Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy called it his team’s “responsibility” to play to its lofty expectations and compete for a second Super Bowl championship in three years.
The Packers seemed on track to make it back-to-back championships last year, but a 15-1 regular season went down the drain with a 37-20 throttling by the eventual-champion Giants in the playoffs.
“That's not what I'm looking for and it's not what our players want and that's really all that matters,” McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Rob Reischel in an interview conducted at the end of the abbreviated minicamp and published on Tuesday — exactly one month until the start of training camp.
“We have a blueprint of success for the way we train, but it's a challenge every year. The team takes on a new face every year. There's a path out there for us to get to New Orleans and win the championship. It's our responsibility, and with a little touch of grace from the good Lord, we'll be able to stay on that path.”
Experience works in the Packers’ favor. Among their preferred starters from last year, only running back Ryan Grant (free agent) and safety Nick Collins (neck injury) aren’t on this year’s 90-man training camp roster. The coaching staff returns virtually intact, with Joe Philbin’s departure to Miami being the one loss. The offensive scheme, however, won’t change aside from a few tweaks, and this is the fifth year under special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum and the fourth year under defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
“I just feel with all returning players, our fourth year in the system defensively, fifth year in the system with Shawn ... we have a lot of experience with the players in this system,” McCarthy said. “I just feel as a whole, it was a very athletic offseason program and I've been impressed with the quality of depth and the competition we're going to have.
“This (team), on paper, looks like it's going to live up to those standards.”
Defensively, McCarthy said he had no reason to anticipate last year’s struggles. Offensively, on the other hand, the Packers piled up 560 points — the second-most in NFL history.
“To me, last year was the standard,” he said of the offense. “We set the standard on offense and that’s what we’d like to hold ourselves to.”
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.