We’re a month removed from the meltdown of the NFC Championship Game when the Green Bay Packers proved for 57 minutes that they were clearly the best team in the conference and possibly the best team in football.
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At least that’s what Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said yesterday.
And you probably won’t find a single Green Bay Packers fan who would disagree with him.
“I thought we were the best team in football when our season ended,” McCarthy said Thursday. “You have to prove it on the field obviously.”
The key phrase in his statement yesterday is you have to “prove it.”
On that mid-January day, the Packers failed in that respect – a fact that’s going to haunt McCarthy and the Packers players who were a part of that moment.
Micah Hyde, talking to reporters the day following the brutal loss, said it best:
"“I’ll say 30 years from now that I’ll feel like we were a better football team than they were. I think that’s a given. But the best team doesn’t always win.”"
Dec 8, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass to wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
There you have it in a nutshell – “the best team doesn’t always win …”
Now that we have all moved on as best we can, the excitement of the new year, a new season is beginning to slowly build.
Starting this weekend with the NFL Combine, we’ll begin to see the future. We’ll be watching the young players, the hungry soon-to-be-professional athletes who will be working out in front of us all – getting us dreaming about what could be instead of what has been.
For Packers administrators, coaches and us fans, this is the time to begin our slow recovery that will eventually get us back to the field of play come next July.
The recovery will be difficult and will have setbacks, but if Mike McCarthy was right in saying that the Green Bay Packers were the best team in football in 2014, then we are now ready to start considering the best way to build upon that foundation.
With the 2015 season, it’s time to prove it. It’s time for the Green Bay Packers to continue their domination on the field and make their run toward the Lombardi Trophy.
The pieces are in place, the players who made the 2014 season such a delight are in place.
Now it’s time for the coaches and bean counters to strap it up and assemble the unit that could be one of the greatest teams in pro football history.
McCarthy already thinks he has the best offense in league history … last year, they dominated; this year could be the same.
In 2014, the Packers were the number one scoring offense; the team was led by the league’s Most Valuable Player; that team had an offensive line that worked together seamlessly and kept their MVP QB upright for the greatest majority of time; the team finally had a running game that physically abused defenders and they had the wide receivers that not only got open, but made the huge plays time and again.
That 2014 Packers unit put together two straight 50-plus-point games, they scored almost at will and by the end of the season were firing on cue.
There’s that Championship Game that got in the way.
Nov 30, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the game against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
So, once again I reiterate that we are embarking on a new season … a time to start over; a time when everyone is equal. It’s time to prove, once again, that they are the best team in football.
It’s a long climb from here, but if there’s anyone with the fortitude and desire to do it, it’s Mike McCarthy. He had a championship in the palm of his hand and lost it, but even more important, three days later he was crushed by the death of his younger brother.
If there’s anything that can make a man sit up straight and understand the importance of life and carrying on … it’s that.
“If we could play at this level of offense from here on in, it will be the best offense pro football has seen,” McCarthy said.
It’s time to prove it.