Offensively, the Packers executed a perfect game plan to walk out of the stadium with a win. Last week I wrote about the mistakes of the staff as the Packers walked away from Buffalo with their heads down, but after this win they should feel like they are giants. They were flawless as a staff. Everything they did came up roses, well, almost everything, anyway.
Let's start on the offense. Mike McCarthy called a brilliant game by keeping the Vikings defense off balance all game long. He did it on the first series of the game by coming out and throwing three straight plays because he knew the Williams boys, after talking about the cut blocking, were gearing up to stop the run. So, McCarthy didn't give them what they wanted. Talk about playing mind games!
After that he kept Brett Favre into the game and didn't let him get caught up in the ghost of Minnesota. He had Brett roll out at times and he used play-action early then realized the offensive line was doing such a good job of protection that he allowed Brett to just sit in the pocket and make it happen, and he did. Also another great call was on the touchdown to Noah Herron. He knew that the Vikings were expecting a slant so he ran Noah on a what they call a "Sway" route which was an excellent call because the Vikings jump the slants, and that allowed for a natural pick on Noah's man which slowed him up just enough for the touchdown. Great move.
The other great thing was the philosophy we talked about last week when I said he needed to go into the game throwing to get ahead and make the Vikings have to play catch-up, and they couldn't. It was awesome to see Mike McCarthy turn Brett loose, but in a controlled way. Trust me, a lot of what happened was because of his game plan, but again the plan had to be carried out and his players got that done. We will get to that later.
Defensively, the way Bob Sanders has grown in the coordinator position has been a very pleasant surprise. He is showing me some killer instinct and that is so good to see. In the last two weeks I have seen him do something I was hoping he'd do and that's turn the dogs loose. What I mean by that is send the best athletes he has, which is the linebackers, and let them cause havoc. He did and they have on the quarterbacks. He finally is taking advantage of the skills they possess and they are making a difference on defense. I'd be hard pressed to find three young linebackers that can do the things A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga can do, and that's get after people.
I will even give some credit to Mike Stock, the special teams coach. Finally he doubled the gunners on punt returns, which allowed the punt returner at least the opportunity to catch the ball without the cover guys breathing down his neck. EXCELLENT JOB COACHING!!!!!! As good as they coached, it's up to the players to execute and that they did, so let's take a look at them.
As always it starts up front and against the Vikings it was a clinic on pass protection. Scott Wells, Daryn Colledge, Chad Clifton, Jason Spitz, Mark Tauscher and Tony Moll, who came in and replaced the injured Mark Tauscher, played an incredible game, especially in the passing game. Also, another great job by Mike McCarthy for not expecting these guys to move mountains, because that wasn't going to happen. He answered the question I had for him last week. He proved to me that he is trying to win and that his willingness to do what it takes to get that win.
As for Brett Favre I can honestly say that he seems to be getting better with age. I saw him do some things that I can't remember him doing, such as just sliding in the pocket instead of running around in a panic. He reminded me of Tom Brady the way he worked his feet as he looked to just glide around to find his vision as well as just throwing the ball away. In the past I have questioned Brett's decision-making, but against the Vikings he was as sharp as I could remember.
Hat's off to Donald Driver who is having the best year of any receiver in the NFL. My advice to him is to go on and make them reservations to the Pro Bowl because he will be there in February. Driver is playing just that outstanding.
I know William Henderson isn't the starter anymore and Brandon Miree will be the guy when he gets back, but Mr. Henderson is one tough son-of-a-gun to continue to play after he injured his knee. That shows me just how much he loves this game and what he is willing to do for this organization. Please don't forget that, Ted, and the boys up top.
Ahman Green ran very hard and got everything he could. Everyone had roles and did them to the best of their abilities against the Vikings and that's why they won!!!!!
Speed, speed and more speed and that's what this team has, especially at the linebacker position. Not only that, but they are tempo-setters, like what Brady Poppinga did by sacking Brad Johnson and causing the fumble that changed the direction of the game in the first quarter. With that, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk are one and two on this team in tackling. Talk about some friendly competition which will only make this team better. And it is getting better because of them.
It seems that there are some very hard workers on defense such as Aaron Kampman. He didn't get any sacks, but he was a force in stopping the run as well as Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams. For that matter I saw Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila get to the quarterback on several occasions, which was an improvement.
As good as the secondary has been playing, its play has been overshadowed because of the miscommunication problem that seems to be happening week after week, and it seems to always be centering around Al Harris. Charles Woodson is earning his keep, which is allowing for the defensive coordinator Bob Sanders to call a more aggressive game. It was even nice to see Patrick Dendy get an interception.
After going into a hostile environment and walking away with a victory, my hats off to the coaches and players. They put together a game plan and the players executed it. It was like watching POETRY IN MOTION.
Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.