After the thrashing the Green Bay Packers took on Sunday in New York by the Giants one has to wonder if the Packers are a victim of their own success.
Is the culture within the Packers locker room one in which they believe they can simply show up and win? That’s hard to say, a player, or a coach for that matter would never admit to that. However, it does seem that this Packers team is a little low on intensity.
Of the 11 games this season, there are only two games in which they took the field with an unmatched level of fire and passion. The first being the game versus the Bears at Lambeau, and the second being the Sunday night game in Houston against the Texans. The Bears, well, they are the historic rival, every Packers team is up for those games. On national television against Houston the Packers had their backs against the wall coming off a humbling loss to the Colts. They had good reason to be hungry and it showed, easily defeating a good Houston team 42-24.
Following the victory in Houston the Packers went on to win their next four games. But none of the teams they beat are contenders, and they did not thoroughly handle any of them. In fact, against the worst team in the league, the Jacksonville Jaguars, they squeaked out a victory.
The Packers are a good team. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the football. It is true they have been hit pretty hard by the injury bug. But they are regarded as one of the deepest teams in the league, and quite frankly injuries are a part the game.
Think back to 2010, the Packers went on a “magic carpet ride” run to win the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was magic because this, too, was a team that was made thin by injuries. They played inspired and that was the difference-maker.
To follow up the Super Bowl season they began the 2011 campaign 13-0 and went on to finish 15-1. It all seemed too easy until the Packers met the Giants at Lambeau in the first round divisional playoff game. The Packers, like they did this past Sunday, came out flat. On the contrary, in both games the Giants came out hungry and whooped the Packers handedly.
The Packers, as a team, do not come off as arrogant. Actually quite the opposite. They seem humble and very disciplined. However, they have been successful, and it seems they know they have talent. James Jones told Bill Michaels of Bill Michael’s Sports in the week following the Colts loss, “There’s a lot of talent on this team. We won a Super Bowl and not many guys have changed.” He went on to say, “I don’t want to take away from our opponents but we’ve got too many things to point to that we’ve done to ourselves, to get us beat. Dropped balls, missed blocks, missed tackles, bad passes, kicks I mean all of it, we’re all to blame. If we all do our jobs, we win those games.”
On one hand, Jones gives the impression that the Packers need to be accountable for their failings. But on the other, he does seem to dismiss the capabilities of their opponents and think highly of their own abilities. Not to undervalue confidence, but Jones’ comments have a hint of superiority to them.
Following the loss to the Giants there was a lot of chatter in the Packers locker room concerning their flat start to the game and lack of energy. Randall Cobb was adamant in stating, “I think the biggest thing is that we have to come out and play with some emotion.I feel like our care-level just wasn’t there tonight. I don’t know how else to put it.”
Aaron Rodgers reflected on last year’s loss to the Chiefs which ended their hopes of an undefeated season. He said, “You win five in a row and everybody’s happy, but there’s often things, like I said last year during the run, there’s things that kind of go under the radar that need to be handled. Sometimes it takes a loss to handle those things.”
Rodgers was vague in what he said.
But Cobb was not.
Given their overall play this season and highlighted by the loss to the Giants the Packers seem to be on coast and caught in a comfort zone.
They are a good team; most would agree one of the best. But in the NFL there is no room for a superiority complex. The Packers are without a number of top-notch players due to injuries. With that there is a drop in talent.
That gap needs to be bridged with intensity and hunger.
Those intangibles seem to be under the radar – a fact to which Rodgers alluded.