Packers assistant coach Joe Philbin is going to increase the intensity of his defense as they head into the playoffs
The Green Bay Packers are scheduled to practice Tuesday for the first time this spring, in an attempt to get its players primed for the stretch run.
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The Packers are coming off a 1-6-1 start that cost Mike McCarthy his job, but they finished 6-2 to secure a playoff berth and a head-to-head playoff victory over Chicago.
Interim coach Joe Philbin, who was hired following McCarthy’s firing, and the players will head into the postseason on a high. While the Packers will head into the postseason as a wild card with the fifth-easiest seed, Philbin knows they have to keep an even keel.
“As you know, it was just yesterday that it started for us,” Philbin said on a conference call Friday. “That’s our focus and that’s where we’re going to stay.
“We’ve got some guys that are coming back from injury. We’ve got some guys that are playing really well. We’ve got a tough road that we’re going to have to travel.”
McCarthy was fired a day after Green Bay lost to Chicago 30-17, ending a streak of six straight playoff appearances. McCarthy reportedly complained about players quitting on him following that loss.
The team has remained fairly quiet about what went wrong in the first half of the season. General manager Brian Gutekunst and Philbin have made numerous moves in the past few weeks, including releasing cornerback Davon House and LB Nick Perry, signing veteran CB Nnamdi Asomugha and promoting linebackers coach Kevin Greene to defensive coordinator.
The Packers have three picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft.
“The guys who came in and got hurt and were lost, hopefully some of those guys, they can make a significant impact and contribute,” Philbin said. “That’s the most important thing at this point.”
The addition of Greene at defensive coordinator has Philbin feeling good. He had Green as his defensive coordinator in Miami during 2008 and 2009.
Green didn’t get a chance to coach against Philbin when his Dolphins made it to the Super Bowl during Philbin’s final year.
“We didn’t get to compete, though,” Philbin said. “It was a different day, different circumstances.”
With all the new faces on defense, Philbin can’t predict which players will contribute to the playoffs.
A year ago, this time of year, the Packers defense struggled to get off the field. This year, Green Bay ranked 14th in scoring defense before its week 17 playoff win.
“With the personnel we have, we’ve got a lot of different players that can have an impact,” Philbin said. “But I think it’s the team that we have that can handle the things that happen on and off the field, the mental and physical demands.”
For all the decisions that Gutekunst and Philbin have had to make on the roster, the Packers coach said he expects to stay the course.
“The greatest way to settle things down is just to play the game,” Philbin said. “We’ve done that a bunch of times. I’m not a change guy. I want to be prepared for the week of the game.”