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.
When our schedule was announced last spring, two things really stood out. First, we had a front-loaded schedule with five of the first seven games at home. It was clear that we needed to get off to a fast start, but with a new head coach, I wasn't sure how realistic it was to expect this type of start. Second, we would face a difficult stretch in October and November with four out of five games on the road (with the bye week in this stretch of games, we had only one home game between Oct. 20 and Dec. 8).
Head Coach Matt LaFleur has obviously done an excellent job, and as we head into December, we are well-positioned to finish the season strong. We started the season fast – going 7-1 to open the season and 5-1 at home so far. Also, we weathered the tough five-game stretch, going 3-2. Now, we haven't clinched anything yet, and we have to focus each week on that week's opponent, but it is great to be in this position, playing meaningful games in December after missing the playoffs the last two years. It should be an exciting December for the Packers.
Now, on to your questions…
Jacob from Ironwood, MI
I have been able to have my questions answered by Wes, Mike (mid-week chat) and even the infamous Vic. You have been the elusive feather in my cap, however. My question is about how you temper your personal expectations in a successful season such as this. I can't imagine how difficult it is to balance taking your best shot this season, while also managing cap space and preparing for next year. How do you manage to cheer on your team with passion, just like us fans, while understanding that we may not win it all this year and continue planning for future seasons? Thanks for your time.
Here's the proverbial feather in your cap, Jacob, and welcome to Murphy Takes Five. You ask a great question. While we are always trying to win the Super Bowl, we are also planning for the future and want to ensure we can remain competitive in the future. That said, though, you are never quite sure when you might have your best chance to win a Super Bowl. So much in the league is dependent on injuries. If we field a competitive team every year, hopefully, there will be years where everything comes together and we can win a Super Bowl championship.
A question from Jon
Mark, what's next, just say 0-1 for the week and start over? The game definitely showed shortcomings – give up too many plays up middle, need another top receiver opposite Davante. We aren't controlling the line of scrimmage. How can this be fixed right now? The media has definitely left the Packer train, saying we are frauds. Last week they were saying the opposite. I know you have more at stake than I, which is just bragging rights at work. We went from the driver's seat to fighting for winning our division. Interested in what's next.
Jon wrote this question the day after our loss to the 49ers. I wasn't feeling very good after that game either. It was certainly a disappointing loss. The NFL is a week-by-week league, though, and things can change dramatically from week to week. We used to say that you aren't as good as they say you are after wins, and also not as bad as they say you are after losses. We have to continue working on improving our performance on offense, defense and special teams. With the win over the Giants and now two straight home games, we have the opportunity to build some momentum as we close out the season.
A question from Jeff
Hello Mark, it was great meeting you and getting a picture with you in LA. Just wish the result the next day was different. Slightly ruined a great Packer weekend. With the league possibly going to a 17th game in the next CBA, how do you feel about this as an ex-player and how do you feel as an NFL executive? Where would you assume the extra game be played? How about making the extra game an interconference game and have the home team be the conference that won the Pro Bowl? Sure would make the Pro Bowl more exciting and competitive and would make the ratings skyrocket. Thanks for the response.
Interesting question, Jeff. As you know, the topic of the structure of the season (currently four preseason and 16 regular-season games) has been an issue for quite a while now. What is really driving this is the fact that fewer and fewer starters are playing in preseason games, and the quality of play in the preseason games is worsening. Also, it is obvious that teams (and players) don't need four games to get ready for the regular season. When I was playing in the league, most starters played in all four preseason games, and most of the game in the second and third games. In my current position, I think that a move to three preseason and 17 regular-season games would be good for the league, primarily because of the deteriorating quality of the preseason games. I appreciate your suggestion regarding the Pro Bowl – similar to what baseball used to do with the All-Star Game (winner had home-field advantage in the World Series). The quality of play in the Pro Bowl is so poor, though, that I'd be reluctant to have something as important as the extra home game depend on the outcome of that game. The ninth home game would have to be by conference, and you would alternate every year. The 17th game would also give us the flexibility to play more games internationally or at neutral sites. Any changes to the season structure, though, would have to be part of our next collective bargaining agreement.
Recipients of the Green Bay Packers Foundation grants were honored Wednesday afternoon at the annual luncheon held in the Lambeau Field Atrium.
A question from Gary
Mark, as a proud Packers shareholder, I haven't gambled on football since 1996. With the commissioner's recent statement on firing all NFL employees who gamble on games, how does this impact the hundreds of thousands of Packers shareholders who have been notified we are bona fide owners?
Thanks for raising this issue, Gary. It is certainly timely with the expansion of legalized sports betting and the recent suspension of Arizona Cardinals player Josh Shaw. As you note, the commissioner came down strongly against Shaw, suspending him for the remainder of the season and all of the 2020 season, and made a powerful statement regarding gambling. The NFL rules have long prohibited players, owners and employees from gambling on NFL games. For these purposes, I do not think Packers shareholders would be considered owners (also, it would be very difficult for the league to enforce this policy with over 370,000 shareholders). I believe our board of directors would be more analogous to owners, and we have a policy that prohibits members of our board from betting on NFL games.
Jim from Spooner
What are your thoughts on the brawl at the end of the Steelers-Browns game? It was one of the worst fights I have seen in a football game.
I agree with you wholeheartedly, Jim. It was an embarrassment and awful for the league. What kind of message does this send to young kids playing the game? When the Browns player hit the Steelers quarterback over the head with his helmet, I thought I was watching a professional wrestling match (except the weapon was a helmet instead of a chair). I'm glad the commissioner acted swiftly and strongly, and that he fined both teams $250,000.