Now that the dust has settled and everyone has ranted and raved about what ails the Green Bay Packers and whose heads need to be served up on a giant platter, I think it is time to take a more sensible and logical approach to the season in review.
What went well. In the end, all that mattered was that we had to beat the Chicago Bears for the division crown.
It is that simple.
You have to take care of things within your own division first. After all that happened, to have the opportunity (no matter how it came to be) to take a third division title in a row and do it against the Bears on their home field is great, wonderful and amazing.
Seriously, we got to stick it to the Bears again. Let’s see now, that is one NFC Championship and one NFC North Division title won on their turf. Then as a bonus the Bears signed Jay “Pick-six, put me in a tutu” Cutler to a long-term contract, ensuring more success for the Pack for years to come!
The other major bonus of the year was the emergence of a little known running back named Eddie Lacy. He played for some no named school….what was it? Alabama-something?
Team after team passed on him because he had a toenail issue. Boy I bet those teams are patting themselves on the back as Eddie “THE BEAST” is now on his way to taking home every Rookie of the Year award and is going to the Pro Bowl.
So looking ahead, no matter who comes or goes next year on the offense, the Packers are primed to be a serious offensive machine because we have two players with chips on their shoulders and something to prove. Aaron Rogers and Lacy.
Add to that a mix of Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Jarrett Boykin, there is not a team that I can think of that can match that firepower. I was also impressed with the solid play of the offensive line for the course of the year and the way Mason Crosby bounced back to prove that he has what it takes to kick in the NFL (I take back all the nasty things I wrote last year).
Now we move on to the issues of the season. For me it boiled down to a few hundred or so things. First the injuries. You can’t be successful if the majority of your team is on the injured reserve list or in the trainers’ room.
Yes, I understand that injuries are a part of the game and every team has to overcome those issues, but this team seemed to get hit hard and at all the wrong times. Why is that? And what can be done to prevent the Packers from becoming another MASH unit next season?
Secondly – defensively, this team lacked depth and experience. To lose the defensive players that the team did and have to rely on what was left, it leaves no doubt as to why defensively this team stunk. Also, fundamentally, the defense was horrible. Game after game and time after time we watched poor tackling, missed assignments and more poor tackling. It doomed this defense. That then brings us to the defensive scheme that was in place.
Now I will admit that I called for the head of Dom Capers and I still believe that his defensive scheme does not set this team up for success. I do not believe that he has the necessary skills to adjust to and adapt to the offensive powers that torched us this past season. This defense cannot rely on creating turnovers to stop the opposition. This defense needs to have a killer instinct and more importantly, execute the fundamental aspects of football – contain and tackle.
The defense needs a coordinator who can establish a basic plan and have it executed as well as adapt to the game day situations that haunted us all season. I personally was wishing that Capers would be let go because I do not think he is capable of doing what is needed to turn the defense around and that Kevin Greene would replace him. Now I know that seemed like a long shot since he had no experience, but I loved the fire and passion that Greene brought to the game.
Of course those hopes were dashed when he decided to leave the team. Granted, I don’t fault him for choosing his family first, but I really think he had what it took to mastermind the resurgence of this defense. Also, the defense needs more impact players. Why is our offense so good?
Well that is simple – you have multiple impact players. Starting with an MVP and a Rookie of the Year, supplemented with players who on any given day can be a difference-maker. The defense has Clay Matthews, when he is healthy. That is it. I strongly support A.J. Hawk and feel that he does an excellent job as a field general and is consistent in his play, but his consistency and Matthews are not enough to supplement the lack of skill and power on the defense.
Defense wins championships. The bend-don’t-break mentality of this defense is not going to be enough to bring home another Lombardi Trophy. I want to see a defense that when it steps on the field, the other team knows that they will have to fight for every yard or die trying. Finally, the last issue falls on the shoulders of Ted Thompson. I have and continue to be a strong supporter of TT.
But, with that being said, he needs to step it up this off-season. He needs to sign some solid defensive help. The draft is not going to provide us with what we need to create a defense that can win games. First, take stock of what we have on the defensive side of the ball and decide if it’s worth the money. B.J. Raji and Johnny Jolly are good players, but are they worth the money? What about Sam Shields?
Is he a difference-maker? Secondly, who is out there and is the risk versus reward worth it when it comes to signing them? Can a free agent make the type of impact that this team needs? Will next year be a success? I believe so. But then we have to determine what is the definition of success?
Winning the NFC North is good, but regaining control of Lambeau Field in the playoffs and beating the likes of San Francisco and Seattle to win in the playoffs has to be the next step, and unless Thompson addresses the defensive needs of this team and Dom Capers can pull it together, I think we will hear a lot of the same things next year and that is not going to make things any better.
Thus, as the season winds down and we look forward to the draft, I think back to something that I wrote last year and that was in the end only one team can be successful each year. So enjoy this season for what it was and let’s hope next year we are the one!
GO! PACK! GO!