Packers Notebook - Bye Provides Time For Analysis


In the best-case scenario, the Green Bay Packers would be riding high heading into this weekend's bye.

But after back to back losses, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said this week that there's no better time to take a step back and re-evaluate the Packers' 3-4 start.

"You obviously want to go into the bye week feeling better, with a win," Sherman said. "But at the same time, I think that (the players) need to get away from it for a little bit and come back fresh for the second half of the season.

"I've been very fortunate that our bye weeks have always fallen in the middle and not at the beginning or the end of the season. If there's anything from a scheduling standpoint that I do like, it's been that."

The Packers held practices and meetings Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, but players are off from Thursday until Monday.

Sherman said the goal of the practice week was to avoid injuries while preparing for upcoming games, including the team's November 2 contest at Minnesota.

But time off for the players doesn't mean the work stops for coaches.

"Now that these guys are gone we really can dig in as coaches again and really analyze where we are and what we have to do to improve," Sherman said. "Mainly look at ourselves. I worry more about ourselves than our opponents and getting ourselves right. If we can do that, we'll be fine."

One area the coaching staff will put under the microscope is the Packers' struggling pass rush.

Through seven games, the Packers have a total of 10 sacks, with only 4 of them coming from the defensive line.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who is coming off back-to-back double-digit sack seasons, has 3 sacks so far, and Sherman said he will analyze whether limiting the defensive end's reps could lead to increased productivity.

Based on the 2002 season, fatigue shouldn't be a problem for the fourth-year end.

Last season, KGB became a starter and 'every-down' player in Week 6. His sack frequency increased from that point on, as he led all Packers defensive linemen by taking 80 percent of the game reps.

"He never, ever gets tired," Sherman said. "If I said to him run around this (practice field) for three hours, he could do it and not even sweat. He's not a player that gets tired ... I talked to him about it, I talked to our defensive coaches about it, I considered giving him a rest, but he claims that was not a problem."

Nonetheless, Sherman will investigate every option to get Gbaja-Biamila and defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt to the quarterback.

"We have to work out some auxiliary moves for them," Sherman said. "It's more than just speed-rushing the quarterback. If you can't get there, you have to go to the secondary move. You can't just jet up the field, which is something we've done a little bit of.

"In defense of Kabeer, the last three weeks he's played against three Pro Bowl players that have been pretty dang effective against a lot of people. I have a lot of confidence in him as a player and as a person and that his sacks will start to come.

"I also believe that Cletidus Hunt will emerge eventually here. It has to happen pretty quickly. We can't wait around too long, but it has to happen. And I believe that we have to be able to implement some things in our scheme to be able to help us out as well."

Getting Stronger

Almost halfway through the 2003 season, offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher sure don't look like players coming off of devastating injuries.

But in Sherman's view, the duo only stands to get better.

"I actually think Mark Tauscher is improving, rather than digressing," Sherman said this week. "I don't believe he was 100 percent when we started the season, but I believe we're getting closer and closer to that mark as we go through the season.

"And I think Clifton's pretty close to where he was a year ago previous to his injury."

Clifton and Tauscher finished the 2002 season on injured reserve with pelvis/hip and knee injuries, respectively.

Coming Together

Certainly the Packers didn't intend on having a losing record at the bye week. But while the 3-4 start is frustrating, Sherman has found at least one silver lining.

"It's funny, if there's a positive thing with being 3-4, I believe that the leadership that I thought was lacking at times in the last couple years has expressed itself more so than it has in the past," Sherman said. "Those players have stepped forward and been a little more verbal in their (analysis) of where we are and where we need to go ... That has been encouraging."

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