Earlier this offseason, there was a report out of Green Bay about the team being “bound and determined” to get more physical for the 2013 season.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel spoke to people inside the organization that said both General Manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy were open about their desire to change the team from being “too soft and small.” It’s not a huge step to go from there to saying that the team needs to be tougher than they were in 2012, unless you’re McCarthy.
“I think it’s a load of nonsense because I think the proof is in the pudding,” McCarthy said, via McGinn’s colleague Rob Reischel. “If you watch the tape and the film and you win 12 games a year and you don’t win the Super Bowl, people have to question something. I get that. … And that’s the beauty of our game. Your will and your toughness are challenged every day. So to ever label an NFL football team as not being tough? I mean, there are some teams that are tougher than others. Most teams think they’re tougher than everybody else. That’s part of the DNA of our sport. But I’m very, very confident in the toughness of our team. The way we train and the way our guys go after it, I’ve been around long enough that I have a pretty good barometer of how to gauge where your football team is. And I like where we are.”
McCarthy takes issue with the word choice, but he hasn’t taken much issue with some of the areas where the Packers underperformed last season in a way that led to questions about their toughness. McCarthy has promised a more effective running game, he’s shuffled the offensive line to place his best players in spots where he believes they can be more effective and they drafted defensive lineman Datone Jones in the first round of the draft.
He might prefer to say that his team needs to get more physical or that they need to play with more of an edge, but the issues all boil down pretty much the same way regardless of what word you use to describe them. They need to be better at running the ball and they need to be better at the point of attack defensively, and it doesn’t much matter if they get there by being tougher, smarter or something else entirely.