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Bye Week Comes At Just The Right Time


Although the Green Bay Packers are riding high on a three-game winning streak and have evened their record at 4-4 after Sunday's win at Washington, the one common sentiment throughout Packers camp Monday that their annual bye week had come just at the right moment.

No one wanted to hear about the idea that their momentum that had gained over the past three weeks would stop. The one thing that was on everyone's mind in the Lambeau Field locker room was a few days of rest to get ready for the second half of the season.

After two days of practice coming up Tuesday and Wednesday, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman has given his players four days off at the end of the week to get away from football for a little while and prepare to make a strong run during the home stretch.

Sherman said he thinks his players will benefit more from the rest than the momentum that they may have built up.

"I know that's always an issue that you worry about momentum, but momentum's not a whole lot of help when you're as banged up as we are," said Sherman. "I'd rather be healthy.

"We played this past ballgame with a lot of guys hurting and banged up, so we really need to get them back. Having the bye helps guys push through that and so, I would trade the bye for momentum at this point because of the necessity of healing guys up from injuries and we have a fair amount of those guys."

Fullback Nick Luchey agreed.

"I definitely think we needed this bye week to get a chance to rest," Luchey said. "We're at the point where guys are feeling a little fatigue. It's getting to a point where sleep's not enough for you. You eat right, go to sleep, but you're still a little fatigued and that's just because the body isn't made to do this. It's definitely a well-needed rest for us."

Guard Mike Wahle said that the bye week will be a good chance for him and his teammates to get back close to 100%, both physically and mentally, especially after the way their season began.

"It's been a long battle back just to get back to .500," said the offensive lineman. "We still have a lot of work to do, but this bye week couldn't have come at a better time for us. We've got some guys banged up who need to get healthy, and we just kind of need to recharge our batteries a little bit - just get away from here for a couple days and relax, not think about football too much and get ready for the second half of the season."

For Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, he's happy that the bye week has fallen in week seven or eight, just as it has for the Packers in all five years of his career.

"I think it's perfect to have it in the middle of the season," KGB said. "I wouldn't want to have it too early and I wouldn't want to have it too late. It's like halftime for us. This is perfect."

Luchey said that the team has made a long stride from where they were sitting three weeks ago following their shocking home loss to the Tennessee Titans.

"This team made a goal, and we said we wanted to be 4-4 after we were 1-4 after we got embarrassed by Tennessee," he explained. "We said we didn't want to feel like that again. These guys collectively came together and goal was just to say, 'Hey, we want to get to 4-4.'

"We've completed that goal and when we get back after the bye week, we'll have a new goal for the second half of the season. We wanted to be better than 4-4, obviously, when the season started, but once we got to 1-4, the best we could get to was 4-4, so we've done that. We had some breaks go against us early and we fought through them, now anything can happen."

While the players will enjoy a few days off, Sherman and his staff will still be hard at work making sure this Packers team will be ready to pick up right where they left off when they meet the Minnesota Vikings in two Sundays.

"From a schematic standpoint, we spend quite a bit of the time with the coaches - trying to look at what we're doing well, what we're not doing well and what we need to fix," the head coach said. "What we need to emphasize in the second half, we spend a lot of time on self-scout and evaluation and looking for new things to implement into our package at this point.

"We don't necessarily teach it all this week, or even much of it, but when they come back on Monday, we institute some new ideas that we may want to use in the second half of the season in that Monday practice when they come back."

Hopefully the work put in by the coaching staff will have much the same effect as it did in 2003, when the Packers went into their off weekend at 3-4 before going on a 7-2 run to the NFC North Division title.

"A lot of the work that we did last year during the bye - which I thought was very profitable - was upstairs with the coaches in the meeting rooms trying to figure things out for the second half."

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