Success backed by character

Team will either take a step forward because of its character or season will begin to unravel without it. Packer Report's Todd Korth explains.

One good thing about the reeling Green Bay Packers, is that they are comprised mainly of "football guys." They enjoy playing the game. They like to practice or it least it seems that way. They appreciate where they are in their football careers.

But the Packers aren't executing on game days lately. The defense is failing to fill gaps and stop the run. The offense is sputtering to establish the run. And so on.

Players are getting frustrated. It's evident by buzzing around the locker room during interview periods, but no one is pointing any fingers. That's the good news and reinforces the fact that general manager Ted Thompson has assembled a group of guys who refuse to allow adversity get the best of them. Football guys like A.J. Hawk and Charles Woodson and Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Grant play through injuries if at all possible and play to win. With that kind of leadership, the team will start winning again.

"We have a lot of character in this locker room," said middle linebacker Nick Barnett, who has been struggling. "A lot of character. Am I panicking about three losses in a row? No, but I'm damned concerned. We have the talent to win these games. We've just got to execute. We've got to come out and play Packer football. We have to get a sense of urgency about executing mentally. I think the rest of it will take care of itself. We're very talented and have the drive and the hunger. We just have to clean things up mentally."

That's pretty much sums up the team's problems right now. Execution on offense, defense and special teams. Whether it's tackling or blocking, it comes down to basics. Injuries have contributed to the lack of execution, but this team knows better than anyone that it can't use injuries as an excuse. They're part of every season with every team in the league. It's all about the lack of execution.

With solid character, like the Packers possess, or at least say they possess, they should be able to pull out of their tailspin, possibly even this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks also are reeling, so it will be interesting to see which team can pull together quicker. Of course, the Seahawks will have the luxury of playing in front of their noisy Qwest Field crowd, but the Packers can't use that as an excuse, either.

To Mike McCarthy's credit, he is doing his best to keep the team thinking positively about better execution. That's one of his jobs as the head coach and he's done it well. In 2006, the Packers appeared headed toward a disastrous finish to the season after getting whipped at home in early December by the New York Jets, 38-10. Injuries were piling up and the playoffs were getting further and further out of sight. But the Packers rallied to win their final four games and just miss the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

The Packers are in a similar situation as in 2006, only it's early in the season instead late. McCarthy has been down this road before, so he has a pretty good idea of how to handle his troops.

"Being brutally honest, I've done my fair share of yelling," McCarthy told reporters today. "I don't do it here at the podium, but the message has been clear. I think it's important to just stay on top of what the positives are of the situation that we're in and stay definitely on top of the negatives. We appreciate the help with you guys keeping on top of the negatives. I'm kidding. It's not where we want to be. Who wants to lose three games in a row?

"The important thing is Seattle. I think you have a seven-day schedule for a lot of different reasons. No one felt good after the game and probably no one slept very well Sunday night. We had a long opportunity Monday to go through it. We've gone through that and hit it again this morning, just some of the things as a follow up and we have moved on to Seattle. This is a big challenge. This is a tough place to play. They are a very good football team. They are well coached, so this is a big-time challenge. We can't be sitting here talking about what happened on Sunday. And that's one thing I made clear this morning. We are about the Seattle Seahawks right now."

Is there hope for this team this year? Most certainly. The Packers have not been playing well, but that doesn't mean they can't turn it around with the players who are healthy and able to play. It might happen on Sunday, but maybe not until the following Sunday. We'll see, but the bottom line is the team has to use its character as a springboard to success. With that, victories will come. Without it, it will be a long, frustrating season.

Packers fans can hope with good reason that the team's character will prevail and improved execution will equate to victories.

Todd Korth writes for PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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