On a couple of national radio programs broadcasting from the Super Bowl in Miami on Tuesday, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy expressed that the youth of his team and the momentum it built at the end of 2006 has him looking forward to the start of offseason workouts in 2007.
And that optimism has his coaching staff working diligently to complete its comprehensive 2006 evaluation and placing heightened importance on the upcoming offseason program.
"I think there's definitely going to be a carry over as we move forward," McCarthy said on the nationally syndicated Jim Rome show, speaking by phone from Austin, Texas. "Right now we have more players under contract than anybody in the National Football League, and that has a lot to do with how young we are as a football team.
"Our focus as a coaching staff is we've spent a lot of time moving ahead in our scheme evaluation because when our offseason program comes, it needs to be the best offseason program we've ever had up here as we move forward."
That offseason program begins March 19, and the biggest question mark for the Packers is whether or not Brett Favre will be their starting quarterback.
McCarthy told Rome that he has spoken to Favre recently but has no prediction on when a decision is forthcoming. He added in a conversation with Sirius NFL radio that but that he feels Favre's decision this year is very different from last year, when the team was coming off a 4-12 season and undergoing a coaching change.
The decision is entirely a family matter, McCarthy believes, but no matter which way it goes, McCarthy is charged up to start preparing for 2007.
"I'll always be optimistic," McCarthy said, speaking with Sirius' Adam Schein and Jim Miller. "I think every football team when that offseason program starts, you have an opportunity to build something special. When March 19 starts for us, I definitely hope Brett will be there leading our football team, and I like our chances as good as anybody."
McCarthy added that he expects the team to begin its offseason program reasonably healthy, much like it ended 2006, when the injury report was short and the winning streak reached four games.
"We're doing well there," McCarthy said on Sirius regarding the team's overall health. "Actually it was unfortunate we were not able to get into the playoffs. That was the healthiest our football team had been all year. We really came out of the season strong. We had a number of guys on IR (injured reserve), but they'll all be back."
The hope is that with good health and a year of valuable experience for all the young players that the Packers can avoid the slow start - a 1-4 record at the bye week - that damaged the team's playoff chances early in 2006 and prompted McCarthy to reflect on his first season as head coach with "mixed feelings."
"Everybody remembers how you finish, and that's important because right now there's a lot of positives in our organization about the movement and the direction of our football team," McCarthy told Rome. "The way we started the season was not what we were looking for, but we did make progress as a football team and finish strong. When I refer to mixed feelings, I just wish we had come out of the gates stronger."