The coaches have to be honest with what they saw to determine what direction they must go after the bye. This brings me to my bye week observations and this is what I think they need to do to get where I think they want to go: The Packers are 5-1. With 10 games to go, there is no excuse to finish with less then 10 wins. It doesn't matter what any of us thought their record would be before the season started because they have surpassed that, so this is what I hope I see the rest of the season:
Offensively I expect Mike McCarthy to NOT, and let me say that again, to NOT get caught up trying to prove he wants to run the ball because they can't. It's that simple. The Packers can't play smash-mouth football and shove it down people's throats. They aren't that team.
I want Mike McCarthy to call an aggressive offensive game and make people have to out-score them. I know everyone, including myself, has wondered what's going to happen late in November or December when the weather gets bad, or when they get a lead and need to milk the clock but can't. Then I realized they could run if they do it differently by spreading the field with three- and four-receiver sets allowing for more running lanes and better blocking angles, especially if the defense is thinking pass trying to get up field to get to Brett.
So as you can see, one of the things that I hope Mike McCarthy did during the bye week was spend time looking at ways to utilize the run game in a more effective way instead of just trying to beat his head against the wall by looking at what they can do instead of what they can't.
On the other side of the ball I hope Bob Sanders took a look at his personnel and thought about whether he was putting them in position to play to their strengths. For example, Nick Barnett, even though he's good when he blitzes, is a better cover linebacker. Brady Poppinga and A.J. Hawk are liabilities in coverage, so wouldn't it make sense to put them in roles that allow them to be more successful and better the team at the same time. Hawk and Poppinga are best when it comes to getting after the quarterback. Besides that no running back can pick them up because, as we saw in training camp, they would over-power any running back, which would make teams change their blocking scheme.
Since I brought up blitzing this team is very fortunate to have two excellent man-to-man, in-your-face corners in Al Harris and Charles Woodson. I want this defense to play off of them and stop the run on the way to the quarterback, not allowing them to have time to throw. In other words get after the quarterbacks and don't give them time to take a breath. Stop being nice.
As a former coach I know that you always want more, but this team has a lot of weapons so use them turn the dogs loose. Now that I have said that let's look at what the players need to do.
It has to start with Brett Favre. He has to play under control like he did the first four games and not try and do too much. I was so impressed with how he was playing because he allowed the game to come to him and he let his receivers use their skills. It was as if he was conducting an orchestra by putting the ball in their hands as they led the league in yards after the catch, and he has to get back to playing just that way.
I know we can say the offensive line has to do a better job, but then again I believe the best thing they do is pass protection so let them do that. I guess that falls on coaching because Tauscher and Clifton still are one of the best tackle combinations in the league, especially when you play to their strengths.
This team is blessed with I believe quality receivers in Driver, Jennings, Jones and now throw Koren Robinson into the mix. Don't waste any time trying to figure out whether Wynn or Morency can stay healthy because they should be an afterthought. Just put them in their roles and make the best of it. Hopefully Bubba will be all right, but in the meantime Donald Lee has shown the ability to get open in the middle of the field. I hope they use him, especially since so many teams are taking advantage of their tight ends on linebackers match up.
Aaron Kampman started slow but has picked up his game and now so must Cullen Jenkins because he can't just show up every now and then, which has been the case. I think the defensive line is very solid, especially with the rotation they are able to use. Nobody should get tired.
Up to this point Nick Barnett has been playing very well and I think so has A.J. Hawk. Everyone is waiting for him to be some flashy guy and that's not him. He, in my opinion, is just a steady player who does his job and does it very well.
Brady Poppinga, just like Cullen Jenkins, has to pick his game up, otherwise, I could see some shuffling at this position. The secondary is playing very well, especially when it comes to Bigby, Harris and Woodson, but someone needs to light a fire under Collins because he is becoming like Poppinga - a liability. I say liability because this defense hasn't scratched the surface of how good it can be, and I'm getting impatient because I see what it could be, but it seems the powers at be haven't. Then again, during the bye this is WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE LEARNED!!!!!!!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.