Enough ‘rah-rah’, ‘they are better than that’, ‘ugly wins are still wins’ blather … the fact is that the Packers played one (1) complete game in the 2012 season. They beat the teams that they should have beaten (Indy the notable exception) based on talent alone, with the lone exception being at the Texans where the Packers played (IMO) their only complete game of the year. Much like the 2011 season, winning can hide deficiencies which can come back with a vengeance in the playoffs.
Setting aside the fact that the Packers gave up 579 yards (sic) of total offense to the 49ers, the Packers failed at almost all of their signature “critical points.” The most important of those is the ‘double-up’ at the half, Rodgers even talked about it in the run up to the SF game. A perfect opportunity was squandered on third and 8 when Kaepernick was able to scramble for a first down just after the two-minute warning.
What is truly infuriating is that the defense played like they didn’t know Colin Kaepernick would be a run threat. In fact, the scheme didn’t even seem to take that into account at all. Let’s see: LBs crashing down on the read option? Check. Total disregard for outside containment on the QB? Check. I thought those would have been emphasized in film study in the run-up to last weekend, but that game is over along with the 2012 season.
Living in the Philadelphia area, I am no stranger to disappointment, not for myself but for many friends. The depth of the disappointment is dependent on expectations and while those have been low around here lately, for a Packers fan things are different. MVP QBs don’t grow on trees, and the Packers have one. Not just a franchise QB, an MVP. There are exactly three of those in the NFL, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Rodgers. And while Rodgers is the youngest, they seem to be piddling away opportunities to win championships. No one can expect to top Tom Brady’s run of 3 out of 4 Super Bowls to start his run, but if Aaron Rodgers ends up like Peyton Manning (4 MVPs, 1 Super Bowl) it won’t be good enough.
Add to the mix that Roethlisberger and the other Manning have two Super Bowls each and Rodgers’ ‘legacy’ will negligible outside of Wisconsin without at least one more Super Bowl win.
The Packers stumbled through the 2012 season, and while they showed flashes of a great team, I never saw dominance outside of the Houston game (the meaningless game against the Titans doesn’t count). The regular season finale in Minneapolis should have opened my eyes; when they needed to, the defense couldn’t step up their game.
Another offseason has come too soon.