Green Bay's defense has to make the Eagles earn everything. They have to swarm and gang tackle and play physical, but at the same time play very smart. Someone on the defense has to emerge as the leader, which I hope, happens this game.
On the individual side you know Andy Reid is going to attack Atari Bigby by matching him up on a tight end to see what he's made of. Also, the key to the game will be how much pressure Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins can put on Donovan McNabb. And when they put pressure on him they have to do it in a smart fashion. They can't just rush up the field without staying in their rush lanes because if you remember years ago Donovan killed this team with his feet. The Packers can't let that happen this year and expect to win.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has to make Donovan beat them if he's going to with his arm, which I don't think he can. That brings us to the linebackers, whomever is supposed to spy on him and protect the middle against his scrambling must be very disciplined and be OK with just doing their jobs. I believe with Kampman, Jenkins, Pickett and whoever the other defensive tackle is can stuff the run allowing for the linebackers - Hawk, Barnett and Poppinga - to run from side to side making the plays and stopping Westbrook from getting into the secondary where he becomes very dangerous.
I have no doubt that the secondary, especially Al Harris, Charles Woodson, Nick Collins will get the job done. I even think Atari will do well, especially after the butterflies subside and he realizes he just has to play and not out think himself or over complicate things like first-time starters do. They often times see ghosts, so as I see it, if this defense can play like they did in preseason, or even better, and not give up the big play, they have a chance to lead this team to victory. Now understand it's not going to be easy because, unfortunately, they are going to have to carry a big load especially if the offense doesn't help them out.
Like it has for years, this offense will center around Brett Favre, but unfortunately Brett is probably in a place he has never been in before. In the past he knew how his teammates were going to perform he knew that he could count on his backfield mates to handle their responsiblies, such as pass protection. He could count on Ahman Green or William Henderson, even Noah Herron. They did a good job picking up the blitz but now he's in unchartered territory. Favre has no clue what Brandon Jackson or Vernand Morency are going to do when it comes to blitz pick-up. He has to trust them, but can he?
In his press conference on Wednesday, Favre said he has to trust his receivers, but will he? Especially knowing that Jimmy Johnson, the coordinator of Philly, is going to send everything at him. Not only does he have to trust that blitz's will be picked up by the backs, but that he and the receivers will be on the same page when it comes to sight adjustments on hot throws. If they aren't, it could lead to a long day for the Green Bay Packers, especially if they can't run the ball which up to this point in the season we have no proof that they can.
Speaking of running the ball, it's time for that zone-blocking scheme to earn it's keep and open up some running lanes for whomever is going to carry the ball for the Packers. If the guys up front Tauscher, Clifton, Spitz, Colledge and Wells can give the back some room to run, even the backs for the Packers might be able to move the chains because if they don't Brett Favre will be a sitting duck.
Hopefully the special teams can make something happen by making a big play, either by getting a turnover or having a big return on the kickoff or a punt return. It's time for the special teams to help this team, not hurt it. The defense can't win the game by itself, it needs help. The question is: Where are the Packers going to get help if this team plans on winning, especially against the team that seems to HAVE THEIR NUMBER!!!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.