles Woodson are supposed to be the big-money players, but they are messing up for the most part. Yes, it is true Manuel did return an interception for a touchdown, but how many has he given up? Also, up to this point has Charles Woodson and Al Harris lived up to the SHUTDOWN CORNER TAG that even I wanted to give them prior to this season?

Then we have Nick Barnett who I believe needs to move over to the strong-side linebacker to allow the best linebackers on the field, which again is the coaches' call. And, by the way, Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila have to bring it all the time. That's what veterans are supposed to do, not just against guys they are supposed to beat like Aaron did against the Saints. When isn't he supposed to overpower a tight end?

So, the most consistent defenders are Nick Collins and A.J. Hawk. How's that for youth? Still, the media is trying to tell the world that the problem with the Packers are that the young guys aren't playing well, and I say that's CRAP!

Now back to the other side of the ball. Again how many times is Ahman Green going to put the ball on the ground? And as for Brett Favre, the last two weeks he has played incredible, no doubt about it. However, if you look at the miscues this season he's had his share fumbles and interceptions regardless of what he was trying to get done. Bubba Franks and Ahman Green have dropped more passes than any rookie.

The only thing that is young that I have questions about is the coaching on both sides of the ball. Both the coordinators might just be asking players to do something they can't do. For example, Brady Poppinga trying to cover Joe Horn of the Saints, or Chad Clifton trying to throw cut blocks. Head coach Mike McCarthy for running the ball with Ahman Green late in the game against the Lions when taking a knee was all they needed to do to win the game.

It's time to take away the excuses because this team should really be 2-1. Let's STOP BLAMING THE YOUTH OF THE PLAYERS for the loses because it's the veterans that are not carrying their weight for the most part!!!!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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