And what I am talking about is let's slow down and seize the moment. Ask yourself how many of you would have thought in a million years this team would, after nine games, have just as many wins as they had last year, and probably should have had more. Yes, I know that the wins might have come against horrible teams with losing records, but so what? A win is a win. Not only that, but the way they are winning is what is really impressing me. They are playing solid defense for 95% of the game.
Bob Sanders has learned on the job and turned into a pretty good defensive coordinator up to this point because he is learning how to use all his weapons. He has figured out that Brady Poppinga plays better when he is attacking opposed to sitting back on his heels trying to figure out things. He also has realized that A. J. Hawk should never leave the field. Another thing that he is slowly learning is that the secondary especially the corners play better when they are locked on man to man and that most of the as they say missed communication comes when zone coverage's are in effect so maybe he will play more man than zone because then they play to the defenses strengths instead of their weakness. And that the safeties are better the closer they are to the line of scrimmage. Remember when Sanders was hired we all, including myself, had plenty of doubt about his ability to lead this defense. Do I still have some concerns? Sure I do, and this week against the Patriots, their weaknesses might just get exposed. But we must understand who they are facing - the New England Patriots, so keep that in mind.
This is an up-and-coming team that so far has surpassed so many things. I don't want this matchup against what some have called the modern day genius, Bill Belichick, to be a measuring stick on how good the Packers are. Just like Belichick put an excellent game plan that destroyed the Vikings that the Packers followed, you have to think he will put a good one together to face the Packers, especially considering the fact that for the first time in many years they have lost two games in a row. The Packers are going to try and make it three in a row. Let's just say I don't like the odds of that happening.
Am I saying the Packers can't win? Not at all, but what I am saying is that we have to be realistic on our expectations for the outcome this week. We have to be careful that we don't set this team up for failure. Think about it, for this team to win it has to shut down Tom Brady without a consistent pass rush. Think about the quarterbacks that they have faced in their wins and what they did to them. They faced John Kitna, Matt Leinart, J.P. Losman and Brad Johnson with only Brad Johnson being in the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFC. They can't compare to what Tom Brady can do to this defense through the air.
Then when they decide to go to the ground game they will be facing probably the best young running back in the game in Laurence Maroney, who runs with an attitude. This is the game that our defense can't cheat. It has to play straight up because they are playing against a two dimensional team, one that's as dangerous on the ground as it is in the air. The defense can't afford to blitz because Tom Brady lives for the blitz. So we can measure this defense against the Patriots but I just don't want the expectations to be too high.
Offensively, I do have high expectations because the Packers' coaches showed that they know how to game plan. Even though the Patriots defense is ranked fourth in the AFC I'm a believer in this offensive line and because the Pats aren't overpowering and the zone blocking scheme, it allows them to block whomever is in their way. I do expect for Ahman Green to have running room and he should have a good game. But I am concerned that because the Pats defense brings it from so many different positions that the offensive line might struggle with protection, which might rattle Brett. I hope that doesn't happen because I have been very impressed with his decision-making. He has done nothing but help his team and I don't want the Brett of the past to come back.
The coaches and players have their job cut out for them this week, but I don't want panic to set in because these are the Patriots coming to town coached by maybe the best coach in the National Football league, and led by arguably the best quarterback in the game if that is determined by the jewelry on his fingers. So as we are letting the words playoffs slip through our lips, let's be careful because this team has come a long way but has a long way to go. So be careful. TAKE IT SLOW AND ENJOY THE GROWTH because it wasn't expected this soon!!!!
Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at email@example.com.