Sydney Speaks! Questions left unanswered

Harry Sydney provides an analysis of the Packers' coaching and players as they head into the regular season opener.

Going into the preseason, I needed to see certain things before I could set realistic expectations on this team, and I'm not sure if I know much more now than I did before it all started.

I know I could probably talk about a meaningless preseason game, but why? It meant nothing except it will be the last time some players get to live out their lifelong dreams of trying to be professional football players before they get cut!!!!

Every year around this time, I can't help but remember what it felt like to get cut and have a coach or scout tell you that you just weren't good enough. Oftentimes, I hear radio shows or read the paper and see how those that write about sports or talk about it talk about those that are on the bubble or that get cut like they were nothing and joke about it as if they don't have families or people depending on them. That's the ugly side of football, so around this time, I remember what it was like when I got cut not only once but twice. I feel for so many of the players. With that said, it's time to talk about what I have not seen this preseason:

Coaching: Who is Mike McCarthy and what is his philosophy? Does he want to run the ball or pass it another 600 times this year? Then again, is he smart enough to realize this offensive line might struggle all year long because of all the musical chairs that is going on as they keep trying to find the starters?

The offensive line needs to get it together because if it doesn't, Aaron Rodgers is going to take some shots this year. Besides the offensive line, I don't understand why the Packers don't have another veteran quarterback on the roster. They are playing with fire with no security blanket. No, I'm not saying that Rodgers will get hurt, but if he does, how many games are the Packers willing to lose? I know that sounds harsh, but sometimes reality is harsh. Brohm and Flynn won't win a game if they have to quarterback this season because they aren't ready. That's why I believe Thompson and McCarthy are making a huge mistake not having a veteran getting ready just in case.

On the defensive side, I do like that coordinator Bob Sanders is trying to get more creative. I have seen it as he has used the two down linemen and four- or five-linebacker blitz package. The problem is, you can invent all kinds of schemes, but if they can't get home, there comes a time when you have to look at whether or not the athletes are good enough to execute it.

I look at the linebackers that blitz and the best one is A.J. Hawk. Even though he has been hurt, they didn't blitz him enough last year, so I don't see how this will be any better this year. Sanders might have to do a bunch of stuff because it only has one pass rusher in Aaron Kampman.

The good defenses have the ability to put pressure on the quarterback using only its defensive line because it can win the individual battles. If you don't, the center will be free to help whomever he wants. All eyes are on Kampman, and he needs help. The coaches have to come up with ways to make that happen, but that's what I have been looking for and haven't seen.

Players: Of course, everything starts with the quarterback, and Rodgers has shown he has a strong enough arm to make the deep throws and can move in the pocket. All the questions that could have been answered have been.

I also feel the receivers are the best group in the league. There have been few surprises, but I believe at running back the one surprise should or could be that Kregg Lumpkin should make the team, which means that either Noah Herron or Vernand Morency or both might be expendable.

Like most teams, everything comes down to those guys up front, and the only thing for certain is Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton can still play.

On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary is solid with the safeties playing better, especially Nick Collins. He seems to have taken the lead. At the corner position, we know Al Harris and Charles Woodson are the vets, but behind them they have youth with Tramon Williams, Pat Lee, Will Blackmon and, OK, Jarrett Bush. At linebacker, it might be interesting. Tracy White might be in trouble because of the numbers, depending on how many they keep. But you have to believe Brady Poppinga, Nick Barnett, Hawk, Desmond Bishop, Abdul Hodge and Brandon Chillar are their six linebackers.

Like on offense, the skilled players are solid but again it comes down to the trenches and, so far, the defensive line is more than suspect. We know about Kampman and Ryan Pickett, but ask yourself, is there someone else that will step up to make this team better on the defensive line?

So with all that said, there are MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS.

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

Packer Report Top Stories