Johnnie Gray: Post-game review

Packers Hall of Fame safety Johnnie Gray offers his thoughts on the Packers after their 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Fantastic. The game may have been a bit sloppy at times but the bottom line will say that the Packers are 5-1 with a game and a half lead in the NFC North. Can it get any better than that?

Yes, the Packers are in a bye week to get ready for a run at the playoffs. The loss to the Bears had to take a toll on the team emotionally as it prepared for the Redskins. A loss like that could easily have a team thinking about what could have happened and find itself spiraling into a losing streak. Losses like that can divide a locker room (offense versus defense), questionable coaching judgment, or worse, cause fights. As the season wears on, teams that had higher expectations at the start of the season will go through some or all of these scenarios. The cure is to win.

Many players will get away for a few days this week to unwind and look back at what has been accomplished and work on a game plan for the rest of the year. It could be to get more rest, study more film or do a better job of planning when relatives and friends visit. Should the Pack continue to be successful, many, and I mean many, people will want to get a piece of the pie. Talk shows and the national media will be hustling to be the first ones to have the inside scoop on the Green Bay Packers' surprising start. Other players will use this time to rehab, rest and heal.

The coaching staff will not have this luxury, as it must find a way to get a consistent running game. The Redskins employed an eight-man pass defense in hopes of stopping the short and underneath passing game. Until the running game gets going the Packers will see a variety of pass defenses to clog the middle and force quarterback Brett Favre to go long down the boundary. Favre will then need to hook up on just a couple to force the defense to re-adjust.

Redskins safety Sean Taylor sat in the deep middle baiting Favre to throw the deep ball and then used his great closing speed to make a play. I'm curious to see how the Packers will utilize Koren Robinson, who was reinstated from a year-long suspension by the NFL today.

It doesn't appear that another running back is in the future, and to be honest, who is really out there? Coach McCarthy is confident that poor blocking fundamentals (pad level, sustaining the block, being decisive), and the timing of the running backs are to blame. Coaches will self-evaluate and come up with a better way of teaching what needs to be done. It wasn't until the second half of last season that the running game started to come around, so hopefully that happens sooner than later.

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

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