Sydney Speaks! Up to the task?

Offense? What offense?'s Harry Sydney offers his forecast on Green Bay's first 10 games of the season, and explains why the Packers' defense will have to be as good as it can be in order to win games.

Football season is finally right around the corner, so it's time to start looking at what's ahead for the Green Bay Packers. I know they haven't even begun training camp yet but everyone must understand that in my opinion this might be the most important season for the Green Bay Packers in a long time because for me it signals a change in philosophy. Let me further explain.

The Green Bay Packers will have to determine what success means to them this year. Will success be about winning games, or will it be about a changing of the guards? This team has been about Brett Favre and the offense putting points on the board and now it seems to be about having a solid defense and hoping it shuts people down to win games 10-7. I don't see where any offensive points will come from. I look at what Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy will be asking of this team and I don't know if it can live up to it because that's a lot of pressure on a defense knowing that you can't let the opponents score.

First, let's look at the Packers' first 10 games and then we will look at who's going to face them. I know it's just a schedule and we don't know how those teams will be because of injuries and things like that, but on the surface the Packers' first 10 opponents are no joke.

Green Bay starts off against the Eagles, who have owned the Packers over the years and have been the hump that they haven't been able to get over. The Eagles have been the Packers' mental block for years. We all remember 4th and 26, and think about how many other times have the Eagles been their nightmare.

The Packers then have to travel to New York to play the Giants. That's no easy task, especially when they are under the gun as well. After that the Chargers come rolling into town. See any victories yet? I don't.

So now they face their neighbors who everyone loves to hate - the Vikings - and their new weapon Adrian Peterson at Minnesota, which will be no easy task. That game is followed up by the Bears and Redskins, both very physical teams.

That's the first six games by now you better believe Mike McCarthy and his staff, as well as the players, will need a bye week just to catch their breaths and regroup. Then after the bye week they go on the road and play two games away at perhaps the two toughest places to play in the NFL - Denver and Kansas City where teams normally don't win.

So to round out their first 10 games the Packers come home to play the Vikings again then the Carolina Panthers. So in their first 10 games how many wins can anyone really see? Two? Maybe three? Trust me, I want to see more, but I'm thinking with my head, not my heart.

I want to say they will win more but how can they? I know the Packers' defense will have to be strong or at least I expect it to be because of how much it improved last year. I believe this linebacker corp can play with anyone. Between A.J. Hawk, Brady Poppinga and Nick Barnett, especially if he can keep his head on right, can match up against any other linebacker group and come out ahead. They have the size, speed and football intelligence.

Of course the secondary had its ups and downs but most of the time that was related to its play at safety and hopefully guys like Aaron Rouse, Marviel Underwood or my surprise player Atari Bigby will make us forget about Marquand Manuel. Hopefully Nick Collins will be over his sophomore jinx and play the way he did in last season's finale against the Bears.

The defense needs Aaron Kampman to repeat his play of last year and then have Cullen Jenkins earn his new contract as well as Ryan Pickett to play solidly like he did last year. Don't let me forget about Justin Harrell. He has to realize that this isn't college. In the NFL players play with pain. He was drafted number one by the Green Bay Packers for a reason. Did I like it? No, but it is what it is.

This defense will have to have big shoulders because not only will it be facing a tough schedule, but it will be doing it with a handicap - the offense. There is none and I will touch on that in next week's article.

I hope Winston Moss and Bob Sanders understand what's in store for them. This defense will have to win games and can't afford the mistakes that happened last year. It has to be UP TO THE TASK for the Packers to win!!!!!!!

Harry Sydney

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

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