'We are a better team'

Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman addressed the media today in his season-ending press conference at Lambeau Field. Here is what he had to say about the season-ending loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday as part of his opening remarks to the media:<p>

"I fully expected us to play better than we did. We got beat in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams. I'm still at a loss as to why that happened. I'll continue to struggle with that, I guess, throughout this off-season. "That doesn't explain why some of our healthy players didn't play better than they did. That's kind of what I'm struggling with. To say I am very disappointed, as I did after the game, is an understatement. My objective every year will be to go to the Super Bowl, as it was this year. For much of the season, we maintained winning at a pace that would warrant us that opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. The reality of it all is unless you win the Super Bowl at some point everybody that participates in the post-season is going to experience some form of disappointment, and that's pretty much where I am right now. "I look at the season like it's a race, really a marathon. In regard to that analogy, we ran a good race but we certainly didn't finish the race the way it needed to be finished. That's really what counts ... I'd rather be 9-7 and still playing than 12-4 and out. "I believe that we're a better team today than we were a year ago. We certainly didn't play that way on Saturday, but we are a better team. That fact that we were able to win football games at a fairly good clip inspite of the adversity that we faced, I think, reflects that. "Our guys were able to overcome the fact that we had starters miss about 63 starts and we had backups miss about 30 games. That's a fair amount to overcome, and thought we were able to do that. "I'm just proud of the attitude that our players and coaches permeate at practice and in meetings, and in preparation for games that we will never use injuries as an excuse. They are a reality, however, that we were hit with those injuries, but they'll never being an excuse. The players for the last three years have bought into that and that's important if you want to be successful. So, I believe we're making progress there. "We went into this year with a fair amount of our rookies participating. I believe that we had five rookies start about 23 games and that doesn't include Najeh Davenport who basically started the Detroit game when he went in in the second series and finished that game out, so you could actually say six rookies for 24 games. That bodes well for the future that those rookies participated. We had other rookies play significant roles on special teams and in backup capacities as well. I feel very good about that group as we look toward the future. "We basically overhauled the receiver position in the off-season. I thought it was a good decision. We're very young at that position, but I believe that position we've benefitted from this year and I think we'll benefit more from it in the future. "We had a number of first-time starters this year. Cletidus Hunt started really for the first time in his career. Kabeer started really for the first time in his career when Joe (Johnson) went down. (Donald) Driver started for the first time in his career, and a number of other players as well. That's a reflection of the assistant coaches and the job that they do in preparing these young players to play football. "I'm proud of the veterans. Very pleased with our veteran leadership on the team. I thought they did a great job with handling things as they came up during the season and keeping us on task through the times of adversity, whether it be injury or loss. We lose two games there after a seven-game stretch of winning. Their ability in their leadership to pull us through that, I'm proud of that. "We've got good guys on this team. I'm proud of the character of the men that we have here. I had very few problems during the season. I might have had three players that were late for a meeting this year, one time. That doesn't usually happen. That doesn't happen at the normal workplace. It doesn't happen in this building in other departments. ... I'm proud of that. That's a big part of our success, in my mind. I'm proud of the toughness on our team. Frankie Winters is having surgery as we speak on his MCL. Guys have played injured. More guys that were listed on injury reports from week to week and fought through some issues. "I guess I'm most proud of the chemistry of our football team at this juncture. I thought our locker room was a strong locker room. When you blend the young players, the free agents that I brought in, and the veteran players ... you put all those guys in that melting pot and I thought they did a great job. They got along real well. The locker room was strong. I think when you have good chemistry, you have people that are accountable. I don't believe anybody's making excuses for the games that we didn't play well in. Everybody is saying, 'Hey, we can do better.' When we were winning games there, won seven in a row, no one was jumping up on the table and saying 'We're this. We're that' It was pretty even keeled. They got the big picture. That all plays into the character and the chemistry of our football team, which is what I am most proud of. I believe as a football coach that if that part is right, you can achieve a lot of things. Maybe because of the chemistry and character of our team we were able to overcome some things this year because of that. That's a priority of mine and will continue to be as I bring people into the Green Bay Packer organization. "Now it's time to get ready for next season. I've already started that process. I met with the doctors, salary cap, talked about the future. The future is going to be very bright. I'm excited. I'm disappointed about what has happened here at the end of the season because of all that was invested, but I'm excited about where we're going and how we're going to get there. "I have a good plan in place. I've got the Senior Bowl coming up next week to look at some players, then off we go. Players have been told about the minicamp and the off-season program and their commitment is going to be huge in the process, as is my commitment to fix the things that need to be fixed. We had some shortcomings that I need to address. I will address them and they will be fixed by the time we start next season."

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