The bye week gave players, coaches and the whole football staff, including the training room personnel, a chance to evaluate themselves and decide if indeed they were on the right path to accomplishing the goals that the team had set in the beginning of the year. It is so tough, when trying to establish those goals, if you can't keep the starting unit on the field week after week. But the offensive line stepped up to the plate when Chad Clifton was unable to go. Daryn Colledge had to move to left tackle, Jason Spitz moved over to left guard and Tony Moll came off the bench to fill in at right guard. None of this was planned or worked on during the bye week.
Coaches did tell the players that they all had to step up their play and be willing to make sacrifices, and play wherever needed to help this team win ball games. That's exactly what they did. There was a time around here when anyone could step in and play on that offensive line with the team not skipping a beat. Kudos goes out to the coaching staff for making the adjustments early so that Colledge could get his rhythm and confidence so they could stay with their game plan. An attacking style is the identity this team wants. Quick, short rhythm passes, and pound the ball using up every second of the clock. This sounds and looks like the West Coast offense of old.
The Packers continued that philosophy on defense with cornerback Charles Woodson coming off the edge with a blitz. Now we're getting back to former defensive coordinator Jim Bates' style of defense. In order to keep the offense guessing, Bates kept it simple and in the attack mode the whole game with timely blitzes from every position, including the defensive tackle and end in zone blitz packages. Bob Sanders' defense at times looks uncomplicated and aggressive compared to recent weeks, but I still can't understand why safety Nick Collins is struggling. I would like to blame it on the lack of continuity that the secondary suffered without having all the starters together throughout the OTA's and training camp. The no shows and injuries resulted in a lack of a strong working relationship. His play alone will have to improve for the secondary to be anywhere near where it was last year.
The Packers showed the National Football League last Sunday a new attitude, so now it's up to the coaching staff to be ready to play the chess game and counter the opponents' moves the rest of the year. We'll have to wait and see how these coaches adjust, especially with the lack of depth and nagging injuries starting to develop more frequently.
When Lovie Smith took over as head coach of the Chicago Bears, his number one goal was to beat Green Bay. Mike McCarthy's goal is to re-establish a winning tradition at Lambeau Field. This Sunday can be a step in the right direction.
Editor's note: Former safety Johnnie Gray played for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at Gray24@tds.net.