When you are in the midst of an endeavor and working furiously to accomplish a goal it’s often the case that a few opportunities get missed and some undesirables get swept under the rug. The risk of failure is always at hand. But there is that little voice that says just keep pushing forward, this is the one that drowns out the other voice, the one that fears failure. You’re determined and optimistic, confident that your talent and maybe a little luck will enable you to come out on top.
Saturday night fears of failure were realized as the Packers got stomped by the 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoff game. The opportunities that got missed and the things that got swept under the rug over the course of the 16 game NFL season were revealed for everyone to see. The Packers found out that they were not as talented as they thought and like so many times this season they were not very lucky.
The Packers are a better team than they demonstrated Saturday evening. But to consider them one of the elite teams in the NFL is no longer possible. The 49ers on Saturday were simply bigger, faster, stronger and smarter. San Francisco is the team to beat. But they were not the only team to expose the Packers’ weaknesses throughout the course of the season.
Green Bay was not the dominating team that they were during the 2011 regular season. They played several close games and lost a number of games that they should have won. At times they faltered because they seemed to approach games like they just simply needed to show up to win. They also discovered that Aaron Rodgers and his wide receiver arsenal was not all that was needed to be successful.
Their prolific passing attack, although formidable, was not as dictating as it was the year previous. Despite injuries to Greg Jennings and Cedric Benson early on they still had a number of playmakers. What they lacked was pass protection on offense and speed, mean and bulk on defense.
It is clear now that General Manager Ted Thompson missed opportunities to upgrade the offensive line. Despite all their playmakers Aaron Rodgers was continually under duress and often unable to get the ball into the able hands of Cobb, Finley, Nelson, Jennings, and so on. Thompson also missed the opportunity to bring speed, mean and bulk to the defense. Granted, injuries took a toll on the defense. But the Packers can no longer expect to win by simply outscoring their opponents. They need a defense that can take their opponent out of the game.
Green Bay is not a media market like say New York where the smallest of issues become big issues faster than an ill-timed Jermichael Finley tweet. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t distractions inside the Packers locker room. The Packers did try to sweep a few things under the rug.
The biggest being how to handle Donald Driver. Coach McCarthy said a number of times that Driver was a class guy and handled his diminished playing time like a professional. Donald Driver playing or not playing on Saturday had no real consequence on the outcome of the game. But activating him for the NFC Divisional Playoff game simply because it could be his last NFL game or last game as a Packer has got to have some detrimental effects on the psyche of the team. Kind of comes across as a losing mentality. Let’s hope that they find the right way to address Charles Woodson as he enters the twilight of his career.
The other distraction was Greg Jennings. He wasn’t obnoxious in his complaints about his contract. But he was repetitive in his remarks. He came across as putting his own interests in front of the team. He especially did this at the end of the season and into playoffs. It was off putting to fans and one would guess more than one of his teammates were rubbed the wrong way by his remarks.
An NFL team as they make their way through a season in some regards can be a reflection of day-to-day life. No one sets out to fail necessarily. The team evaluates their resources and then puts together a plan to succeed. They figure, well the situation may not be perfect but with some hard work and some luck things just might go their way. Calculated guesses are made that sometimes work. When they do heroes are born. When they don’t, goats are brought to life instead.
As it goes, maybe next year, you win some you lose some.