I know I can't predict the future. All I can go on is what I've seen or what I know. Up to this point I really believe that A.J. Hawk, Brady Poppinga and Nick Barnett, if he stays out of trouble, will have an outstanding year. Of course it will take more than just them for the defense to be what it has to be in order for the Packers to at least compete this season. The defensive line has to play as good or better. Aaron Kampman along with the team's newest millionaire, Cullen Jenkins, can't have a dropoff, and Ryan Pickett must stay healthy.
Also, the secondary must improve. It can't just have Charles Woodson and Al Harris playing good and the safeties hurting the defense. This side of the ball should be about playing, not coaching, where the other side of the ball is where the coaching will really have to take place.
This is where Mike McCarthy is really going to have to earn his keep, or in other words, coach his butt off. As I see it, he and the Green Bay Packers only have two proven weapons - Brett Favre and Donald Driver period end of story. I am not talking about the offensive line. It is good and will only get better because they have a lot of things going for them. Besides the obvious things like youth they are gaining experience and much more they are gaining experience playing together.
Just like the linebackers are the strength of the defense, the offensive line will have to be the strength of the offense. But the problem is offensive linemen don't score any touchdowns unless they pick up a fumble in the end zone and you can't count on them in the red zone.
What is Mike McCarthy going to do? Last year he talked about establishing the run and threw it more than anyone, even though he had one of the best running backs in Green Bay Packer history in Ahman Green. So what's he going to do this year considering the fact that they are hoping a group of backs can do the job of one man? Now Brett Favre is older and probably doesn't have a whole bunch left in his tank and I say that with no disrespect, but he can't carry a team on his back anymore. Those days are over.
So the question I have is how is Mike McCarthy going to coach this year? I wonder does he coach to keep it close, and do the Packers become a version of their rivals to the south - the Chicago Bears - and become driven by the defense or does he turn it lose? I wonder is this Ted Thompson's formula for success? How much more can Mike McCarthy do enough with this offense to put points on the board? Or when he put his name on the contract to coach the Green Bay Packers did he think he would find himself becoming a defensive minded coach? And can he be that type of coach?
Putting points on the board won't be easy this year. Having a running backs by committee sounds good, and it works on good teams when everyone is established and they are willing to share the wealth and understand the big picture. But Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency are still trying to prove they are good enough to be a starter in the NFL, so will they be willing to share?
As for the receiving position, here we go again, a bunch of good guys but nothing great. The Packers needed speed, so they drafted David Clowney hoping he would fill that void. They drafted James Jones because of his ability to catch the ball in a crowd perhaps to help them in the red zone. So at the receiver position you have Carlyle Holiday, Greg Jennings, David Clowney, James Jones, and Ruvell Martin and let's not forget Koren Robinson when he's cleared to play to provide all the scoring along with Donald Driver.
We all hope that Bubba Franks will return to the form that that sent him to the Pro Bowl but will he, or will Mike McCarthy let him? Will Mike McCarthy let him get out in the pattern or will he be a glorified offensive lineman helping with protection?
Mike McCarthy just might have more questions then answers. If this team starts slow does he sit Brett Favre down so that Aaron Rodgers gets real playing time. Just like the young linemen, the best teacher is game experience. We all know that Brett Favre gives this team the best chance to win, but what if that isn't happening? What does Mike McCarthy do?
This is going to be an interesting season for so many reasons, and that's why I am going to watch to see JUST HOW MIKE'S GOING TO HANDLE IT!!!!!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at email@example.com.