On a sad day at 1265 Lombardi Avenue, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman met with the media Sunday to discuss the state of the Green Bay Packers heading into a Week 17 match-up with the Chicago Bears.
Although the outcome of next Sunday's game won't have any affect on the Packers' postseason standing - they have locked up the number three seed in the NFC Playoffs and will face the second Wild Card team in a home playoff two weekends from now - Sherman was adamant the rematch of Week 2's home loss to the Bears will definitely carry plenty of meaning.
"I don't think there's ever a game that means nothing," Sherman said. "I think every game means something. How you play, how you prepare - I don't think there's ever a game that means nothing."
If anyone was of the mindset that the regular season finale can't affect what the Packers will do in the postseason, the coach was quick to point out what happened to the Denver Broncos when they were faced with a similar situation a year ago coming into Lambeau Field for a "meaningless" Week 17 game.
Having already locked up a playoff spot, the Broncos fielded a skeleton crew in a blowout loss to the Packers. Denver was unable to regain any momentum the next week and the Broncos were forced out of the postseason seven days later with a loss at Indianapolis.
"Last year, we were playing our last ballgame and Denver came in here to play a similar ballgame like that," said Sherman. I don't know if it benefited their team that they didn't play their guys in that ballgame. So, I think every game means something. Maybe the score doesn't mean anything, but the game does."
Sherman pointed out that his team will have plenty of things to work on when they return to the practice field Wednesday following an extended four-day Christmas rest period.
"We're not exactly playing at an all-time level," said Sherman. "We have to make some improvement in practice this week, and in this game coming up continue to get better.
"I think there is a momentum factor involved that we have to definitely get going and keep going."
Sherman has at least one thing in particular that he will have his defense focusing on during their week of preparation. He was far from pleased with his team's tackling performance Friday in their division-clinching win over the Minnesota Vikings.
"I don't think we're a bad tackling team necessarily, but we were the other day," the coach said. "So that's something that we will work on and have drills for, because I don't want to go into this game or any other game with that shoddy of tackling."
The coach said the players will be put through a specific regimen to improve the areas he feels they've been lacking.
"We have a tackling circuit that we do in practice whenever we get to a point where we have a situation like we had the other day," he said. "We put them through a tackling circuit and practice the fundamentals of tackling.
"Whenever we have an issue - whether it's ball security, penalties, tackling - we're going to address it and it's a point of emphasis that week and maybe the week after that until we're sure it's gone away."
It's safe to say that Sherman and his staff will have plenty for their team to work on heading into their last game of the regular season. And if they have any trouble reminding the players just what's at stake when they head into Soldier Field next weekend, Sherman can just point back to a sunny Sunday afternoon in September.
"I don't think so because they kicked our butt last time they were here," Sherman responded when asked if he thought he would have trouble motivating his team for the game against the Bears.
"They kicked our butt on our home field in our home opener. I think there will be some motivation there. I don't think that will be a problem."