So it has come to pass on this Conference Championship Sunday, that the tide has turned in Green Bay Packers land. Not only is the team too soft to play smash mouth football, but the fans are too soft too.
Bob McGinn, over at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote an in-depth article detailing how this team has become soft and has lost its edge. It is a good read and is resonating with many fans based on what I saw in the comments section.
So the two questions that arise would of course be, are the Packers too soft and have the Lambeau faithful lost their heart?
I am not, nor will I ever be such a technical fan or writer that I am willing to break down the plays and statistics to support the grades a team deserves or pinpoint the failures. I look at the emotional picture, the feelings derived from the game. So to answer if this team is soft, I look back at what I saw over the past season. Was there an edge when they played? Yes and no.
It may seem like a copout but when the starters were in and we did not have the injuries, I felt that there was an aggressiveness to this team. But as the season unraveled with injuries, and younger players were inserted, I felt that the smash mouth, aggressiveness began to decline.
On the defensive side of the ball, the loss of Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson took away two of the hardest hitters on the team, both physically and emotionally. There was nobody on the line or in the secondary that could match the missing intensity of these two players. There was a lack of swag that was apparent in the Super Bowl. The defense that year had an identity. This year there was no identity and I would blame that on a lack of continuity and senior leadership.
The rookies and first year players stepped up best they could under the circumstances and played admirably, but it was not enough to create that environment of intimidation and respect that comes with smash mouth football and leads to other teams respecting us.
Offensively, the lack of a line, a running game and the inability to stretch the field prevented Aaron Rodgers and the offense from developing a rhythm or even an identity. There was some attitude here and there during the course of games, but as hard as it is to admit, it was not there enough to establish that dominance and aggressiveness. Think back … do you really think that there were any teams that really feared playing us? I don’t think so.
So what does the team need to do? I would first say let’s see what happens with a team that is truly healthy for the majority of the season. It is easy to point fingers after the fact, but considering all that this team went through, the end result was more than most teams would have been able to accomplish. What would have been different if both sides of the ball would have had the time to establish their identity? It is hard to say but I think as a fan we need to be fair and objective in analyzing what happened.
Then there is the second point he brought up. The one thing we have control over and that is the environment that we as fans create. So does Lambeau Field lack the intensity and edge that other stadiums have. Is it a place where other teams fear playing at? To be honest I cannot answer this question. I did not make it to any games this year so I can’t constructively comment on what may or may not have been.
I do know this though, it is not close to being the twelfth man as Seattle has or anything like the Raider Nation. Granted we are Lambeau and we are much more different in our style and attitude, but can we change? Do we need to change to bring another dimension to what “OUR” team offers. I am not saying that we all become rude, obnoxious, screaming jerks. But do we as fans need to up our game and become a force that needs to intimidate and instill some fear in other teams and provide that home field jolt for our team? Are the fans in the stands there to be seen for social purposes only or are they there to make a difference?
So I pose this question to all of you who have gone to games this past season, were more people there to be seen or were they there to be heard and make a difference?
Secondly, if we need to Take Back the Tundra, what do we need to do? I am going to take this on as my battle cry. From now until when the fans are able to once again stand in front of this team and make a difference, I am going to reach out to all of you for your thoughts, your inspiration and your energy. Tell me what we need to do and together we will energize and amplify Lambeau Field, for our battle has not ended, rather it has just begun.
To quote one of the most dynamic minds of our time, Bluto, from Animal House, “What? Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell No! And it ain’t over now. ‘Cause when the goin’ gets tough…The tough get goin’! Who’s with me? Let’s go!”
LETS TAKE BACK THE TUNDRA.