The national media never wanted to give the Packers RESPECT. Whether we like it or not they saw the flaws that would prevent this team from being as good as it could be. Trust me, there weren't many, but when you measure this team's defense to the Giants - though I thought the gap had closed during the season and the defense improved – Green Bay's Achilles heel showed its ugly head again.
But before I write any more, congratulations to Mike McCarthy on finalizing his new deal. It is well deserved. What Mike has done in such a short time is amazing. When he got the job many said, ‘WHO?' For that matter, I coached with him, knew him, and respected him, but was uncertain as to whether he was ready to walk in the shoes of the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, but he was and is. He came in and had a plan, put it together and the results are being in the NFC Championship Game in his second year - not bad!!!
Sure, he has made some mistakes but then ask yourself did you ever expect the Packers to be where they are so soon? Mike McCarthy has taken the talent that Ted Thompson has assembled and got them to play together. My question is how much further can the Packers go with this talent they presently have, so let me explain:
How much better can the current players get? For example, how much better can Al Harris and Charles Woodson play? What about Nick Barnett? Can he have a better year at middle linebacker than he had last year? Or what about Brett? What can anyone expect next year? The point is that Mike McCarthy got the best out of his players and guys like Donald Driver, Aaron Kampman and even Brett Favre gave everything they had.
Sure, there is plenty of growing room in guys like Atari Bigby, Aaron Rouse, A.J. Hawk, or Greg Jennings, James Jones, but their growth won't be as much physical as mental. They will continue to understand the game better as part of the maturing process. Mike McCarthy will get everything out of his players, but I don't think it will be enough because every team gets better or worse. No one stays the same and next year the Packers won't sneak up on anyone, so now it is Ted Thompson time.
I think this is a crucial year for the Packers even though they are ahead of the schedule because now that they have arrived, they can't go back and that's going to take better personnel. Whatever philosophy Ted wants to use it must include getting players who can contribute next year because there are enough projects.
This team is only a few players away from being able to compete and win against the big boys when it matters. Beating teams during the regular season means really nothing. Ask the New England Patriots. They went 18-1 and in everyone's eyes they are losers.
Ted might have to change his view of free agency because the help this team needs might cost some money. I hope he is willing to do what it takes for this team to win it all. Second isn't good enough anymore. This team has been smart and has money under the cap to finally be a big player in free agency, so hopefully he won't sit on his hands this year. Sometimes in free agency you don't have money and the players aren't there and vice versa, but this year is special. This team needs defensive linemen that bring it like the Giants did in the Super Bowl and they are available.
Kansas City's Jared Allen is an unrestricted free agent and is number one on the list as a pass rusher. He would fit perfect on the other side away from Aaron Kampman just as Albert Haynesworth would look good next to Ryan Pickett. Get these guys and this defense automatically becomes just that much better, which I believe has been Ted Thompson's vision all along.
Based on his recent drafts, Thompson has wanted to build this team around a solid defense, so he can't stop now. Mike McCarthy is going in the right direction. If I were him, I would drop a note to Ted Thompson, especially while at the Pro Bowl. The note would read: ‘Ted while I'm here coaching the best, I'm also recruiting.' Mike is doing what he does best now, so IT'S TED'S TURN!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at email@example.com.