Bye Week has finally arrived for the Green Bay Packers and, honestly, it could not have come at a more opportune time. It's a time for rest. It's a time for healing. And, thankfully, it's an opportunity to think positive thoughts in the aftermath of a convincing and desperately needed victory over the New Orleans Saints.
When fans ask me what Bye Week is like, I explain that it's a great chance for the players, if they're healthy, to get some rest away from football for a few days. Normally, the team has four days off so the guys have an opportunity to go home to where their parents live or wherever their main residence is. They can go back and get away from football a bit, relax and re-charge their batteries. It's been such a grind to this point with training camp, pre-season games and five regular season games. This is a much-needed break.
Believe me, there's a big difference between heading into the Bye after a loss as opposed to a big win like the Packers are doing. It's always better to finish off on a winning note. You can reflect on a victory and the things you did correctly, individually and as a team, instead of having to dwell on a big disappointment. Of course, you're always trying to build momentum, and there's a school of thought that suggests that Bye Week can disrupt the momentum you've built after a win. After all, the Packers discovered a way to win and that's something they need to keep doing.
But when you look at the team's overall situation with all of the injuries, I think the healing will be a very important benefit as we move into the next phase of this season. This is especially true at the running back position with the loss of Najeh Davenport for the rest of the year. The Packers need Ahman Green to come back strong and healthy in his starting role. I'm sure this extra week is going to help him greatly. The same is true for tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher who both played hurt last week. Even the guys who aren't in the starting lineup can use the time off to recuperate from various nicks and bruises.
When I look back on my own career, I remember that I never really went anywhere during Bye Week like most of my teammates did. They'd pack up and head out of town, but I remember always being pretty banged up and needing the extra time to get physical therapy. I had to go to the training room every day and use that time to heal up. It was a time for me as a quarterback to spend extra time in the offices and look at more film. It gives you an extra week to prepare for your next opponent and I used that time as for more study, just like the coaches did. That was my routine.
Even though Bye Week is a great opportunity to catch up on some of the mental aspects of the game, especially for some of the younger players, there's nothing mandatory that would keep rookies or others from getting a little R&R. Some guys might get in some extra film time but, in general, that's pretty rare.
But even if you're getting away from the game for awhile, I know the guys will still have their next opponent - the Minnesota Vikings - in the back of their minds. The Vikings have been one of the league's biggest surprises because of their poor start. They've had their share of injuries, and now controversy, too.
Losing starting center Matt Birk was a big blow to their offensive line. They might also be learning that losing Randy Moss is a bigger deal than they originally thought. It has certainly hurt quarterback Daunte Culpepper's ability to make big plays downfield. Culpepper just doesn't seem like the same quarterback and it has to do with a combination of things including losing Moss, the pass protection is not as strong and neither is Minnesota's running game. On top of that, Culpepper has been playing with an injured knee so they are a team that is vulnerable and under a lot of scrutiny. Head Coach Mike Tice is facing a lot of pressure. If the Packers can play with the same intensity as they did against New Orleans they have an excellent chance to pick up their second win.
In the meantime, the Bye Week is a time to relax, get healthy and enjoy the excellent mojo they earned by thrashing the Saints. The Packers have gone from doom and gloom to finally getting that first victory. They've got some confidence to build on for the next game and that can do wonders for any team. Now the guys can believe in themselves. They've seen the results from playing four quarters of error-free football and this should excite them. It should excite Ahman Green to see that the offensive line is playing a bit better and starting to jell.
All in all, they've got positive vibes to go along with an opportunity to relax and heal up. Hopefully, when they get back to the action, they'll take the current mindset and keep the momentum going.
In addition to his duties with Packers.com, Don "Majik" Majkowski provides football analysis for WTSO - ESPN 1070 in Madison, WSSP SportsRadio 1250 in Milwaukee, WDUZ SportsRadio 107.5 & 1400 The Fan in Green Bay, WDEZ Great Country 101.9 in Wausau, and WIZD-FM 99.9 in Stevens Point. Majkowski was inducted into the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame earlier this year. His career for the Packers spanned six seasons (1987-92), including being named to the Pro Bowl in 1989 when he led the NFL in passing yards. For more on Majik, visit his Web site, www.majiknetwork.net, for more information.