GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers went back to work Monday following their bye week knowing they’ll have their hands full with the undefeated Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
But before they worry about the Rams, they focused on another team: Their own.
“Today’s about self-improvement,” McCarthy said after his players went through various meetings on their first day back at work after five days off. “And that’s all I talked to them about in the team meeting. Even the things we are doing pretty good statistically is not good enough, and that’s always been the approach here.”
Among the meetings players attended Monday were what McCarthy calls “across-the-hall” meetings, in which defensive coaches give offensive players their observations and pointers and vice versa.
McCarthy said each meeting was roughly an hour and a half long and paired up various positions so coaches and players could engage in evaluation of the information gleaned from the staff’s bye week self-scouting.
For example, left tackle David Bakhtiari said he and the other offensive tackles, along with the tight ends, met with their outside linebacker teammates Monday. With offensive line coaches James Campen and Jeff Blasko coaching up Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and the edge rushers, while linebackers coach Winston Moss shared his findings with the tackles and tight ends.
“It’s breaking down, if they were to play us this week, ‘This is how I’d approach you. This is what I’m seeing on film,'” Bakhtiari said. “It’s a different viewpoint instead of just your offensive line coach.”
Added veteran cornerback Tramon Williams, whose group was paired with the wide receivers: “Those guys are talking about the things that give them trouble, we’re talking about the things that give us trouble.
“We go over film and look at some clippings of what we’ve done well or what we might not have done so well, and I think it just helps everybody in general to know that, ‘OK, going forward, this is the way the defense is looking to attack us.’ Or, ‘This is the way the offense is looking to attack us.'”
Of course, now it’s a matter of taking that intel and putting it to good use against the Rams, who come in as the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team at 7-0 and leading the NFL in total offense (445.3 yards per game) and ranked second in scoring (33.6 points per game).
Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Coliseum kicks off a brutal stretch for the Packers (3-2-1), who play four of their next five games on the road and will travel to New England to face the Patriots and Tom Brady after their matchup with the Rams.
McCarthy said Monday the team will travel to Southern California on Friday, a day earlier than usual, and will have their most arduous practices of the week on Tuesday and Wednesday — a day earlier than normal.
“For us, it’s one week at a time,” Williams said. “We know that we have an obviously undefeated Rams team this week, who a lot of people think is unbeatable.
“Obviously, we know they’re beatable at some degree. But they are tough, a tough team. Everything they advertise to be, they are. And we haven’t been who we say we were. We’re still working on that. But we feel confident about our chances going into LA, though.
“We have to face all those teams. But we can only do it one at a time. We can’t look ahead to next week and talk about Tom Brady right now. It’s the Rams. We understand what’s coming up, but that starts out with the Rams, so that’s what we’re focused on.”
The Packers are a significant underdog, even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
The Packers are hoping that Rodgers, who has been playing through a painful left knee injury sustained in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener, is the healthiest he’s been since the injury, and his improved mobility could mean more options for McCarthy as an offensive play-caller.
McCarthy said if Rodgers’ knee is significantly better, he’ll be able to line up under center more often, which should lead to more carries for the running backs and more effective play-action passing.
“When you throw the football, especially the normal down-and-distance, you want to be higher in action-pass than you are in drop-back,” McCarthy said.
“The drop-back component of throwing the football has been the strength, but the action-pass is where you want to do a better job, especially (with) the run game. The run game needs attempts. That’s really the biggest thing that came out of the self-scout.”