Green Bay Packers: Super Bowl hangover?


Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy confers with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Is there such a thing as a Super Bowl hangover?

If so, how long does it last?

I have felt that after the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010 have been suffering from a post-championship blues the past two seasons.

Of course, the Packers went 15-1 the very next year, so if they were Super Bowl drunk, that season masked it. But in watching that team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, I felt they may have been. During that post season we remember how the New York Giants came to Lambeau, and for the second time in five years, beat Green Bay en route to two of their own Super Bowl championships.

Then of course last season, the Packers went 11-5, won a playoff game in the first round, and then once again were beaten by a 49ers team that did the same thing the Giants did – they beat the Packers into submission physically.

Of course all but maybe two other franchises would be delighted to have that much success.

Johnny Jolly has been part of the mix in building a Packers team that is tougher and more physical. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports photograph

It was at that point Packers GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy set about changing the look (bigger, stronger, and meaner) of the Packers, in hopes of not allowing such a thing to happen again.

Though you may disagree, I feel the Super Bowl hangover is for real; but this season the Packers may be at a turning point – they seem hungry again, trying to win another one.

A new-found commitment to the running game speaks volumes about this team wanting to be more physical. The new additions – guys like Johnny Jolly and Eddie Lacy – have made both sides of the ball more physical. Getting healthy has also made a difference.  Jordy Nelson, Nick Perry, Andrew Quarless, Mike Daniels and Mike Neal are all physical football players who missed major time last season.

Since 1992, Green Bay has had two elite quarterbacks, but is two Super Bowls Championships and one runner-up finish enough during that span to show for it?

I am not taking anything for granted, and it has been a luxury for Packers fans to go into a game believing every single time (and legitimately) that the team has a chance to win. We have been very spoiled in that regard, but certainly not ‘spoiled’ by championships.

Between Brett Favre’s ugly playoff interceptions, Mike Sherman’s fourth-and-one (and fourth and 26) against Philly, all were heartbreakers.  The Jerry Rice non-called fumble that ushered in Terrell Owens; and the Rodgers’ facemask non-call against Arizona were all were disappointments as well.

Regardless, there were some championships in those seasons that were lost, and can never be recovered. I guess all we can say to that is ‘it is what it is’.

In 2013, the Packers seem poised to make another championship run, beginning this Sunday on the road against the most recent Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens (3-2). The Ravens are having some struggles of their own, most notably adjusting to the loss of some key personnel from their Super Bowl team of a year ago.

The Packers are not the darlings of the league any longer, that title belongs to the undefeated Denver Broncos. Green Bay is also flying under the radar in the NFC, with New Orleans the flavor of month thus far this year. I think the Pack prefers it this way. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers pretty much said that in training camp that they (Packers) prefers not being the front-runner in media coverage.

Certainly at 2-2, the Packers are not as high on the so called ‘experts’ board as in seasons past, but it’s looking like they are hunkering down, believing in themselves internally, and quietly just taking one game at a time. By the looks of it, they just may be the last team standing in the tough NFC Conference.