The Packers made a major leap from an eight-point loss to a 13-point win in just four days. As they prepare for their first road game of the season, Mike McCarthy’s team still has some gaps to close.
“I’m excited about where this team has a chance to go. We made a significant jump in four days from game one to game two. That’s something we need to hold onto and learn from,” McCarthy told reporters, as the Packers kicked off preparation for next Monday night’s game in Seattle.
On the plus side is the emergence of a group of young players that have made the Packers faster and deeper on defense.
“Our young players are contributing. The depth on defense was reflected this morning in our staff meeting. Who’s competing to be (game-day) actives? This is about as challenging as it’s been because everybody on that board is competing to be part of that 46. That’s where you want to be as a football team,” McCarthy said.
On the down side is an offense that has yet to hit its stride, relative to its record-setting performance in 2011.
“We’re not far off on offense. We’ll play better on offense. I’m confident with that,” McCarthy said.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to be concerned after two weeks. Handling the football is definitely a concern this week. We haven’t caught the ball as well as we need to. We had the ball on the ground. It always goes back to the fundamentals.”
It’s on defense that the Packers’ gains have been greatest. A defense that was last in the league in total yards last season is No. 5 through two games this year. A defense that was last in the league in sacks per pass play last season is No. 1 in that category this year. The Packers are also No. 2 in pass defense.
“We talk about winning and growing. The fact that our young players are playing in Week 2 gives us a chance to do that,” McCarthy said.
Challenging that young group of players this week will be a rookie quarterback, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, who rallied from a weak performance in his NFL debut to lead Seattle to a stunning victory over visiting Dallas this past Sunday. Wilson has thrown for 304 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and an 81.1 passer rating through two weeks of the season.
“I thought they did a very good job of staying balanced. They ran the ball extremely well in two tight ends and two backs. It’s important to keep a young quarterback in favorable down and distance, and I thought he did a very good job managing the game. He played with favorable sticks most of the day. He made plays with his feet. He can make all of the throws. For him to be starting right away speaks volumes, especially because we have such great appreciation and respect for Matt Flynn. They have two good young quarterbacks there,” McCarthy said.
“I had a chance to watch them on TV. I thought they played with a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. You can pick up the pace of their game on TV. It’s a loud stadium. That’ll be a challenge. We’ll start with some crowd noise today.”
Whereas the Packers only had four days to rest for their Week-2 game against the Bears, the Packers will have 10 full days to rest and prepare for the Seahawks.
McCarthy said wide receiver Greg Jennings, who missed the Bears game due to a groin injury, would practice in a “limited fashion” on Tuesday, and running back James Starks is going to practice this week following a long bout with turf toe.
“We feel fortunate that we’ve had some time to step away from it. We’re healthy. It looks like we’re going to be very healthy this week, and we feel like we’ve been able to get a jump on Seattle,” McCarthy said. Additional coverage - Sept. 18