Johnnie Gray: Post-game review

Packers Hall of Fame safety Johnnie Gray offers his thoughts on Green Bay's offense, defense and special teams in the wake of its upset victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

The Packers didn't play the perfect game, but for as big of a win as this one was, most coaches would simply say, ‘We executed more plays than they did.'

In the first week, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn't mobile enough to beat the Pack, and the second week quarterback Eli Manning wasn't 100 percent. The Giants also were without their number one running back, Brandon Jacobs. But there are no excuses this week on why the Pack beat another playoff contender to start the season undefeated and stand alone atop of the NFC North division. Just saying that gives me goose bumps.

Kudos to the coaching staff for not being intimidated of the mighty San Diego Chargers, for staying with the game plan, and not having any trick or gadget plays just for this week. Coach McCarthy trusted in his team to go out and execute the basic plays they have been using since training camp.

The slant route, which is designed to gain three to five yards, depending on the depth of the corner could easily go for six points when the corner misses a tackle or the safety misjudges his angle as we saw on Sunday. The Packers use the slant in place of a running play by spreading out the defense to get manageable yardage. Players not only gain confidence by winning, but their most confidence comes from knowing that the coaching staff believes in them and their abilities to get the job done. So don't give up on the run just yet because the season has just begun.

The same trust held true with the defense. It didn't come up with any elaborate schemes but played the Chargers head up. The Packers did what any other team would do and that was to not let the best football player on the team - running back LaDainian Tomlinson - beat the defense.

The safeties and corners did a much better job in run support than in the Giants game and it showed in the stats. Safety Atari Bigby had 10 tackles, cornerback Charles Woodson nine, and cornerback Al Harris followed with seven. Linebackers A. J. Hawk and Nick Barnett had a combined 17 tackles. It all starts up front with the defensive line, not allowing the offensive lineman to get at the linebackers feet and block downfield.

Let's not forget about special teams as both punter Jon Ryan and kicker Mason Crosby bounced back from sub-par performances a week earlier against the Giants with huge kicks to give the defense a fighting chance, and the Chargers a longer field to work with.

This was a huge win for the Packers, and this Sunday at the Vikings will be a tough and physical game. I know it's a tough place to get a win but barring injury, I'm picking the Pack.

Johnnie Gray

Former safety Johnnie Gray played for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at

Packer Report Top Stories