Favre fears complacency
Yes, the Packers are 10-1, far exceeding the wildest of expectations for this season. But Favre still can’t shake his nagging concern that the Packers’ young players are too loose and carefree considering what’s at stake – and might be headed for a fall.
Especially after the Packers turned in a not-so-sharp practice Sunday, only four days away from their toughest matchup of the season at Dallas on Thursday night.
“I never thought we’d be 10-1 and be as loose as we are,” Favre said. “I worry each week that this complacency and stuff will creep up on us, and it may. I don’t know.”
The Packers returned to practice Sunday and were missing some key players because of injuries, one possible explanation for what Favre deemed a subpar effort. But Favre also sensed a hint of a hangover from their 37-26 Thanksgiving Day victory at Detroit.
“We had a lot of guys out today and that always poses problems,” Favre said. “But I found that the practice today was not as sharp, probably because guys are (saying), ’We’re 10-1.”’
Favre said that wouldn’t have happened to the veteran Packers teams run by Mike Holmgren in the 1990s. But now that he has such a young supporting cast, he doesn’t quite know what to expect.
“I’ve been on some teams that had some veteran guys that you didn’t really worry about as much,” Favre said. “Mike Holmgren would chew us out and stuff. But I’m sure he went back up to his office and said, ’I’ve got to do that.’ Here, I don’t know.”
And Favre is hesitant to dip into his own past in hopes of providing guidance to younger teammates. He’s not sure they would take him seriously.
“I think if I got up and shared my experiences, they would say, ‘Aw, shut up. Who cares? We’ll be fine,”’ Favre said. “And we are fine – until we’re not fine, if that makes any sense. We haven’t had to respond to a lot of adversity this year. I consider that good and bad at the same time.”
For now, Packers coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t seem too keen on delivering history lessons to his team. No, the Packers haven’t won a game in Dallas during Favre’s tenure in Green Bay, but they haven’t played there since 1999, so what does that matter to this team?
“Like I told our football team, ’90 percent of you were in little league the last time we played there,”’ McCarthy said. “It’s really irrelevant. What they should be talking about is how many road games we’ve won in the last two years here because that, in my opinion, pertains to us as a football team.”
Center Scott Wells is in his fourth season in Green Bay, making him a veteran, at least within the context of the Packers’ locker room. Wells understands Favre’s concern, but doesn’t necessarily share it.
“He has more experience than I do to look back and see it, but I’m not really worried about that,” Wells said. “I think everybody’s focused. We realize that we need to continue to win, and that’s what we’re working toward.”
When it was suggested the Packers’ young players take a happy-go-lucky attitude toward the season, Wells disagreed.
“I think we have a confident football team because we’re playing well,” Wells said. “I think everybody in here realizes that we have a lot of room for improvement. By no stretch of the imagination are we where we need to be.”
And, at least to some extent, Wells said it’s good for a team to be loose.
“I think that there’s a thin line between complacency and confidence, so it depends which side of the fence you’re on, how you see it,” Wells said. “Loose goes with both of them. I think we’re a confident football team, and I don’t see anybody getting complacent. We’re all hungry for the ultimate goal at the end of the season and we realize we need to win each game to get there.”
Favre doesn’t want his young teammates to lose their looseness. He just wants to make sure they realize that things are about to get tougher.
“Play loose, but be ready to play,” Favre said. “Study your stuff, know what’s going to happen, know it’s going to be a tough environment, as it always is for us, and see what happens. That’s been a pretty good formula for this year, whether our guys realize it or not.”