Sydney Speaks! The art of not losing

PackerReport.com's Harry Sydney offers his analysis of the Packers' offense, defense and special teams in the wake of their 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

All week before the game I had no idea of what I would see. I know what I was hoping to see, especially since Washington was probably the team that was playing the best at the time the Packers faced them. I was hoping to see a dominate performance by the Packers, leaving no doubt as to how good this team could be. Even though they have played the Eagles, Chargers and Bears none of them were playing at a high level when they met so this was the game for me, and the Redskins were the measuring stick. Please don't get me wrong, anytime you win in the NFL it is a good thing, especially going into a bye week. So let's look at what happened:

Offensively
What offense? I know that there was a makeshift offensive line with Scott Wells hurt and Tony Moll and Jason Spitz filling in, but I at least thought that some form of running game just might emerge. Now that I think about it, I don't know why I thought that. Let's just say I was guilty of wishful thinking.

As it looks now, it's a two-man show with DeShawn Wynn and Vernand Morency. The problem with that is you can't count on either one of them. They both act like they can't handle the punishment of being a running back in the NFL. Not only that, but I think Mike McCarthy should look at their running styles. In wet conditions DeShawn runs over his shoulder pads and seems to have better balance, so he might be the guy in bad weather. But then again does it really matter because every time they run it's a wasted down. Normally I would say leave the ball in Brett's hands, but in this game all he did was try to give it to the Redskins secondary, especially Sean Taylor. Then again the reason defensive backs play that side of the ball is because most of them can't catch.

Taylor had a chance for a least five interceptions, but turned them down. He couldn't catch a cold and that gave the Packers a bunch of opportunities that eventually allowed them to win or, even better, not lose.

Offensively, the Packers did nothing. Brett's numbers were horrible - 19-37 for 188 yards with a third of those numbers coming in the first quarter on the long catch and run by Donald Lee. That play was nicely designed by Mike McCarthy as Lee lined up at full back and went right up the seam, which is the soft spot of the Cover 2 defense. But after it worked we didn't see it anymore. Besides that completion to Lee, Brett was holding onto the ball too long as he was trying to get the ball to the receiver on the sideline between the corner and safeties, which wasn't working.

As a matter of fact I don't think there was anything that worked offensively. Not even the screen worked on the goal line after A. J. Hawk recovered the fumble, setting up which should have been a certain score, with the Packers getting the ball first and goal at the 9 yard line.

Also, I know that the officials could call holding on any play and many people questioned whether Chad Clifton or Mark Tauscher held, but they did because the official threw the flag - end of discussion. In my opinion, they did, especially Mark Tauscher, but then again he was protecting Brett and saved him from taking a serious shot. I really wish I could tell you how good the offense played against the Redskins, but it didn't.

The Packers walked away winning the game, didn't they? And in football it's all about the scoreboard. Nothing else really matters, RIGHT?

Defensively
The offense needed the defense, and it showed up, especially second half. Notice I said the second half because the first half I thought it was the Chris Cooley highlight tape. He seemed unstoppable. He ran circles around Brady Poppinga, and Atari Bigby had trouble with the coverage. Even though Cooley had almost 100 yards the first half on 7catches he only had two catches the second half and I will credit Bob Sanders for making the adjustments.

I still wish the Packers would blitz more with the linebackers, but that seems to keep falling on deaf ears because I think this defense is better when it plays aggressively and gets after the quarterback. Aaron Kampman needs help on early downs because he is playing his butt off and can't do it all by himself. Kampman played one heck of a game. He showed more strength than I have seen from him in a while as he consistently bull-rushed the right tackle, knocking him into the quarterback. He wasn't the only guy that played well on defense. Nick Barnett, A. J. Hawk along with Charles Woodson had very good games.

What a big play that was when Corey Williams caused the fumble that Charles Woodson picked up and took to the house for seven points. I still don't understand why Al Harris didn't take a shot at Jason Campbell on his touchdown run because I thought he had an opportunity to stop him, but turned it down. Thank goodness that the defense turned up its level of play or this could have been a long bye week.

Special teams
The kickoff return unit gave up a big return to Rock Cartwright and rookie Mason Crosby had a case of the hooks, missing two field goals wide left. The clock management came into question when they didn't let the clock run down on a punt late in the game, which wasn't too smart. I don't care who takes the blame that can't happen anymore.

The only reason the Packers won the game was because the Redskins couldn't catch the ball, either on defense or on offense. They probably dropped 10 balls when you combine the balls the receivers and safeties had an opportunity to catch.

The Packers are 5-1 and that's great. You can call me picky, but it would be nice to see them really just go out and win a game instead of perfecting THE ART OF NOT LOSING because there is a difference!!!!!!!

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


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