26

November

Green Bay Packers Show Value of Teamwork in Statement Win

Going into the Thanksgiving showdown between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions on Thursday, my prediction for a Lions upset victory was admittedly tenuous. I knew the Packers had more skill, more talent, and more depth; nevertheless, I was wary about Detroit’s ability to stun opponents with their comeback play. Green Bay has consistently been unable to drive the dagger deep into most of their opponents, and I thought that would come back to bite them against an emotionally-driven team in such a hostile environment.

Boy was I wrong.

Part of the concern for most fans and even beat writers was the list of match-up problems playing against the Packers. The Lion’s infamous front four would be squaring off against an offensive line that had been giving up some pressure in recent games. And Matthew Stafford with his corps of receivers (led by Calvin “Megatron” Johnson) was more than capable of putting up yards against a Packers secondary who found most of their success in turnovers rather than consistent stops.

At face value, it seemed like such a perfect recipe for Green Bay’s first potential loss of the season. The Detroit Lions apparently had the fire and wild energy to disrupt the cool focus of Aaron Rodgers and his teammates.

Fortunately, there was one thing we seemed to be glossing over. One thing that can turn match-up problems into mostly non-issues. One thing that can mean the difference between a hard-fought victory and a heart-breaking loss.

And that thing is teamwork.

Now, I’m not talking about just the players, because this level of teamwork extends all the way up to the coaches and even the front office.

In reality, the Detroit Lions showed that they are largely the antithesis of what the Green Bay Packers have become. What used to be the Minnesota Vikings’ role as the characteristic foil of the Packers has now been bequeathed to the Lions. They have become the “yin” to Green Bay’s “yang.”

For starters, the injuries sustained by both sides on Thursday were handled in bright contrast.

When the Packers lost both of their inside linebackers (and the ability to communicate to the defense by radio), back-up players D.J. Smith and Robert Francois made their presence known with some big plays. Smith landed a number of big tackles, while Francois snatched a game-changing interception out of the air. It’s also hard to ignore the efforts of Evan Dietrich-Smith and Brandon Saine on the offensive side of the ball.

The Lions, however, didn’t fare so well with their injuries. While you have to give them at least some level of sympathy for the sheer amount of depth they lost in the secondary and at the running back position, their level of quality depth didn’t even come close to matching that of the Packers.

This was a testament to the Packers on two levels. You not only need a good team of scouts and administrative decision-makers to bring in talent, but also a team of coordinators and position coaches to teach them their craft.

Another obvious indicator of teamwork across the Packers organization was the way they handled the game over the course of four quarters.

Despite a very ugly first half, the Green Bay Packers came out after halftime with the patient, collected, and focused play they have shown all season. I have yet to see the offense or defense in a panic despite the “adversity situations” both have faced. Instead, they approach what they have to do in a manner befitting champions.

The Lions, meanwhile, have obviously taken a page from their head coach Jim Schwartz. His highly emotional style of coaching has certainly been beneficial in taking the team from 0-16 to a good shot at the playoffs in just a couple years. Unfortunately, this uninhibited style has undermined the self-discipline needed for success. Not only did we see players like Ndamokung Suh lose their cool against the Packers, but anyone who watched their matchup against the Chicago Bears got a big glimpse of this, as well.

Defeating the Detroit Lions in such a complete manner on Thursday solidified for me why the Packers are so good this year, and it’s something I should have recognized sooner.

If I had to point at just one thing responsible for the success of this undefeated team, it would definitely be the quality of work from every level of the Green Bay Packers organization. Without all of these gears working in perfect tandem, this statement game against the Lions might have take a turn for the worse.

In short, this was an organizational win. At the top is general manager Ted Thompson, whose team of eyes can spot talented, young players with the right attitude to work hard at their craft. On the next level are Mike McCarthy and his coordinators, who carefully devise plans that put the players in positions to be successful. Below them are the positional coaches like Kevin Greene and Edgar Bennett that employ the passion and attention to detail that help the players hone their skills.

And at the “bottom” are the players themselves. Veterans like Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson have shown the important ability to lead their team and set the example when it comes to working hard. Meanwhile, the rookies and young back-up players have followed suit in their work ethic and drive to take full advantage of their opportunities.

These Green Bay Packers are the complete package, from top to bottom. Despite what their future holds for the rest of the season, it is clear we are witnessing something special. This convergence of talent and genius is a rare thing, so let’s cherish it for as long as we can.

——————

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

——————

21 Responses to “Green Bay Packers Show Value of Teamwork in Statement Win”

  1. ZeroTolerance says:

    Bravo – nothing more to add.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Ron LC says:

    Your synopsis covers it all. Great Job!

    What teh rest of the football world fails to understand about the Packers is the word “TEAM”. When one receiver is shut down another takes his spot. When on defender is out the replacement is absorbed into the team witg little impact on the whole.

    MM has coached that into the team for 6 years and it is the reason why GB is undefeated at this point of the season.

    The secret to AR’s success his ability to combine his natural talents with MM’s game planning. We are watching something very special here. And this comes from someone who was in their twenties while St. Vince worked his magic.

    Go Pack!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      Very special, indeed! Wish I could have been around to witness both eras like you have.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. ELo says:

    Good post. Coach McC has done a great job with the talent TT has provided. The “next man up”mantra

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. ELo says:

    … really reflects the team mindset. A great time to be a Packer fan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

    I think the one value that makes this team special, but is not looked at.

    The Stable Mentality/Clutch of the entire team.

    With this year, being a very easy yardage defense, the team can easily fold but its a common point that we are very good turning the ball over.

    It takes patience to be able to wait for that one moment for a crucial turnover.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      Definitely agree. Throughout the “comeback” wins from earlier in the season, the Packers have shown a great deal of patience, both in the play-calling and in their execution.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    I think the Lions are where the Packers were in 08 and early 09. They do have talent. But can they learn to work as a team, collect themselves and do the job that needs to be done when the chips are down? The 09 Packers could not. I don’t think the 11 Lions can either. But in a year or two, as the Bears get older, the Lions should be the ones to challenge GB for the division… if they can learn to rein in their egos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

    I very much like the characterization of this being an “organizational” win. Right on the money!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. iccyfan says:

    Excellent article!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Jimmy Gunn says:

    Zach; I didn’t think they could get over the hump.
    The Packers are Detroit’s nemesis and will be for the foreseeable future. You might say they’re our country cousins, even though we are more rural in fact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      I think you meant Chad?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      Yeah, I can see Detroit overshadowing Chicago in the near future unless the Bears add some high quality replacements for their older veterans. Lovie Smith continues to work a great defense, though.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Dan says:

    Great article Chad, your article echoes my feeling about this team . Yesterday (friday) I posted this statement on this site….”This Packer team was put together with high character players in mind , for the most part. TT and MM look for players who love to play football and are not selfish. There are no TOs or R moss’s on this team. No Haynesworths. Finley is probably the exception but even he gets the message this team is preaching. It all showed up yesterday.” ……. Football is the ultimate team sport and TT and MM know this. They have done an amazing job with these tough men. This team cares about the guy next to them. If you watch the sidelines after the J Jones TD Thursday, you will see all the receivers genuinely happy and congratulating Jones, that’s how this whole team bonds, Go Pack!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Dan says:

    Typo….I meant ‘young men’ not… “Tough men”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Savage57 says:

    Chad, Nice to see a writer go back and do the forensics on the back story of what was at play, the vagaries of the situation as it unfolded and then wrap it up in a reasonably presented argument to shore up their thesis.

    Nice writing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0