Green Bay Packers more upbeat than same time last year : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers more upbeat than same time last year

November 2, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 2, 2010 ~ by Rob Demovsky

~A year ago, the Green Bay Packers were sitting at the .500 mark halfway through their regular-season schedule and were coming off one of the worst losses of coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure, falling at previously winless Tampa Bay.

The next day, Packers President Mark Murphy publicly expressed disappointment in the way the first half of the season went and put the onus on McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson to turn things around.

They’re only one game better at the midway point of this season, but after Sunday’s 9-0 road victory at the New York Jets and given the circumstances surrounding this season, there’s a different feeling around Lambeau Field.

McCarthy was unusually jovial in his Monday news conference and while Murphy declined to discuss the season, saying through a team spokesman that he preferred to leave that to the general manager, Thompson praised McCarthy and his staff for weathering a wave of injuries yet still keeping the team’s championship hopes alive.

“I think he’s (held the team together) the way he’s always done it,” Thompson said. “I think the coaching staff does a great job of being focused on what’s next, and they have a good eye for the big picture. But in the NFL, you’ve got to get ready for the next play. That’s what we do. That’s what they do a great job of, and I think that’s what the players do.”

At 5-3, the Packers have a half-game lead over Chicago (4-3) in the NFC North and are tied with New Orleans for the fourth-best record in the NFC behind Atlanta, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants (all tied at 5-2). Halfway through last season, the Packers were tied for the eighth-best record in the NFC.

“We appreciate the negative stories, so if you can keep that up, that’s always helpful,” McCarthy said with a smile. “It’s all part of our business. It’s important to stack successes. The hardest thing to handle in my opinion in the NFL is handling success, and by no means do I think winning two games is a success. But it’s definitely in the right direction, and that will be part of our language this week when we get together as a football team.”

Last season, McCarthy said he rallied the team to an 11-5 finish and a wild-card playoff berth by sticking to his principles and staying consistent with his approach. That had to be especially challenging this season after losing 10 players, including five starters, to season-ending injuries.

Thompson has had to shuffle the roster, while McCarthy and his assistants have had to spend more time teaching schemes to new players, something normally reserved for training camp. Last week alone, Thompson acquired four new players — two off waivers and two off the street. All but one played against the Jets. Defensive lineman Howard Green played nearly half the snaps, and linebacker Erik Walden played on some key third down snaps.

Between the final roster cuts on Sept. 4 and the eighth game, Thompson and his personnel staff have been busy. They have signed five street free agents, promoted two players from the practice squad, claimed two off waivers and made one trade. Through eight games last season, they had signed three free agents and promoted one from the practice squad.

“You’re always doing the work and preparing, and (scouts) Reggie (McKenzie) and Eliot (Wolf) and Tim (Terry) and those guys do a great job,” Thompson said, “They’re always comparing lists and scenarios and things like that. It’s rare that we have to go through so many different scenarios, but it’s part of the process.”

If the make-or-break point of last season came following the loss to the Buccaneers, perhaps this year it came after the consecutive overtime losses at Washington on Oct. 10 and home against Miami seven days later. Since then, the Packers have come up with masterful defensive performances to beat Minnesota with a stop on the Vikings’ final drive and shut out the Jets, who came into the game tied for the best record in the NFL. Almost no one in the state press or national media picked the Packers to win in New York.

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