There wasn’t a better team during the NFL’s regular season last year than the Green Bay Packers. They finished with just one lone loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. That said, they certainly weren’t without their flaws, particularly on defense, which ultimately led to the Packers’ demise in the playoffs.
The team’s president, Mark Murphy, expects that defense to improve heading into the 2012 season, and thus says the team might be even better this year than it was last year. But Mark Murphy also realizes that might not mean another one-loss season given the strong division.
Mark Murphy joined WSSP in Milwaukee with Bill Michaels to discuss what a third preseason game is typically like, preseason camp in the post-collective bargaining agreement era, the Packers’ defense getting better without live tackling, if this team has gotten better since winning the Super Bowl and the replacement officials used up to this point.
As a former player, what is the third preseason game like?:
“Well, from a team perspective, it’s your last dress rehearsal. Although, when I played, it was a little different. We really, players, played more in all four of the preseason games. But in recent years it’s become kind of the one game where you use it as a dress rehearsal. We’ll gameplan and treat it as much as possible as a regular-season game. But you’ll still, in the second half, have the backups and a lot of the younger players in. It’s just another opportunity for them to show they deserve to be on the team.”
Is it better now, post-collective bargaining agreement, that there are no more two-a-days and players are putting in more work off the field?:
“Well, I think so. … I think we want to practice smarter, not harder. I know, just from my own experience of going through two-a-days for years, it would wear you down. And you’d go into the season beat up. Now it’s a completely different approach. I think the downside is, when you don’t practice full speed and you don’t tackle, when you get to the real games, it’s an adjustment. But it’s even for every team.”
On players saying the only way to get better is by wanting to and then by improving during games:
“Well, it’s hard to practice tackling without actually tackling. But what you can work on, particularly, is team drills — making sure everybody is pursuing to the ball, that you’re taking proper angles. … But you’re right, until you’re actually taking a running back to the ground, it’s not the same.”
Since this team won the Super Bowl, has it gotten better, worse or stayed the same?:
“The reality in the NFL is that if you’re not always striving to get better, if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. We’ll see. I’m really anxious to see how we play. … I think we may be better this year, but we might not have a better record. I do think we’ll be improved on defense. It’ll be hard to be much better on offense, just the reality of it.”
On the situation between the NFL and the officials:
“I’m aware of what’s going on and I think we’re all disappointed that it hasn’t been resolved yet. I hope they can get it resolved before the regular season. I think it’s kind of at a stalemate, quite honestly, now. Our regular officials feel that all the leverage will swing to them if the replacement officials do a bad job. … I still think it’ll get resolved.”
On the performance of the replacement officials to this point:
“I haven’t watched a lot of other games, but our games, I thought it was serviceable. And they’re going to get better. The league office and the staff in New York took a lot of time and effort into trading them. The reality was, what we didn’t want to get stuck with was going through this labor situation and having the potential of the officials striking and then not being able to play games, so we had to have replacements at the ready to make sure the games could continue.”