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Packers' Motivation: Win NFC North

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Packers' Motivation: Win NFC North

With recent news that has Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher saying publicly that he thinks Chicago is the best team in the NFC, the timing is appropriate to examine the Packers' motivation for the upcoming 2011 season.

“I think we’re the best team in our conference,” Urlacher is quoted as saying in the Albuquerque Journal. “I know we’re not the Super Bowl champs like the Green Bay Packers. … We want to be the best in our conference and to be there, we’ve got to go through Green Bay.”

Whether this particular comment becomes bulletin board material for the Packers may be irrelevant. According to at least one player, there's already one objective every team member can rally behind, and it didn't take a newspaper clipping for inspiration.

According to fullback John Kuhn in a recent interview conducted by Tony Wilson for the upcoming Maple Street Press 2011 Packers Annual, the Packers have a shared goal of winning the NFC North.

“I think the team goal is to win the NFC North,” Kuhn said. “Even though we won the Super Bowl last year, we did not win the NFC North. I think that’s eating at a lot of guys right now, so our first goal will be to win the NFC North, but once we do that, we can talk about bigger and better things.”

The Bears are public enemy number one. They're the reigning NFC North champions and defeated the Packers in a nationally televised game on Monday Night Football Week 3 last season, a penalty-filled affair.

Then there's the Detroit Lions who not only beat the Packers Week 14 last year, they ended their own season on a four-game winning streak and are a team on the rise. Plus, behind the selection of defensive lineman Nick Fairley, the Lions are being hailed as having one of the best drafts of any team in the NFL.

And the Minnesota Vikings can't be discounted with talents like Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Jared Allen appearing on their roster.

So if anyone was scared that the Packers would become content with a Super Bowl title already under their (championship) belts, just know that further incentive exists, and players are already talking about revenge for not winning the division when it's not even August yet.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Brian Higgins's picture

I'd think there would also be extra motivation for the players returning from injury; Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, Morgan Burnett and others that have never played in a Super Bowl. The team won a Super Bowl without them, so those players need to demonstrate their value to the team as well. Extra motivation can't hurt.

joe's picture

Good point Brian. If i am not mistaken I think #12 is 4-2 past 3 season in the division.

nick's picture

I could not agree more Brian, the packers need to focus on one thing at a time. Winning the division is the priority then worry about the playoffs.

Chad Toporski's picture

I think it's great that the team has something like this to focus on. Having a concrete objective in sight makes for greater motivation. Since they already won the Super Bowl, I don't know if that particular goal would drive them as much as it did last year.

Nerdmann's picture

The Packers start out great in their first 3 games every year. Then they suddenly lose games in the ugliest conceivable ways until they are absolutely verging on playoff elimination. Then they pull their shit together and just barely squeak into the playoffs. This is MM's formula for "peaking at the right time." It kind of pisses me off.
How about just going out there and being consistent?

PackersRS's picture

I've circulated this theory before, and maybe it's just loony talk, but here it goes:

MM stabilishes some tendencies in the regular season just to break the norm and surprise the teams in the offseason. Even in the expense of it being the best play.

Like running Kuhn on 3rd and short most of the time.

Even if the other teams knows it, he's still gonna do it, to set the tendency.

So, if the players win the one-on-one battles, the better. If not, so be it.

During the regular season, the Packers don't play 100%, because they sometimes don't get the help of their coach. It's almost like MM doesn't specifically gameplan for a game, instead he takes a broader approach.

It's more important to play well our scheme and stabilish some tendencies than to win every single game.

But come playoff time, he goes all out, being very specific with each and every call, adjusting perfectly to the opponent.

Lemme put another example. If we play the Lions during the regular season, MM will still call some power plays and line up Rodgers under center with a 2 TE set, even though it plays to the Lions' strenghts. The team still has to be prepared to use those formations if they play a team that is weak to that.

But, if it is a crucial game, or it's a playoff game, MM is gonna go shotgun spread most of the time, because it'll put his team in the best position to win against the Lions.

jason's picture

I'm sorry for being mean but that is one of the most idiotic theories I've ever heard. McCarthy calls the plays that will help him win the game. I doubt he is thinking about what his Divisional opponent in the playoffs will expect, while he is calling a 3rd and short against the Lions in Week 6. Nobody has that kind of foresight. You'd have to be ridiculously arrogant to just assume you'll automatically make it into the playoffs, so hey, why don't we call some stupid plays here to throw teams off in the postseason. The Packers barely made the playoffs the last two years and missed it 3 seasons ago. To say "During the regular season, the Packers don’t play 100%" is really really dumb. The Packers are trying to win each and every game they play in, with the full support of Coach McCarthy. I can see what you mean to some extent when they use unusual formations (Big 5, Raji in backfield) to get opposing DC's thinking. But to say that McCarthy sometimes sacrifices games as part of a wider NFL-domination plan is giving him wayyyy too much credit in my opinion. I would be very upset if McCarthy was doing this because it is ridiculously stupid. Luckily there is about a .001% chance this is what he does. Loony indeed.

FITZCORE1252's picture


PackersRS's picture

I'm not saying specifically for the Lions, antecipating that they will be in the postseason.

I'm just using the Lions as an example of a team that we didn't play to their strenghts.

I don't know, maybe I'm rationalizing something that isn't there, but if you look at MM's performance, playcalling-wise, during the regular season, and compare it with the postseason, it's like 2 different coaches.

He's unimaginative, predictable, and slow to make corrections during the regular season.

But comes the postseason, he's bold (onside kick against AZ), he's creative (running Rodgers from the Raji formation, playaction to Crabtree who had never caught a TD), he's not afraid to run with what's working (shotgun all the time against PIT, a lot of run formations out of the wishbone against PHI).

FITZCORE1252's picture

"MM stabilishes some tendencies in the regular season just to break the norm and surprise the teams in the offseason. Even in the expense of it being the best play." -
I agree with that. It's obvious Coach does random things at times just to get it on film. But I don't think there's ever been a play he relayed to #12 that he didn't think our offense could execute... that's just got to be an inherent trait in elite Offensive minded coaches... "If you run this play as it's drawn up, there's no way it won't work".

"It’s almost like MM doesn’t specifically gameplan for a game, instead he takes a broader approach."-
I can see your angle on that, but I just can't buy into it. Coach has a game specific plan each week... just has to (doesn't he?).

McCarthy thinks his Offense can win each play he calls and each game they play if they properly execute his Offense, no matter how he calls it. Guaranteed.

PackersRS's picture

No, I'm not saying he calls something that won't work. Even though he is predictable in the regular season, it doesn't mean he is sure that the opposition knows what's coming.

And it's still on the players to execute blocks for a Kuhn 1 yard dive.

"McCarthy thinks his Offense can win each play he calls and each game they play if they properly execute his Offense, no matter how he calls it. Guaranteed."

Yes, absolutely. Like I said, it's still on the players.

I'm talking about something like this:

- Preseason, it's everything very basic. It's one-on-ones.
- Regular season, it's the core playbook, with gameplanning for each team, but with only intensive gameplanning for each divisional opponent, as there is no time (maybe that's a better approach than "setting it up") to make a very in-depth approach to each opponent, as well as the team needs to focus on the broader approach.
- Then, comes playoff time, it's a gameplan very specific, to attack each weak spot on the opponent.

Nerdmann's picture

I think part of it is that the Oline doesn't ever show up until around week 10. That could be due to the zBS, which they don't want to practice against their own players. Hard to say.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Just repeat, and if you win the division along the way... bonus. Now I'd love to have both but, I'll take a "SB CHAMPS" hat over a "division champs" hat any day of the week and twice on Sunday.


JohnRehor's picture

Gotta hand it to the Bears: only a player as conflicted as Urlacher would say that although they lost to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, they are still the best team in the NFC.

Do us all a favor: shutup

Wiscokid's picture

Did anyone else enjoy the Packers winning the George Halas trophy in Chicago? I sure as hell did. If you are a Bear fan, that had to hurt.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Hell yes dude. I said it at the time, it was absolutely amazing.

Being the only thing in the way of our #1 rivals trip to the SB = fanfuckingtastic (and don't kid yourselves folks, they ARE and ALWAYS have been our biggest rival, queens a distant 2nd)...
keeping our #1 rivals out of the SB because they couldn't defend their turf = priceless...
all my bare fan buddies that wouldn't talk to me for weeks because they know their franchise doesn't compare to mine = that word doesn't exist.

I just wish we weren't such a classy organization. I was praying that we got the Halas on their 50 yard line as weeping bare fans exited that dump... locker room just isn't as humiliating to bare nation.


mark's picture

There better be football in the fall.

3 things...

1) It's about getting guys like Finley, Grant, Neal and Burnett back.

2) It's about seeing what we have in a new draft class, as Ted seems to always deliver. Sherrod, Cobb, Green are all very exciting when I look at the tape.

3) But I think what people talk about the least (and what might deliver the most impact) It's about watching this HUGE cache of guys like Matthews, Raji, Rodgers, Starks, Williams, Shields, Bishop, Wilson and Nelson reach their full potential. This packer team is so freaking young!! Good as these guys have played, they will play better.

Yes, one game at a time, and yes, it's smart to focus on the division. But man oh man, the sky is the limit for this Packer team.

There better be football in the fall.

FITZCORE1252's picture


And don't sweat it, as I've stated before... my sources tell me a deal is imminent.

uesbc's picture

For as great as Rodgers has been, he's never won a division title. Take that with a grain of salt because he's only started for 3 years.

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