On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com.
Thursday night's 10-3 win over the Chicago Bears wasn't the prettiest win, but it was a great way to start the team's 101st season (and the league's 100th). It was also a great start to Matt LaFleur's coaching career with the Packers. Fittingly, Matt was awarded a game ball following the game. As Al Davis famously said "Just win, baby." They don't give style points in the NFL, and all wins count the same, whether you win 10-3 or 40-0. It was a hard-fought, defensive battle, much like many Packers-Bears games played over the years.
Still, it is only one game, and there are 15 regular-season games to be played. Time will tell, but I think this is the type of win we can build on, especially with the way the defense played on Thursday.
Now, on to your questions…
Bill from Wheaton, IL
First, congratulations on the win Thursday night. I was at the game and was really impressed with all the NFL 100 seasons events being held prior to the game. Is this something that we can expect to see at games all year?
I agree with you, Bill. The atmosphere was spectacular around Soldier Field. I arrived early at the game and was able to see a number of the events being held around the stadium, especially the NFL Experience at Grant Park. To answer your question, though, this was a special game for the league – the Kickoff Game of the 100th season, so you will not see these types of events at all games. The NFL Experience was great, with all kinds of activities very similar to what you would see at the Super Bowl, including photo opportunities with the Lombardi Trophy and sessions with Bears alumni. The big NFL 100 events for us will be the Fantennial Weekend on Oct. 18-20 and the Turkey Bowl in Lambeau Field the week of Thanksgiving.
Tom from Howard, WI
While I am happy that we beat the Bears, I thought our offense was awful. Wasn't their performance proof that we should have played the starters more in the preseason?
Thanks, Tom. You raise an issue that has certainly been at the forefront in recent years. The preseason, and how teams approach it, has changed dramatically over the last decade. The reality is that we are paying our starters so much now that most teams do not think it is worth the risk to play them in the preseason. The fact that the Rams made it to the Super Bowl last year while not playing any of their starters in the preseason has accelerated this trend. It is a classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. If we play our starters in the preseason and a number of them suffer injuries, we will get criticized. If we don't play them in the preseason and we get off to a slow start, we get criticized for not playing them. At this point, though, most teams don't play their starters much at all in the preseason, so it is a level playing field. Also, offenses rely more on timing, and will typically be behind the defenses earlier in the season. Lastly, I would say that you were watching two very good defenses play on Thursday night.
Norma from Chicago, IL
I heard Head Coach Matt LaFleur talk at a press conference about wanting to create a great home-field advantage at Lambeau Field. What kind of things can the Packers do as an organization to create this advantage?
Great question, Norma. We want to have a significant home-field advantage and for Lambeau Field to be a tough place for opponents to play. We've used a number of things over the years to get our fans engaged, including the G Force and the Get Loud Lambeau campaigns. This preseason we experimented with a foghorn on third downs and flashing stadium lights after touchdowns. Next week, we will share some of our plans for this season. We have some great traditions at Lambeau Field (such as "Roll Out the Barrel" and "Bang the Drum All Day), and we want to see if we can find something that will get the stadium even louder on third downs when we're on defense. We can do a lot of different things to get the fans engaged, but I've found the very best way to engage fans is to have an exciting team that is making big plays on both sides of the ball.
Scotty from Lombard, IL
Hi Mark, I hope you are enjoying the summer, and getting excited about our team's upcoming season. I do have a concern regarding officiating the games. With all the cameras and technology available, is it possible/conceivable that live referees will go away, and penalties will be called by someone in the booth watching the game on camera? I hope that does not happen. I have a great deal of respect for the refs and the job they do. Even though the game is so fast, I believe the refs get it right most of the time. When they miss, it is due to human error. Our game is a game played by humans, and we all make mistakes. I am curious to hear your thoughts from both an executive and a former player. Best Wishes and regards.
You raise a valid concern, Scotty. The technology has certainly improved in recent years. Replay review has become an important part of the NFL football games, and we took a big step this year by agreeing to review pass interference calls. I do not see the officials being replaced in the short or long term, though, for the reasons you mention – the game is played, coached and officiated by humans, and humans make mistakes. I think it would be wrong to take this human element out of the game. For the pass interference reviews, the standard for reversals is very high, and throughout the preseason almost none of the calls by the officials on the field were changed.
Trevor from Carmel, NY
Hello Mr. Murphy, now that the 100 Seasons celebration is officially over, can you update us on the last two outstanding items – the "Legacy" documentary and Cliff Christl's book? Do these items have official release dates yet and/or launch prices? Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed the 100 Seasons celebration, Trevor. You can now enjoy the NFL 100 celebration for this season! We've been very pleased with the fans' reaction to our 100 Seasons celebration and hope to wrap it up on a very positive note. "Legacy" should be available by Nov. 15. Cliff Christl's book, which will be the definitive history of the Packers, will be available later. We haven't set the prices yet for "Legacy" or the book.