Dare To Be Great: Mike McCarthy’s Challenge In 2011

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time

During his press conference after his Green Bay Packers–sans Aaron Rodgers–nearly upset the mighty New England Patriots in Foxboro, head coach Mike McCarthy uttered the phrase “we’re nobody’s underdog” to describe his team and that the Packers “came to win.”

McCarthy initially was mocked for the comments by many, but it turns out they served as a springboard for the Packers’ magical run to the Super Bowl XLV title. McCarthy and his staffed played the underdog card brilliantly and the Packers never looked back after that game.

So with the 2011 season upon us (I think), the Packers are about to embark on the defense of their throne.  They have gone from the hunters to the hunted which means the coaching staff has thrown the underdog card to the bottom of the deck.

This is McCarthy’s greatest challenge entering 2011.  The coach has spoken repeatedly about “handling success” as well as adversity.  We saw in 2010 how well his players respond to adversity, but how will they respond to having targets on their back?

Actually the Packers began last season as a chic pick for the Super Bowl, but as the season went on and injuries piled up, many people left the Packers for dead.   McCarthy played that into the “this is our time” theme throughout the postseason and into the Super Bowl.   It was a theme the players embraced and it showed as the Packers marched to Super Bowl XLV.

So what can McCarthy do for an encore?  Well, he really has to look no further than one of his predecessors.  While it is highly doubtful any team in the modern free-agency era will be able to duplicate the amount of championships in the same time span that Vince Lombardi’s Packers did, McCarthy could push his players to be the second Packers dynasty.

A way to approach that is that while winning one trophy is good, to be truly great you have to win two.  McCarthy could basically say to his players, “OK, you won one. You’re good. You want to be great? Go win another one.”  Winning two Super Bowls in a row is a tough feat to accomplish, but in order to truly be “great” you have to meet those kinds of challenges.

It was a promising sign that the day after he was named Super Bowl MVP, Rodgers immediately began talking about winning a second Super Bowl.  As a self-admitted perfectionist, Rodgers knows that he and his team can get better and that they want to get better.  That’s a scary prospect for the rest of the NFL.

Of course, motivation won’t be the only issue facing McCarthy this season. With his injured players returning, there could be some chemistry issues that will need to be resolved.

Starters that went down early, like Nick Barnett, potentially find themselves on the outside looking in at their old jobs and may not like the fact someone else may keep it.  Desmond Bishop performed brilliantly in Barnett’s absence and it may not make sense for McCarthy and Dom Capers to insert Barnett back into the lineup.

The 2010 Packers were a team in the truest sense of the word and had outstanding locker room chemistry late in the season.  It would be preposterous for McCarthy to allow that to vanish just because one player doesn’t want to compete for their job.   If someone becomes such a problem, I would expect McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson to quickly rectify the situation.

Now that’s he is done basking in the glory of winning Super Bowl XLV, McCarthy knows his plate is full for 2011.  He realizes that staying on top of the mountain is much tougher than reaching it.

Is he up to the task? With the lockout near a conclusion, we are about to find out.

Dare to be great, Mike. Dare to be great.

 

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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.

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  • Tarynfor 12

    Really? Dare to be great,Mike.Dare to be great.
    What other coach in NFL history did what MM did last year?
    MM dared the other 31 teams to stop them even as the injuries ran amok.Not once did MM ever consider the season lost.Never an excuse at any time during the season had he uttered an inference to which he could fall back on if we didn’t win it.
    MM dared the league and achieved his greatness.Now he is dared to win again to be considered great,how dare you.
    I would have to think that if the Packers do win it all again,MM must then be placed at the head of the table for rewriting the measure of greatness.Surely,if he doesn’t,than last year will be labeled a fluke by many apparently but,if he does than it must be called the greatess job of coaching ever in the history of the NFL.
    Sorry,daring him this year is discounting digracefully what he accomplished for us all last year.IMO.

  • FireMMNow

    I agree with the article. MM and the team did a great job last year, but in order to be remembered for greatness you have to win multiple championships in a run. The packers of 1996 may have been one of the best teams in the history of the NFL, but they are not mentioned in that group because they only won one title. Dynasties are remembered for a hundred years, one and dones are remembered for one year.

    The article is about MM creating motivation for his staff and players. Not an assessment of the job they have done so far.

  • Ron LC

    Set the standard high. Demand perfection. Good things will happen. No ifs, ands, or buts, just do it. That’s not too much to ask is it?

    • Tarynfor 12

      I must have missed the season,because thats exactly what they did while under an even more difficult terms than any other could have dreamed.

      • Oppy

        Yes, we all appreciate the amazing feat with the injuries and all.. but the whole point is that repeating sets your team’s name in stone.

        It’s kinda like how when great championship teams are the topic, everyone talks about the New York Giants..

        What do you say?

        Oh, Are you sure?

        People DON’T still talk about the NYG’s?

        See what I mean..

  • Michalske

    The article and comments frame the problem neatly — the Packers should get credit for immense accomplishments in 2010, but if they spend the 2011 season thinking about how great they were in 2010, they won’t take the step to the next level of greatness.

    McCarthy needs to get the team to have “short memories” and play almost as if last year didn’t happen. They, as if the Packers are still the hunters and not the hunted. Since they won’t get any traction with the underdog idea any more, what they need to become is the king tiger, the lone predator who destroys his competition just because he can, and remains king because he always wins in the end.

    Fortunately, Greed bay has a resource in former players who spent the better part of a decade dominating their competions. Here’s to having the present day team commune a little more with the likes of Starr, Taylor, Willie Davis and Paul Hornung — so Rodgers and Co. can absorb the attitude that leads to multiple championships.

  • Michalske

    I noticed some bad spelling in my post — my apologies for making people read that.

  • BigBayBlues

    You must agree that all of us were left a bit unsatiated after the Packers lost Super Bowl XXXII. The rumors of Holmgren leaving surfaced in the week leading up to the game, and it was a slow slide down the backside of the mountain after climbing to the peak for 5 years. Don’t we all remember that taste in our mouths? I know I do because I was at Super Bowl XXXII, and I remember the long plane ride home. Let’s not stop with one this time. Like Lombardi said, “Just because you’ve won one championship, I don’t think you should be filled up. You should try to win as many as you can.” If any franchise can pull it off, we can. Now lets get this season started!

  • Stroh

    Good article… Totally agree, that the Packers need to win multiple SB’s to be considered great. Steelers, Niners, Cowboys and NE all won I believe 3 SB’s in a decade and if I remember correctly they won 3 or more SB’s in a 5 year stretch. That has to be the goal for the Packers this year! Become the dynasty of the ’10’s… They will need 3 SB’s to become that dynasty team. Thats the next goal! Like the tag line “Dare to be Great”!

    Lucky for Packers fans, if they do win a SB next year, there is even a bigger goal to be had! Be the Best Packers Dynasty! They would have a very difficult task to overcome, but it is something they can definitely use as motivation if it comes to winning a 3rd SB title in a row!

    Can McCarthy keep the foot on the gas long enough to challenge Lombardi for the Greatest Packers Dynasty?