It’s become the big topic of debate during the lockout and it unfortunately involves the entire Green Bay Packers squad.
No, they haven’t gone on a cruise “Love Boat” style like the Minnesota Vikings did a few years ago. Rather, it’s a question about the Packers ON the field.
Why haven’t the Packer players held an informal team workout yet?
It’s a fair inquiry to make. Most NFL teams have held some kind of group workouts involving a good chunk of the squad. Yet the world champions have yet to do so with training camp possibly about a month away (assuming the lockout ends relatively soon). This has not set well with many members of the media, including several former NFL players—namely former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
To them I say, relax. The Packers will be fine. Just because a majority of league has had team workouts does not put Green Bay at a significant competitive disadvantage.
Where is the proof of this? First, one has to look no further than the Packers squad that won Super Bowl XLV. The team enjoyed outstanding chemistry in the locker room which is remarkable given all the injuries the team suffered and having to bring in some players basically off the street.
These new players were welcomed into the fold by the veterans. Erik Walden comes to mind in this situation. Here is a guy that comes in literally off the street and in a matter of weeks has a monster game which helped propel the Packers into the postseason. On some other teams, Walden would have been forced to pay his dues and let the established stars make all the plays.
Not in Green Bay, where players take joy and pleasure in each other’s accomplishments. This Packers squad was a team in the truest sense of the word and with a vast majority of players coming back for 2011, there is no reason to believe that strong chemistry will not continue. Mike McCarthy and his staff will see to that.
Speaking of McCarthy, he’s another reason why the Packers don’t necessarily need to hold informal team workouts. When asked about workouts during the lockout, McCarthy continued to emphasize that he trusts his players and expects them to report to camp in shape whenever it begins.
Whereas some coaches may be jittery, McCarthy seems completely at ease. His trust in his players (which showed during the playoff run when he let guys lead the team prayer and give the pregame and postgame speeches) is so strong that it can’t help but rub off on the players. If a player knows his coach has his back and trusts him, he is much more likely to come back and work his butt off for that coach.
The final reason why the Packers may be fine without team workouts is their quarterback. When Bruschi made his statement about the Packers’ lack of group workouts, he mentioned that Rodgers should be calling the guys together and that it is his responsibility as a leader to be doing so. In essence, Bruschi was calling out Rodgers’ leadership ability.
Perhaps Tedy was drinking too many brewskis, but anyone remember what happened the last time some people called out Rodgers for not being good enough at this or that?
Yep, he stormed through the playoffs and led the Packers to a Super Bowl.
Some may have short term memory, but Rodgers is not one of them. He remembers every little dig people take at him and stores it away in his memory bank as extra motivation. It’s become clear he thrives on adversity and as a perfectionist is never satisfied with his game.
NFL defenses, take note. If you find yourself on the receiving end of an Aaron Rodgers beatdown, call Tedy Bruschi and thank him.
This is not to say the Packers aren’t rolling the dice a bit with the lack of workouts, however. There’s the matter of their rookies learning the playbook. With Derek Sherrod and Randall Cobb expected to contribute right away, the Packers will be behind the 8 ball so to speak. That said, none of the other rookies in the league have gotten their formal playbooks either but some are at least working out with their new teammates.
With the lockout possibly nearing an end, all the predictions and preseason hype can begin in earnest. It was definitely a different offseason, but after all the Packers went through on their way to Super Bowl XLV adversity and unusual circumstances should be nothing new to this bunch.
So the Packers may have to prove the prognosticators wrong on their way to another Super Bowl title. “Second verse, same as the first,” I say.
The NFL learned the hard way last year when they counted the Packers out. Now they doubt them again and the Packers are licking their chops.
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
If this saying holds true, Packer fans are in for yet another special season in 2011.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke