Sydney Speaks! Now what?'s Harry Sydney offers his overall assessment of the Green Bay Packers' coaching, offense and defense, and ponders what changes need to be made this off-season.

It's been almost a week now and the pain of what happened against the Giants should be starting to subside just a little, I think. Everyone should start to reflect back on the whole season and not just on the disappointment that happened the last time the Packers took the field. We should now think about just how far this team has really come in a short time and, trust me, they have come a very long way. Do they still have some distance to go? Yes, they do, but they have more of the pieces in place than they have in a long time. Let's take a good look at the pieces.

The Packers have one of the brightest young coaches in the game. For the most part, Mike McCarthy did a very good job with getting the players to play his style of football. They played smart, for the most part, on both sides of the ball. But his biggest claim to fame just might have been his ability to control the gunslinger for most of the year.

McCarthy also was smart enough to adjust at different parts of the season. He seemed to understand his personnel very well. I say that because of how he handled James Jones and Ryan Grant differently, but got the best results from both of them. They both fumbled twice in a game. One he yanked and the other he patted on the back and said, basically, "I trust you."

I thought he did a good job in handling injuries, as well as knowing how to practice and he didn't try to kill his guys. They were fresh when they needed to be. I thought the staffs again, for the most part, were always on the same page, especially on defense. I don't know how much of an impact was made by moving Winston Moss, but I don't remember many blown assignments between the corners and safeties, which is a very good thing.

The defense seemed to be hit with more injuries but all the parts seemed to be very interchangeable which means this team had more quality depth. Some would say that's Ted Thompson's doing, and I would agree with that to a point, but then the coaches had to get them ready to play, and they did. Not only that, but we never saw anyone moan or b#$#T about playing time. Everyone seemed to accept their roles, which is one of the best things that Mike McCarthy has done since he became coach. Besides that, he is never satisfied. He understands that he and his team can always get better. I think that the Packers are in excellent hands for a long time. Even though he made his share of mistakes this year as a coach, I wouldn't trade him for anyone else. I think he has earned his new contract, DON'T YOU?

Again, the question of will Brett Favre retire was the first thing on everyone's lips. Everyone wants to know if Favre's last throw at Lambeau Field will be an interception. In my opinion, stop wasting your time. Over the years Brett has come back when he was surrounded with less talent and now he is surrounded with nothing but playmakers. He would be a fool not to play this hand out.

I expect Favre to announce very soon that he will be back so that this saga won't be another drawn out soap opera, like it has been for the last several years. But the best thing about the situation is that Aaron Rodgers, if he can stay healthy, can step right in because this team has been built around the defense anyway. This offense is supposed to be about moving the chains so either way they are in good hands, especially in the skilled positions.

The receiving position is in excellent shape. They might be the best in the league and Donald Driver, the old man, is playing like he never ages. Will they need some help at running back? Behind Ryan Grant all you have is guys. I think that this year Ted Thompson might need to look for some better guards, some guards that are nasty and play very physical because that is what is missing on the offensive line. Tauscher and Clifton, even though they have dealt with injuries, are still an excellent pair of bookends to anchor the offense. So as you can see the offense is in good shape!!!!

This is where some real decisions will be made because this should be the strength of the team for years to come, whether Brett stays or goes. We always hear about the youth of this team, but they have two aging corners and don't have a pass rush except for Aaron Kampman.

Corey Williams will demand money, but I don't think the Packers can afford to pay him because they have enough money tied into the defensive line, especially since they made a mistake with Cullen Jenkins.

This defense will need some help, but they have some young safeties in Bigby and Rouse that will hold down the fort for a long time and the young linebackers can play with anyone. I know that Poppinga is a liability, but until he can be replaced he is the guy.

Now that the season is over, NOW WHAT?

Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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