Sydney Speaks! Searching for an identity

PackerReport.com's Harry Sydney offers his thoughts on the Packers' offense and defense, and what the coaching staff might be thinking as the Packers prepare for the final 10 games of the season, and possible playoff run.

This is a great start for the Green Bay Packers. They are 5-1 and everyone should be jumping for joy, or at least the fans should be. The Packers are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the best team in the NFC and, like I have said, nobody, and I mean nobody, expected it. Even Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy could have not imagined it. They will never say that out loud, but I'm sure behind closed doors they can't believe it. But now here comes the hard job and that's keeping it going after the bye is over, which I think they can especially because of who they will be facing. Let me explain:

Before the first game if you would have looked at the schedule and saw Denver and Kansas City right after the bye you would have said, or at least I would have said, those historically are two of the worst places to play. But all of a sudden they aren't, well, at least thus far in the season they haven't been the black holes of the past where no one went in and walked out with a win, but times seem to be different. The Packers now have to decide who they are on both sides of the ball, and the experiment has to be over because it's the stretch run.

Offensively they have to decide on many things, such as how are they going to us the running backs and decide on a real pattern that works such as who's going to be the main back and who will be the third down back. I think DeShawn Wynn should be the every down back and anytime there is a two back set or short yardage or goal line situation he is the guy he's running style is better suited for these types of situations especially if he can stay healthy. Then on third down situations or when they go to single back stuff, either decide on Brandon Jackson or Vernand Morency because they both bring something different to the table, but decide. Vernand is quicker but in bad weather he might not be the answer because of his running style. He seems to be always slipping because he cuts on the wrong foot whereas Brandon might not be as quick but he runs screens better and appears to have better hands.

Please understand this is if they for some reason decide to run the ball, but we know that late in November and December they will have to run it if only to eat up the clock but this isn't how they are going to win. If you look at why they are struggling of late I think it's been because they believe they can run the ball and they can't. Every time they do they take the ball out of Brett's hand. Hopefully Mike McCarthy will realize that his best way to win is to turn Brett loose and allow him to stay in a groove, like he was in the first four games. It seems that everything changed for the offense on the first drive against the Bears when they tried to trick the Bears by surprising them with the run. Sometimes the worst things coaches do is out-think themselves, and that might be what this offense is going through because lately it seems to be grasping at straws and has gone away from what it has been doing very well.

Hopefully during this bye week when Mike McCarthy looks at all the film from the last six games he will see certain things, offensively, such as how good the slants have been working. When Brett gets rid of the ball and moves the chains this offense works like a well-oiled machine.

Part of the bye week will be the sessions with the offensive coaches as they look at every play they ran and the reasons they were successful or flopped, and whether they were player errors, coaching errors, whether the other team just won the battles, or if the play just wasn't a good play. Offensively don't be surprised if they tighten up the ship and instead of having a quantity of plays go with quality plays and keep repeating the plays that work.

Also, they will have to decide what role Koren Robinson will have if he has one because with him they have another weapon that eventually they will be able to use. That's what the good teams do and I consider the Packers a good team trying to be great!!!!!

Defensively I expect the coaches to let the players simply play the game the best they can and to do that they have to put them in the best position possible, and I don't think that really has happened yet. This defense hasn't played its best game yet. It should be in the top five defenses in the league and it hasn't even scratched the surface of how good it can be. Some of that is because I think the defense has been held back because Bob Sanders, for some reason, hasn't turned the dogs loose by blitzing them.

This defense should have been allowed to get after Manning, Griese and Campbell. The players should have been seeing blitz in their sleep, especially the way that Al Harris and Charles Woodson have been all over opposing receivers. By blitzing opposing quarterbacks wouldn't have the time to find the tight ends that have been hurting the Packers and it would help Brady Poppinga, the weak link in coverage, do his job.

Speaking of jobs the only weak links on defense have been the play of Cullen Jenkins, Poppinga and Nick Collins. Besides them, everyone has played very good considering the role they are asked to play.

With all that said, this team is 5-1 and that means it is doing the most important thing, and that's finding a way to win as it keeps SEARCHING FOR AN IDENITY.

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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