When most people think of the 2013 Green Bay Packers, they'll think of the injuries up and down the roster, the inadequacies on defense and a pair of losses to the San Francisco 49ers for the second year in a row. They'll think about this being the first year the Packers had gone without their starting quarterback for consecutive weeks since 1992, the remarkable production rookie running back Eddie Lacy provided and the continuing failure to defend the team's home-field. They'll remember 8-8-1. Coach Mike McCarthy said after the Packers' 23-20 loss to the 49ers in a wild-card game Sunday in frigid temperatures at Lambeau Field, he'll remember it for his team's resiliency. "I thanked 'em, proud of 'em, unique group," McCarthy said when asked what his message was to the team. "To coach. ... I don't know if we've had a team work as hard. Young. We had some inexperience. Guys had to play probably before they were ready. They stepped in there and went for it. "I thought the veteran leadership was very good this year. When I think of this team I think of the constant adversity that was thrown in front of them and appreciate the way they handled it." The number of injuries the Packers suffered was extraordinary, but not that far off from two of the past three years. It is something McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson will have to address in the off-season to see whether there is a reason for it. They'll have to address the youth on defense and whether they can be successful with Thompson's draft-and-develop philosophy and neglect of free agency. They'll have to make decisions on key free agents such as nose tackle B.J. Raji, wide receiver James Jones, cornerback Sam Shields, end Ryan Pickett and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Before all that happens, however, they'll have to come to grips with a lost season, one in which quarterback AaronRodgers missed seven games due to a broken collarbone, linebacker Clay Matthews broke his thumb twice and the safety play was as bad as it has been in many years. For now, some chose not to look that far into the future. "This is one of the funnest teams I've been on," guard Josh Sitton said. "We've grown really close. We all genuinely like each other. It's been a fun year. It's the closest team I've been a part of." One down, many to go: Lacy sat at his locker for the longest time as one teammate came and went. The season was over. He gave the Packers a rookie rushing record of 1,178 yards, plus 81 in the playoffs.
Mike McCarthy says he's proud of team battling through adversity
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Jan 6