Oct 18, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones (89) celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Oakland Raiders 30-20 to raise their regular season record to 10-4 – and on top of it, the team qualified once again for the playoffs.
In fact, with a fifth straight NFC North Division title within sight, this team will head to the playoffs for the seventh straight season … pretty impressive, right?
Well, don’t tell that to the average Packers fan who has been watching the 2015 Green Bay Packers at a sideways glance.
This is a team that continues to win – despite losing key players like Jordy Nelson, Ty Montgomery and Corey Linsley to injury. The team continues to be playoff-bound, despite losing four of five over the course of the past month. The team continues to win despite not having an identity to its offense, a hot and cold defense and special teams that just aren’t that special.
This team wins … it’s a credit to the organization from the top down; it’s a credit to the coaching and scouting staff; it’s a credit to the high bar the fans have set for their team.
They love it when Aaron Rodgers throws for 300 yards, four touchdowns and a QB rating on the north side of 100. They love it when this storied franchise continues to beat the large market teams and continues to be included in the Super Bowl discussion year-in and year-out.
But for this 2015 edition, there have been huge warts that have been exposed. The team lost three heartbreakers in the final seconds during November and then followed those losses up with a tragic and disappointing performance in Detroit three weeks ago.
For 60 minutes the Packers were behind and had it not been for a questionable facemask penalty on the game’s last play, the Packers would have at least five losses.
Nov 26, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers fans wear gear in support of Brett Favre during warmups prior to the NFL game against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Instead, the officials and the Lions gave Aaron Rodgers one last chance … and we all know what happened.
Many felt that game was a turning point for the Packers.
And while it surely gave Green Bay a needed shot in the arm, it has been far from a turning point.
Though the Packers have won three straight, don’t ask Packers fans about this team – they will come back with the fact that the offense is simply terrible; there’s no consistent run game, the receivers and the QB are on different planets and the defense is the only thing keeping them in games.
In other words, the sky is falling in Green Bay.
But let’s take a gander across the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers – the Minnesota Vikings and their fans are ecstatic. They’ve won nine games and Teddy Bridgewater is the next best thing to come along since Bud Grant.
The Vikings have had plenty of ups and downs – and, God, I hate saying this – and their fans are still ecstatic.
Known as the land of fickle fans who bail from their bandwagons faster than Steve Harvey off of the Miss Universe stage, Minnesota Vikings fans are feeling it this year.
Nov 30, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers fans hold up signs during the game against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 26-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
After years of suffering, with much of it coming at the hands of the Packers, this new breed of Vikings fan seems to have it together – rooting for their team through thick and thin.
Yes, Packers fans – you can learn something from these Vikings fans.
In fact, Packers fans these days are starting to remind me of the Vikings fans of the past.
This can’t be happening, but it’s happening because this new breed of Packers fans have known nothing but winning. They’ve come to expect that the Packers will win by 20 points and that Aaron Rodgers will be Superman-like.
But when it doesn’t happen, such as what we’re experiencing now, we need to get a grip.
The Packers still lead the NFC North Division; they’ve got the head-to-head tie-breaker with second place Minnesota; and they’ve won 10 games once again.
The sky is not falling, but yes this Packers team has issues.
However, all one needs to do is look around the league … and realize that this team may not be great, but they continue to win and continue to be relevant.
The fans are the ones who need to reel it in and get over themselves.
The Packers are in the playoffs once again and once the tournament begins, anything can happen.
Stop being like the Vikings fans of old, Packers fans.
Stop looking at the world through green and gold lenses.
Stop whining about the fact that the offense is struggling.
Stop giving Packers fans a bad name.
In the words of a famous Green Bay statesman: R-E-L-A-X.
This team will come around; now the fans must do the same.
Take a lesson from the win-hungry Minnesota Viking fans of 2015 … enjoy it while you can.