GREEN BAY, Wis. – The road to putting Sunday’s season-opening debacle in the rearview mirror started, literally, on the road for the Packers.
“We were on the bus already talking about it and, usually when a game like that happens, you get blown out, everybody’s got their headphones on, nobody’s really vibing with each other. But it was smiles already on the bus,” receiver Davante Adams said on Thursday.
While much of the team’s legion of fans remain in “freakout” mode, the Packers are confidently looking forward to Monday night’s home opener against the Lions and not meekly back to the 38–3 loss to the Saints.
After back-to-back 13–3 seasons with trips to the NFC Championship Game, there’s little reason to wonder if the team will regain its winning form.
The team certainly doesn’t have any concerns about it.
“I’m not going to make it bigger than it was,” Rodgers said. “I’ll let you guys on the outside world do all that. Look, we’ve won a lot of games around here. We’ve lost a few. But you move on. It doesn’t matter if you play incredible and put up 50 or you get blown out. You move on to the next opponent. If we’re starting to freak out after one week, we’re in big trouble.”
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Players learn from an early age that there’s always a next game. Win or lose, there’s not time to dwell on the good or the bad. Or, in this case, the really bad.
Adams recalled the quote from Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo on how focusing on the past is about ego and focusing on the future is about his pride, but focusing on the present is about humility. So, the page was turned quickly. Adams called it one of the “quicker flushes” of a loss that he’s seen and called Thursday a good practice with “great energy.”
“We’re good. We’re going to be OK,” Adams said. “I think people just freak out because they know, ‘Somebody’s got to freak out about this. Why not me?’ Nobody should be really shook up off of one game.”
So, while fans freaked out during and after Week 1, Rodgers had a more soothing message in his postgame comments. Rodgers called it “just one game” because that’s what it was—just the first of 17 games. It was a calculated message for everyone but especially for his teammates. It worked in 2014 with his famous spelling out of “r-e-l-a-x” as well as 2016 after Rodgers boldly said the Packers could “run the table” after falling to 4–6.
Rodgers didn’t offer any T-shirt-worthy statements on Sunday and he didn’t on Thursday, either. That didn’t make his message any less valuable.
“You’re damn right. Every time I’m up here, it’s a message to all of them, to the fans,” Rodgers said. “When I was on the show with Jason (Wilde in 2014), that was spur of the moment, but I was hoping my teammates would hear and the fans would hear that we need to relax. When I said in the locker room that I believe we can run the table, it wasn’t predetermined, it was in the moment. But, in the moment, it was something that I had thought about before as I looked at the future schedule and it was cued up perfectly to say something that I thought could inspire the guys.
“Now, I wasn’t trying to be especially inspired after the loss in Jacksonville. I was trying to put the loss in the context where it deserves to be put. It’s not acceptable, but it’s just one game and we’re not going to be held prisoner mentally by that poor performance.”