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One last look: Week 2 transition crucial for Packers

Win or lose in Week 1, Mike McCarthy has gotten team to shift gears right away


GREEN BAY—The challenge of turning the page quickly in Week 2 is distinct in the NFL, and Mike McCarthy's Packers are pretty good at it.

Week 1 is a monster unto itself. It's known in April who's first on the schedule, before the draft. OTAs and training camp have portions of meetings and practices devoted to preparing for that one specific opponent. Then there's a final week to hone all that preparation for the opener.

"We went months with our focus being on that one game," Packers receiver Randall Cobb said.

Indeed, which can make it difficult – win or lose – to move on, swiftly and efficiently, to the next game. It's time to switch from ultra-prep mode to standard prep, with each game still counting the same, even if it doesn't feel like it. The weekly routine truly starts now, as the New York Jets arrive at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

McCarthy's track record with this brief transition, whether coming off a win or loss, is stellar.

When his Packers won five consecutive openers from 2007-11, they set aside their high from a Week 1 victory successfully enough to go 4-1 in Week 2.

The last two years, with disappointing opening defeats to rival San Francisco, they've flushed those emotions and posted impressive victories the following week, over Chicago in 2012 and over Washington last year.

A third-straight season-opening loss last week, this one to the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, was tough to swallow on many fronts. Inside the walls of Lambeau Field, a ton of work was devoted to that game and it produced sub-par performances on both sides of the ball. Outside, none other than Sports Illustrated's Peter King had just published his prediction the Packers would win the Super Bowl, and the fan base was stoked for validation that never came.

Opening on a Thursday, the Packers had three extra days to process their frustration and shift their focus. It's a psychological task demanded of professionals, regardless of the fan chatter and media banter surrounding them, and the successful ones know how to accomplish it.

"I've been doing this for a while now," seven-year veteran guard Josh Sitton said. "You tend to lose games. It's the National Football League. It happens. I don't get really high or low about anything anymore. It is what it is. It's Week 1.

"We need to be better, but I'm not going to sit around and cry about it. You have 24 hours to celebrate a win and 24 hours to get over a loss. It's done and over with now."

Added cornerback Casey Hayward: "We know what we have to do."

This particular Week-2 game precedes the most important stretch of the season's first half. Next week begins the NFC North gauntlet for the Packers, with three division games in a span of 12 days – at Detroit, at Chicago and then home vs. Minnesota on a Thursday night.

Obviously, the Packers would much rather enter that divisional sequence at 1-1 than a borderline desperate 0-2, a mark they've posted under McCarthy only once, in his first season back in 2006.

"It's a long season. You have time to get your football team in tune," said special teams veteran Jarrett Bush, whose tenure with the team is the same length as McCarthy's. "You can't get too discouraged, and you just keep playing."

Given all that went into Seattle and what lies immediately ahead, McCarthy's mantra of moving on right away may carry more importance now than it ever has.

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