Teams that make it to the playoffs are the teams that usually deserve to be there most of the time. Unfortunately as coaches this sometimes is the hardest time to coach because you try to convince your players to play the way they have all year, but this is different. This is now sudden death time because if you lose it's over. You pack your bags and go home. That's the hard reality of the playoffs and here are some others:
Every player and coach must be on the same page. What I mean by that is that everyone must understand their role, or what is asked of them and just do it. And not just do it but do it the way they have all season. They don't have to be Superman because they have to realize Superman didn't get them to the record of 13-3. It was everyone just doing their jobs the best they can. That's what makes the great teams great - they understand these things.
As always it's around this time of the year when I start to feel the intensity of what's at stake. I start having flashbacks of those moments in my career when as a player or coach I stood and faced the same things these guys are facing. Fortunately, I have been where these guys are trying to go, and I hope they are willing to pay the price. If they are willing to do that, why couldn't it be them to win it all? I know even as I say that I realize it will be an uphill climb, but I think they have to go through Dallas which might just be too much of a task for them. If that happens I think that it would be unfortunate because then they would be staring face-to-face with the beast of the east the New England Patriots, a team on a mission. But like the movie "Any Given Sunday" that's why they play the game.
The Packers' biggest edge over their opponents is their ability to play the game because this team is full of playmakers. All year long I have talked about the Packers' ability to make plays and make them in all phases, and that is because this team is loaded with athletes, and not just athletes, but quality athletes in the skilled areas. The thing about play-makers is that the good ones know when it's time to seize the moment and great ones seize the moment. This team's success in the playoff run will be determined largely on who's going to turn their dreams into reality.
Many of the Packer players, as little kids, have dreamed about these moments and some, like Brett Favre, have a Super Bowl ring t put on his finger. Trust me, there is nothing like it because football is different, and there is nothing like it. The thing about the Super Bowl is that it's a one night game and winner takes all. It's not baseball, basketball, soccer or hockey where they play the best out of seven where they can lose three times and still figure it out.
That's what I hope the Packer players understand. I hope that they realize just what's ahead and that if they are willing to stand up and just let their ability be triggered by their knowledge. If they just play the game like it's their last they can stand toe-to-toe with everyone and that's all any fan or coach can ask. This is that time when you can't run or hide. This is that time when you can't trick anyone where everyone one knows every tendency and when coaches simply put in a game play and tell the players it's now up to them.
I guess that's why I love this part of the football season so much because I like to see the cream rise to the top. I like to see who shows up and who are the contenders but it also exposes the pretenders as well. That's why I am so excited to see what the Packers do in the playoffs because I never thought they would be where they are so soon under McCarthy. I believed it would happen, but like I said just not this soon. So now that he has my attention, my question is simply OK, NOW WHAT?
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at email@example.com.