I wanted to step back and really look at the Green Bay Packers, their strengths and weaknesses, objectively, not based on what I already know or think, so here goes.
In Mike McCarthy you have one of the brightest young minds in professional football. He has done better or just as good as some of the other greats that have walked the sidelines. Is he in the Vince Lombardi or Mike Holmgren category? Some would say, yes, except for the fact that he isn't wearing any Super Bowl jewelry is he? Unfortunately that is the measuring stick in professional football. Regardless of how good you are, if you aren't wearing that ring on your finger you haven't arrived.
Trust me, I like Mike and I believe he might be on the way, but until he establishes a real identity, this team won't smell the Super Bowl. This team needs to do that on offense because I don't know whether it is a running team like he says it wants to be, or is this a team that wants to put it up using four or five receivers?
When it comes to the defense, are they going to play aggressive or just what philosophy will Bob Sanders try to employ? Because of these questions with the coaching staff and their mind-sets, this team won't sniff anything close to the Super Bowl.
Everything starts with the play-caller. As much as I think Aaron Rodgers is ready to play, unfortunately, the fact is he hasn't. So I don't know how he's going to do because he has never done it at this level. Trust me, you can prepare all you want and be so ready but there is nothing like the real thing. Until I see how he handles it, I can't label him as the leader of the Pack. For that matter all I can label him is the penciled-in starter for the Green Bay Packers.
The running game shows promise because of Ryan Grant and only Ryan Grant. He came on last year, especially when the offensive line was playing musical chairs because of injuries or the struggles by other players. Now he and his agent think the time is right - even though the Packers don't have to even come to the table or return calls - to get a lengthy deal done. I know everything is about security and up-front money for the players so what they want makes sense, but what does it say about the rest of the running backs for the Packers give Grant a deal?
Is Grant Dorsey Levens or Ahman Green at this time in his career? They were the last to really separate themselves from the rest. The offensive line looks very strong, especially if it can find that guard that can make snot-bubbling blocks. The receivers were the best in the league and improved with the team's first-round draft pick, Jordy Nelson, who is taking Koren Robinson's place. Also at tight end, with the addition of Jermichael Finley to replace Franks, the future could be bright because he is very athletic and can do things that no other tight end on the roster can do.
I see some very good things from this unit because it has a bunch of players, guys that are play-makers but they have to be allowed to do that (cough, cough) under Bob Sanders.
At the corner position they have a couple of older guys in Charles Woodson and Al Harris who are still better than half the teams with young corners licking their lips, fighting for the opportunity. Then they have three safeties and any combination of the two is good enough to win. The linebacker position, which includes A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett, Brandon Chillar, Brady Poppinga, Abdul Hodge and Desmond Bishop, might be the best in the league hands down.
Unfortunately, with all good comes the bad and that's what happens when anyone wants to talk about the defensive line. Besides Aaron Kampman and a run-stopping Ryan Pickett, everyone else on the defensive line is a question mark. Cullen Jenkins got paid for nothing and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is what he is, unfortunately. Justin Harrell has been doing nothing but reminding us that he has trouble staying healthy.
As I look at the Green Bay Packers, I see a team not sure of who it is for different reasons. Offensively, the Packers are searching for a new identity and defensively they have to define one. At least that's what I see FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN.
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.