GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers are coming off consecutive division victories after a rocky start. Coach Mike McCarthy knows they have plenty of room for improvement.
Echoing a sentiment quarterback Aaron Rodgers had expressed in the immediate aftermath of the Packers' 42-10 rout of the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, McCarthy said that despite the offense having turned in consecutive encouraging performances and the defense starting to create turnovers and get stops, the Packers (3-2) need to get better.
''When you evaluate your football team, you look at your play style, which way you're going to play each and every day. There's a standard there,'' McCarthy explained Friday afternoon in his usual day-after-the-game press briefing. ''Quality of play, you're always chasing quality of play to be higher. And, ultimately, win the game.
''Our play style hasn't been very consistent. Our quality of play, we have a lot of work to do there. ... We need to be better.''
That was Rodgers' message after the game as well.
Both Rodgers (12 of 17, 156 yards, three touchdowns, 138.7 quarterback rating) and running back Eddie Lacy (13 carries, 105 yards, two TDs) were extremely efficient, but after a three-and-out to open the game and back-to-back touchdown drives, the offense stalled until defensive end Julius Peppers' 49-yard interception return for a touchdown.
While that might have been nitpicking for a team that built a 42-0 third-quarter lead, Rodgers - after telling fans to ''R-E-L-A-X'' before Sunday's victory at Chicago after the team's 1-2 start - didn't think so.
''A lot to improve on, I think,'' Rodgers said. ''Offensively, we're a little stagnant.
''I think we have some considerable improvements to make moving forward. I mean, this was a home game for us. Defense played really well. Offensively, we started pretty good. Two touchdowns in three drives and then we kind of went stagnant for a while, so that's disappointing.
Asked about Rodgers' comments Friday, McCarthy replied: ''He speaks for the locker room, there's no question about it. He's won championships, he's been an MVP of the league. He knows what it takes and he knows what it looks like, he knows what it feels like. He also knows where we are. We're all excited about what we can be.''
McCarthy gave his players Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, and while they'll return to work Monday, they will not practice, the coach said. Their next game is Oct. 12 at Miami, followed by an Oct. 19 home game against Carolina and an Oct. 26 trip to New Orleans.
''There's a bunch of cliches about one game at a time. To me, it's more about one day at a time,'' McCarthy said. ''I'm a big believer that your preparation shows up in your performance.''
While Rodgers was dissecting the offensive performance, the members of the Packers defense recognized that shutting down the Vikings' Christian Ponder-led - and Adrian Peterson-less - offense was what the unit was supposed to do. After giving up 496 yards to Chicago last Sunday, the defense cannot afford to be complacent.
Still the group did play well. Peppers' interception was one of three takeaways the defense created - giving the unit eight turnovers in the past three games - and the Vikings had just 123 yards of offense entering the fourth quarter.
''To rebound in that manner on a quick turnaround with a divisional rival coming in here, it feels great,'' outside linebacker Clay Matthews said of a defense that sacked Ponder six times and hit him 16 times. ''We've been stressing that for quite some time. The offense and defense have had their ups and downs this season. We've looked great at times, we've looked poor at times. But (this game) seemed like it was close to a complete game.''