GREEN BAY – The Packers’ regular-season home opener against the Minnesota Vikings is almost here.
And with it comes the unveiling of several new game entertainment elements the team has installed to help create the best home-field advantage possible at Lambeau Field this year.
Earlier this week, the Packers announced initiatives ranging from enhanced video board prompts and new music to numerous Packers players appearing on the video boards to remind fans to get loud and stand up on defense, especially on third downs, and to stay quiet and seated when the offense is at work.
Aaron Rodgers has practically as much experience at Lambeau Field as any employee in the building. With his 15th NFL season now underway, the two-time MVP quarterback is excited and optimistic about the atmosphere awaiting the team in 2019.
“My only ask is that we don’t do the wave when we’re on offense. Other than that, man, be as loud as you want from the start,” said Rodgers with a smile, while addressing reporters at his locker earlier this week.
“We need it. We’ve been rolling here over the years in stretches and it’s a tough place to play, especially late in the season and in the playoffs when we’ve got the temperature and the crowd going.”
The Packers are looking to carry that energy from September into well into winter, which is what helped inspire this year’s game entertainment theme of “Embracing the Frozen Tundra.”
During critical defensive situations, the Packers are encouraging fans to stand and be as loud as possible. Head Coach Matt LaFleur used last week’s atmosphere at Soldier Field as an example, beginning with Bears fans customarily cheering throughout Jim Cornelison’s rendition of the national anthem.
The Packers plan to stay true to their own time-honored traditions such as ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ and ‘Bang the Drum All Day,’ but also believe there’s an opportunity to innovate and inspire those in attendance with a few new strategies.
“The more you can get the fans involved, it definitely (helps),” LaFleur said. “Anybody that was there last week in Chicago could feel that. You could feel that from the opening, from pregame. It felt like it had a playoff-type feel to it. … We knew that that type of environment is challenging on offenses. That's what we want to get here.”
After experimenting with new elements during the preseason, the Packers are excited to roll out their plans to take Lambeau Field’s competitive environment to the next level this Sunday against the Vikings.
The objective is to make life as difficult as possible on the opposing offense this year, especially in critical third-down situations or when the game is on the line.
Although it’s only Week 2, the stakes are high for the Packers. The Vikings game not only represents Green Bay’s shot at starting the season 2-0 for the first time since 2015, but also a chance to christen the dawn of the LaFleur Era with back-to-back NFC North victories.
“I just think it needs to be as loud as possible,” defensive lineman Kenny Clark said. “This is a big game, whether people believe it or not. It’s a huge for our team, for the division. We need this win and the crowd is going to play a huge part of it, especially getting Kirk Cousins and the offensive line to communicate differently, get them off their game a little bit and slow their process down. Because when you come to Lambeau, you want to have a home-field advantage.”
The Packers toyed around with potentially dimming and flashing the lights inside the stadium bowl after touchdowns but the team doesn’t have another evening game until Green Bay hosts Philadelphia on Thursday Night Football later this month.
Rodgers understands it can be tough for fans to get rowdy with early starts, but he’s confident the energy will be there Sunday. And if somebody stands to shout and support when the defense is in need of a key stop, Rodgers hopes the fans in that section don’t ridicule that person but rather join along on the antics.
“Twelve o’clock games are always a little different because everybody’s kind of waking up and getting going. It’s an earlier start,” Rodgers said. “I love the lights dimmed for night games, hopefully we can get that in Week 4, but yeah, we’ve got a great home-field advantage, a great fan base. The louder, the better.”