Guarding against over-confidence

The Green Bay Packers are the youngest team in the National Football League. They have a flashy 4-0 record, and if there ever was a time to be concerned about over-confidence, now is the time. PackerReport.com's Todd Korth explains why fans shouldn't be worried.

Mike McCarthy seems determined not to let over-confidence become an issue, and today he provided a telling example that his players feel the same way. The straight-forward head coach is about as grounded as his team is youthful, so it's a stretch to think that the Packers will get too carried away with their early success this season. The coach and his staff simply will continue to bring the Packers down to earth by pointing out their shortcomings and using the I word as much as possible - improvement.

After beating the Minnesota Vikings 23-16 in a very physical and emotional game Sunday, the Packers had every right to celebrate in their Metrodome locker room, but that wasn't exactly the case when McCarthy entered.

"I walked in, I joked to a number of them that, 'Hey, we won the game,'" McCarthy said today. "There were a number of players who were disappointed in the way they played. Now, after watching the film, I see why. There are segments of the game that we didn't play very good football. We made enough plays to overcome some of the situations we were in. I know I sound like a broken record here, but we need to improve. It's important to improve at this time of year because as you get into November and December, you can't be going down there (Hutson Center) for a two-hour and 45 minute practice because now the health of your football team is a concern. You're more in a maintenance mode. We have a number of players that need to improve in the technical and fundamentals of football, and it's an urgency and emphasis to get it done now."

The Packers are 4-0 but hardly considered to be in the same group of teams as the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. Green Bay has a punchless rushing attack and the team's run-defense gave up some big plays to the Vikings. Take away Brett Favre's effectiveness, and the Packers probably aren't undefeated at this point. But they are, and the team and coach seems focused to get better. That should help the team overcome any over-confidence issues.

"I feel like that our football team has a very good understanding of where they are as far as the progression of being a great football team, a championship football team," McCarthy said. "It's something that we talk about all the time. I think we're a good, young football team that will continue to improve and we continue to talk about it.

"I'm not a psychology major. I'm not in to false confidence, trying to build them up real high one week. I just tell them the truth. I tell them what I see on film. I tell them what I see at practice. If a guy is running last minute to a meeting, I confront him and question him on 'where's your focus?' That's the only way I know how to do it, and will continue to do so. It's a very upfront, direct approach in keeping your eye on the target."

The Packers literally are abiding by the old cliche of taking it one game at a time. That sense seems evident in the locker room that is sprinkled with enough veterans at various positions to keep any young players from developing over-inflated egos.

The Packers are learning how to deal with success with each victory, and so is their head coach. So far, so good, but there are always new lessons to be learned.

"It's a daily education," McCarthy said. "We're very young. We had a situation happen with a player that thought he was inactive, so he didn't come to the plane (Saturday) at the right time. That's a perfect example of my responsibility as a head coach to make sure you address every little thing.

"I think we're a young football team that's getting better week in and week out, and we'll continue to work. I'm talking about on the field, off the field. It's a daily message, and I'll keep hammering away at it."

Many of the Packers are so young that they probably don't realize the setbacks of overconfidence. That's a good thing, and it's a good thing that they have McCarthy as the head coach.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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