So with that said we have to start with ownership and commitment to winning, and we all know that the Packers, from Bob Harlan to John Jones, want nothing more than to win. We also know that the Packers have a bunch of money to deal with to bring quality free agents to this team this year. They must get into Ted Thompson's ear because they have to know the window of opportunity is closing, and closing fast.
Then when it comes to Ted Thompson, he has been building slowly getting the players he wanted in place utilizing the draft with a free agent sprinkled in here and there. So when I compare the front office people and ownership I don't think the Packers are that far from the top. Now with the coaching, I like Mike McCarthy, but he is young and he is paving his own way. Having said that, they do have some things in common which is their firmness with doing it their way. Mike, like Tony Dungy, has a plan on how he wants to do things and he doesn't waiver. When he got the job, McCarthy changed many things such as practice schedules, camp times, workout philosophies, as far as what type of weight lifting he wanted done, and we all saw improvement. Mike McCarthy stuck to his guns and still is because he has passion and believes his way will work just like Tony Dungy. McCarthy is young but he is surrounded by a pretty good supporting cast when it comes to management. It is working and we have proof because the Packers finished 8-8.
So as I go to the players and compare both sides of the ball I really think the gap is fairly close in many areas. Let's start with the offense. I don't think there is as giant of a gap as many might think. At quarterback you have Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. Even though the edge might be to Peyton, if Brett plays smart he still can play with anyone, especially if he doesn't have to win the game, but be part of the game. So I'd give small edge to Colts.
At the running back position, even though it might shock you, I think that Ahman Green and Vernand Morency can hold their own against Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai, especially if they are used the same way. That's important because any running back gets better if he is being used the way the Colts use theirs. They spread the defense out and make them have to play the whole field, which makes it easy to run.
On the offensive line I think Green Bay's young offensive line will be one of the best in the NFC next year if it can stay healthy and spend time in the weight room getting stronger. To only give up 24 sacks is outstanding with the limited experience that they had to start the year.
Where the gap gets bigger is at the receiving position, and I am including the tight end position. The Green Bay Packers are not going to be able to compete with the big boys until they can get some more playmakers – period, end of story. Bless Donald Driver and him getting to the Pro Bowl. He deserved it because he busted his butt, but he can't do it alone and he basically did this year. He dealt with double and triple coverage too many times this year. This team needs another legit receiver and I know the underground thinks that the missing link could be sitting out in Oakland, and that is Randy Moss, and believe it or not I'd be alright with that because it's about winning now. If he could keep his head on straight, I don't think Brett or Donald would complain. I know we have some young receivers but the time is now. Successful teams have that duel threat like the Colts with Wayne and Harris. Also, the Packers have a need for a tight end who can stretch the field.
The Packers offense isn't that far away from the Super Bowl winning Colts. It just needs a little help.
On the defensive side of the ball, I match this defense up against the Colts and believe the Packers would win the matchup for almost every position, except Dwight Freeney because the Packers don't have that type of impact player. Freeney's a player that makes offenses change what they are doing to account for him. But as you look at the rest of the defense, the Colts linebackers can't touch the Packers linebackers A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga. They can't hold their jocks. It's that simple, and when it comes to the secondary only Bob Sanders has the edge over Marquand Manuel. If Nick Collins can play like he did against the Bears, their is no edge, is there?
So as I look at it, this is such a crucial year for this organization. They have Brett coming back and now it's time to get to the next level. This team, compared to the rest of the NFL, is NOT THAT FAR AWAY.
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.