As 16-0 looms, Packers keep eyes on Super BowlGREEN BAY, Wis. — For Mike McCarthy, it’s still too early.
By: Chris Jenkins, The Associated Press
GREEN BAY, Wis. — For Mike McCarthy, it’s still too early.
The Green Bay Packers coach has spent the past few weeks swatting away any talk about the possibility of a perfect season. Green Bay is 12-0 and less than a month away from running the table in the regular season, but McCarthy doesn’t want to hear about it.
Anything beyond what the Packers need to do to win Sunday’s game against Oakland at Lambeau Field is off limits, with one notable exception. It’s never too early for McCarthy to talk about the Super Bowl.
“I’m very impressed with what we’ve accomplished so far, but there’s so much more out there for us and frankly we just came off of a Super Bowl victory,” McCarthy said this week, after his team clinched the NFC North. “So we look at this as a step, we look at this as one of the mile markers on our journey to Indianapolis. We make no bones about it, winning the Super Bowl is what this business is all about. Winning your division, home-field advantage is the best path to get you there. It’s the preferred path. But like I said, there’s so much more in front of us to accomplish, and that’s why we continue to stay focused.”
In one sense, there’s no real secret why the Packers have been able to back up last year’s Super Bowl victory with a 12-0 start. The combination of Aaron Rodgers, the league’s deepest group of receivers, and McCarthy’s hyper-aggressive offense has simply been unstoppable at times.
But other teams have good players, coaches and schemes — and they don’t come anywhere near winning 18 games in a row, as Green Bay has done dating back to last year. There must be something else happening that other teams are missing.
Players says it’s a team-wide ability to balance that one big-picture goal, winning the Super Bowl, with the idea of never skipping the things they have to do to prepare each week.
Rodgers says that attitude and atmosphere is nurtured by simple, small details. Even keeping a consistent schedule makes a difference.
“I think it’s just the way we’re ingrained to stay focused on the week at hand,” Rodgers said. “Mike does a great job with our schedule, making sure we stay on a similar schedule with our bodies and how much time on the field and how much time in the meeting rooms, how much time he allows us to get away from the game and relax. When you’re on the same schedule and a creature of habit, it’s hard to look past that week.”
That’s not to say players are completely ignoring the possibility of 16-0. Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and a few others have openly embraced it. For the Packers, the larger point is that talk of going undefeated will never overshadow winning the Super Bowl.
“If you’re 14-2 or 15-1, at least from ourselves, we’re still going to expect to win the thing,” wide receiver Jordy Nelson said. “So it’ll be the same pressure to win the Super Bowl, so you might as well do it with a zero in the loss column.”