Desire For Title Fueled Woodson's Frustration

Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson talked to reporters for the first time since his postgame criticism of Dom Capers after the Minnesota game on Oct. 5. Woodson had plenty of interesting things to say, and he still thinks this team has the potential to be something special.

Charles Woodson has made millions of dollars. Intercepted 39 passes. Been voted to five Pro Bowls.

What he hasn't done is win a Super Bowl.

"I want to be a part of a great team, and to be part of a great team, you've got to win the whole thing," Woodson said on Thursday. "That's the only way that you secure the fact that people talk about your team for years to come. There's no question there's a little mode of desperation there as far as a championship is component."

And that desperation was what fueled Woodson's frustration after a disheartening loss at Minnesota on Oct. 5. Speaking to reporters for the first time since questioning Dom Capers' game plan and one of Ted Thompson's personnel decisions, Woodson sounded apologetic for being a messenger but not for his message that night in the Metrodome.

"I like speaking my mind, but at the same time, there's a lot of other guys involved besides myself," Woodson said. "I know we're all working hard for the same goal and we're all frustrated with losing, basically. Are there some things we can do better? Absolutely. Myself and whoever else have got to do a better job of keeping it out of the media. I'll answer the questions the best I can, but not try to make it a confrontational thing with me, the coaches and whoever else. That's one thing I've got to work on."

Just like Greg Jennings venting his frustration for having only 11 receptions through four games, Woodson's criticism of Capers hardly set off a firestorm inside 1265 Lombardi Ave. That likely speaks well to the solidarity among the coaches and players, even after a disappointing 2-2 start to the season.

Woodson was upset that the wide variety of blitzes that are a hallmark of Capers' scheme were mostly kept under wraps against Brett Favre and the Vikings in their hyped NFC North showdown. The day after the game, Capers acknowledged Woodson's criticism and attributed his conservative play-calling to some breakdowns in the secondary that were exposed during a few of his early blitzes.

"Yeah, we talked briefly," Woodson said. "Everything was mutual, so it was good."

Woodson is one of the more quotable players on the team, not because he's an outspoken malcontent like Terrell Owens but because he's thoughtful and intelligent. Coming on the heels of an emotional loss, Woodson was sorry that his frustration bubbled over.


Charles Woodson has 22 interceptions for the Packers.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
"It's one of those things where after a tough game, even though you mean what you say, a lot of times, you've got to use a little bit of discretion," Woodson said. "Does it help? Does it not help? Who knows? The thing that I know is that I'm here to play football. I don't make personnel decisions, I don't call plays, I don't do any of that. My contract spells it out very specifically that I'm here to play football, and that's what I'm expected to do and, really, that's all I can do."

Heading into the regular season, Woodson spoke boldly about the Packers being Super Bowl contenders. There was no talk of Super Bowl on Thursday, but that doesn't mean he thinks any less of the team's potential.

"I still feel good. That doesn't change. The test is to play like you feel," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind that team-wise, we have what we need in this room in order to be a good team. I don't think anybody in here felt any differently than I felt in the preseason. There's no reason why, going forward in this season, that we can't get back to playing at that high tempo and that high level we did in the preseason. That being said, we're all optimistic. We've got another test this week, and we look forward to going out and being a dominating team and being the dominating defense that people seen in the preseason. Hopefully, we get that back."

The schedule provides the potential to do just that. The Packers host Detroit (1-4) on Sunday before heading to Cleveland (1-4) the following week. The Lions are averaging barely 20 points per game while the Browns are scoring only 11 points per game. Combined, they've been outscored by 12.5 points per game.

Woodson left no doubt about what he thinks the outcome should be on Sunday.

"I feel like we're a better team than Detroit," Woodson said. "I think most of the guys, if not all, feel the same way. Yeah, we feel like we're supposed to win the game. Whether it's the next three out of four or four out of four, we feel like we're supposed to win these games. Going in this week, we're going in with the expectation that we're going to win this game."

Detroit and Cleveland kick off what could be a defining stretch to the season. After those two games, Green Bay gets a rematch against Minnesota on Nov. 1 before visiting winless Tampa Bay on Nov. 8. The Packers will either be flying high at the season's midway mark or mired in a deep hole.

"It'd definitely be nice (to go 4-0 in that stretch)," Woodson said. "If you lose one game in the division, you're already behind the 8-ball. Minnesota's on a roll right now. They've beaten us, they've beaten Detroit, they have some tests coming up with Chicago and us again. When you drop these division games, at the end of the season, there's no coming back for them. So, we need to take care of business, get this division game and win the games down the road, and when Minnesota comes around, try to get a win there. Because you lose one, that could be it. There's nothing you can do about it. We've got to win these games."

Woodson acknowledged that part of his frustration after the Minnesota game is due to his burning desire to win a Super Bowl. At 32, and with near-misses with Oakland (lost to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII following 2002 season) and Green Bay (lost to Giants in NFC title game following 2007 season), Woodson knows time is of the essence. He doesn't want to see a talented team fritter away an opportunity. So, he'll do whatever it takes to bring out the best in this team.

And if that's prodding his teammates or coaches?

"If that helps, yeah," Woodson said. "Do we have the team? Absolutely. We've got a lot of players, a lot of playmakers. Only we can do it. We've just got to go out and do it. However we get it done, whatever has to happen for it to get done, then we've got to do it."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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