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Green Bay Packers good, but want to be great

Oct. 2, 2011
 

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Packers-Broncos postgame analysis: Kareem Copeland and Mike Vandermause talk about Aaron Rodgers' masterful direction of the Packers' dynamic offense and a defense that keeps bending but not breaking.
This year's Green Bay Packers aspire to the standards set by the 1961 NFL championship team, which was honored at halftime of Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. Front row, from left, John Roach, Jim Taylor, Tom Moore, Jesse Whittenton, Lee Folkins. Back row, from left, Willie Davis, Dale Hackbart, Forrest Gregg, Boyd Dowler, Paul Hornung, Ben Davidson, Gary Knafelc, Nelson Toburen, Jerry Kramer, Bob Skoronski and Fuzzy Thurston. Corey Wilson/Press-Gazette

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Donald Driver has an appreciation for Green Bay Packers history. The 13-year veteran receiver has watched old films of the Glory Years during Vince Lombardi’s coaching tenure and knows all about greatness.

That’s why Driver doesn’t want to settle for winning just one Super Bowl championship. He isn’t satisfied that the Packers are off to a 4-0 start for just the third time in the past 45 years. He has no plans to rest on the laurels of the Packers’ most recent triumph, a 49-23 thrashing of the badly overmatched Denver Broncos Sunday.

“We can be one of those great teams,” Driver said. “When they talk about those Vince Lombardi teams, they talk about how great those teams were. They don’t talk about how good those teams were.”

Driver and his teammates only needed to look around at Lambeau Field to be reminded of the Packers’ storied past. Members of the Packers’ 1961 championship team were honored at halftime, and that club opened the floodgates with the first of five titles under Lombardi.

Those are the kind of standards Driver aspires to, and he’s not alone in the Packers locker room. There was no sense of contentment in pummeling the Broncos because that’s what the Packers were supposed to do.

“I feel we got a win today but I don’t feel any complacency in here,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “Everyone I talk to, the only thing you hear ’em say is, ‘We can get better, we can get better.’ So that’s definitely a good sign.”

Offensively, the Packers were a well-oiled, finely-tuned machine against the Broncos. They piled up 507 total yards, Aaron Rodgers threw for a career-high 408 yards, and their six offensive touchdowns seemed effortless. It left the Broncos shell-shocked and in awe.

“They played a great game and they’re a great team,” Denver safety Rahim Moore said. “Me personally, that’s probably the best team I’ve ever played against in my life.”

Of course, Moore is a rookie and has limited NFL exposure so his words shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Besides, the Packers aren’t fishing for compliments. They have high standards but are careful not to get too full of themselves.

“I think Coach (Mike) McCarthy, he’s the rock, and one thing he tells us is don’t believe the hype,” Driver said. “We have a lot more work to do.”

The Packers are one of only two unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL, so the hype is just getting started.

But Rodgers, despite passing for four touchdowns and running for two more, refused to say the Packers’ offense was unstoppable. Technically he was correct, because the Packers were forced to punt once against the Broncos. But tight end Jermichael Finley’s claim in training camp that the Packers should score every time they touch the ball isn’t too far off the mark.

The Packers are averaging 37 points, a team record for the first four games of the season. They have never in their history had more receiving weapons, and they still have managed to average more than 100 yards per game rushing.

This much Rodgers will admit: “I just think we’re in a good rhythm right now.”

But despite the blowout victory, McCarthy will attempt to give his team a reality check in the film room this week. There were the two interceptions caused by tipped passes. There’s the defense allowing a few too many big plays and 384 total yards. There was a failed fourth-and-1 attempt early in the game.

“We need to improve as a team,” McCarthy. said “You can just see it in our locker room. Guys are happy that we’re 4-0 but we’re not where we want to be as far as our quality of play.”

In other words, the Packers won’t settle for being good when the potential for greatness exists.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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