Sydney Speaks! Hitting their stride

PackerReport.com's Harry Sydney offers his thoughts on coaching, offense and defense in the wake of Green Bay's Thanksgiving Day victory over the Detroit Lions.

Every year as teams go into training camp they set a bunch of goals. Those goals could be the number of wins or winning the division and maybe getting into the playoffs if they are lucky. Then you have those other goals - when you dare to think about the possibility - of getting home field advantage, knowing that if you can do that it means that every opponent has to come through your house. This is what next week's game is all about as the Packers face the Dallas Cowboys, but I won't get ahead of myself. Let's look at what happened against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day. Also, I all of you had a great Thanksgiving Day and got to enjoy it with those you care about. Now to the game!!!

COACHING
Is there any question who the Coach of the Year is? I hope not because what Mike McCarthy has done in his short time as a head coach has been nothing short of amazing. If anyone wants they can talk about the Packers number of wins or they can talk about how Brett Favre is playing under his watch. But to me that's not what I believe separates him from the other coaches, because before Mike McCarthy showed up Brett was already ear marked for greatness and had a seat in the Hall of Fame.

Mike McCarthy's greatest job hasn't been getting Brett under control, but allowing all the other players to believe that they are just as important to the team's success as Brett. He has convinced every player that dresses on Sunday that they can make the play. He has injected a sense of calmness. When the Lions got up 6 points the team didn't panic because he didn't panic. He's true to himself and knows what he is and he makes no excuses for it, either. He knows he's just a football coach and a damn good one at that. These players believe in him and you can see it in the way they play. No one quits and there is such a since of accountability in every unit and in all phases of the team.

This teams appears to really be able to make adjustments on the fly and every player seems to not only understand their role, but Mike McCarthy has allowed these players to enjoy the game they love.

I have often said that players play and coaches coach, and hat's off to Ted Thompson for seeing something in Mike McCarthy that others didn't. Quite often you hear how players take on the characteristics of the coach and, trust me, it's a good thing because in Mike McCarthy you have a winner. You can see it in how the players have responded to him, and as I see it they are 10-1, so what else needs to be said?

OFFENSIVE PLAYERS
Everything starts with Brett Favre and why wouldn't it? He is playing absolutely the best football of his career. You talk about greatness at quarterback I've been very fortunate to play with the two best that have ever played the game - Joe Montana and Brett Favre - and, trust me, the gap has been closed.

As of this year I have seen Brett Favre transform himself from this gunslinging it's all on my shoulders quarterback to the mastermind of the offense. He now let's the game come to him, understanding that he is surrounded by weapons and lethal weapons at that. His receiving corp just might be the best in the league.

Of course, for Brett to be able to get the ball to the receivers, the guys up front have to do their job and give him time to throw and they have. Brett has only been sacked 14 times this year with no sacks against the Lions. Because the offensive line is giving Brett time to throw and opening running lanes for Ryan Grant, this offense is basically unstoppable.

Football is about making more plays than your opponent and on this side of the ball the play-makers are Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Koren Robinson, and let's not forget Ruvell Martin because all he does is catch touchdowns.

Also, it seems that the Packers have found a running back that is good enough to get the job done in Ryan Grant. I believe he is running with a bunch of confidence as we saw him make some nice cutback runs against the Lions. Offensively, I think the offense is only getting better!!!!!

DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
Can we say speed, speed and more speed? As much as we love talking about the play-makers on offense, the defense doesn't have to take a back seat to anyone. Let's talk about Aaron Kampman and how he has elevated his game to the point of almost being unstoppable, getting two more sacks against the Lions. Between Aaron Kampman, Kabeer and Corey Williams, if they just get a little help from Cullen Jenkins they would be almost unstoppable as their quest continues to destroy opposing quarterbacks.

The linebacking group is playing as good as it can, and don't worry about A.J. Hawk because he is playing very good football.

Hopefully Woodson won't be sidelined too long with the injury that he received returning a punt because he is the one guy they can't afford to lose on the defensive side of the ball. I know there is depth in the secondary, but he can't be replaced like Nick Collins was with Aaron Rouse, who has played outstanding, getting another interception.

Also, hat's off to Tramon Williams because he might have made the play of the game when he ran down Aveion Cason preventing a touchdown on the kickoff!!!

OVERALL
This was a good win over the Lions, but it was expected, wasn't it? I like the fact that they didn't panic when they got behind. They just regrouped and played their style of ball and simply took it to the Lions. Every time the Lions made a move, the Packers made a better one. Everyone wants to be playing their best football in November and December and, if you ask me, the Packers are HITTING THEIR STRIDE!!!!!

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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