Aaron Rodgers is one of the keys to the Packers success.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph
It seems that as we get closer to training camp everyone has an opinion as to why the Packers have been so successful over the past few years.
Break-downs of the defense, offense, special teams and coaching litter the Internet.
I, however, have a different approach as to why the Packers have been one of the top teams since Mike McCarthy has taken over.
First, in order to understand my theory of success we need to compare them not to other NFL teams but to the Milwaukee Brewers. Two years ago when the Brewers made their postseason run they did so on the backs of two primary players and numerous key contributors. The Brewers had two primary stars in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder and personalities like Nyjer Morgan and Craig Counsell cementing the bench.
The chemistry that the team had that year propelled them to the National League Championship Series. Afterward, Prince left for big money from Detroit, Braun was plagued by PED accusations and Morgan and Counsel moved on.
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder provided the one-two punch that made the Brewers so successful a couple of seasons ago.
Since then the Brewers have stumbled to sub-par performances. The reason for this is that they no longer have multiple star players to build the team around and the role players who brought personality and a spark to the team are gone. Plus injuries have created a hole from which they have not been able to crawl.
What does this have to do with the Packers?
Well the comparison is what is important. The Packers have two star players in Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Both who have now been locked up in long-term deals – cementing the foundation that is necessary for a prolonged run at success. Secondly, they have continued to maintain key and valuable supporting pieces in the likes of guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Sam Shields and Tramon Williams and then the influx of current rookies Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy, and Jonathan Franklin who have bolstered the ranks.
Depth and more importantly solid key role players have continued to foster the necessary support that has sustained success for the Packers. When you compare this to the Brewers after their NLCS run, it is evident that the loss of Fielder and the lack of significant role payers in the rotation and in the field have caused the Brewers to become less than successful. If the Brewers would have been able to keep Fielder and Braun, I truly believe success would have continued. If you look at the fact that Detroit was able to secure Fielder, coupled with the play of Miguel Cabrera as he took the Triple Crown, it is no wonder why the Tigers have been successful while the Brewers have fallen apart.
Clay Matthews has been a key to the Green Bay Packers success. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
I believe that in order for a team to be successful, there needs to be at least two primary stars. In the case of the Packers you have Rodgers and Matthews (back in the 90s, you had Brett Favre and Reggie White). Then you include key pieces and characters who help to create the chemistry and environment that is conducive to winning. Most importantly, you jettison those players that can no longer contribute or factor in the long-term growth of the team.
When you use this overview for a team to have success and apply it to the other teams in the NFC North, no team has the same nucleus and supporting players that can sustain the type of success the Packers have.
The Vikings only have Adrian Peterson as their star, the Lions have Megatron, and the Bears – well, the only name that jumps out is Jay Cutler and he has not proven himself to be that elite player. If you take this one step further and you apply it to the teams that were successful in their post season runs last year, teams with multiple blue chip stars were the teams that had the most success.
So for the 2013 season I see the Packers winning the division based on the strength of their team. Yes it will be a battle and there needs to be continued improvement from the defense as a whole and the offensive line needs to protect Rodgers. Overall, the Packers will have a winning record and I hope that they can make a deep run into the playoffs and bring back another championship. In fact if you believe that history repeats itself, we will win the Super Bowl this year based on the fact that the last time we did so, the Chicago Blackhawks had won the NHL championship, just like they did this year (which does hurt when you are a Bruins fan).
Bring on the start of the season, let’s see if my theory holds true, and let’s say a prayer for the Brewers that they may be able to make something out of nothing.
Well, at least until training camp starts so our focus can turn on the Packers.
GO PACK GO!