Victory and playoff future just out of the Green Bay Packers' grasp

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers’ linebacker Andy Mulumba hobbled by a knee he sprained just moments earlier, raced – if it could be described that way – to cut off the edge and prevent 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick from gaining a first down that would position San Francisco to exit frigid Lambeau Field victorious.

Mulumba was close to catching Kaepernick, but with a bum knee the speedy 49ers quarterback was out his grasp. A play that was reminiscent of the 2013 Green Bay Packers’ season.

Team 93, as Packers’ Coach Mike McCarthy often referred to this year’s squad, was filled with  promise. Arguably the most talented offensive unit assembled during Mike McCarthy’s tenure.

For the first time in many years it seemed that not only would the Packers have a potent passing attack, but a running game as well. On the defensive side of the ball the line was big and there was depth at linebacker. The safety position looked to be the only real weak spot.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The loss Sunday to the 49ers was a gut punch to Packers Nation – and it hurts. In all likelihood it won’t feel better until someone bounces San Francisco out of the playoffs. But to be fair, the Packers were lucky to play in that game at all. After finishing 8-7-1 with a roster that was only a shadow of the opening day lineup it resembled a hospital ward rather than a football team. The Packers quite literally limped into the playoffs.

As a fan, I tip my cap to this team.

To fight to the finish against a 49ers team that was healthy and stocked with Pro Bowlers was commendable. They simply just did not have the horses to get the job done.

Where does Green Bay go from here?

Well, Packers Nation and most important Ted Thompson and company will have the next six months to sort that out. I would hope it begins with bigger and faster. It would also be nice to see a veteran or two that could hit the ground running.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

However, it comes to pass there needs to be a sense of urgency. Just three years ago with Aaron Rodgers in the prime of his career, NFL experts were calling the Packers a dynasty about to happen. Now those experts are whispering that Aaron Rodgers’ window of opportunity is closing, as teams like the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks and, of course, the 49ers are emerging.

I’m not yet ready to close the book on the Aaron Rodgers collecting a few more rings. But I think it is fair to say that Ted Thompson should consider adjusting his approach to assembling a roster.

Making the playoffs is nice, but eventually a habit of making an early exit will get old.

Watching the Andy Mulumbas’ of the world come up short will not satisfy the hunger of the Packers’ faithful.


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Tags: Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy Ted Thompson

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