May. 30, 2016
Before we all overreact a little bit too much about the Packers, remember what the NFC was supposed to look like across the entire landscape? It was a five way race to Houston, between Green Bay, Seattle, Arizona, Minnesota and Carolina, and now, the only team who doesn't look like a complete shell of itself is Seattle. Arizona and Carolina struggled out of the gate, Minnesota and Green Bay have both tumbled very , very hard lately. Seattle is the only team in a playoff position, and they are still only 5-2-1 with a road game at New England. They could easily be 5-3-1. Right now, the playoff spots belong to Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit, New York (Giants) and Washington.
However, that is not an excuse for the Packers to struggle, it is even more of a reason that Green Bay should be running away with the NFC in what could have been a predestined rematch with Seattle for a trip to Houston. And, none of those teams were in the playoffs in 2011 with a winning record (Seattle won the division at 7-9) when Green Bay last won the Super Bowl. And ever since that Super Bowl victory, expectations have been sky high in Green Bay, and they have been for a lot longer than in Carolina or Arizona. It's time for a change in Titletown, but I don't think there will be one.
Ted Thompson is nearing the end of his career anyways, but he has shown stubbornness time and time again, with his total, sometimes blindsided, belief in his players, his belief in his system, his belief in Dom Capers, and his belief in not using free agency. Ever since the Super Bowl, it has been obvious that the Packers don't play defense, and once Peyton Manning went down with the spinal injury, we saw what happened to the Colts. Our offense was outstanding that year, but defensively we were lackadaisical. I had a fear start to grow after the Giants loss that we were literally just an Aaron Rodgers injury away from irrelevancy, and that maybe what Thompson does isn't that impressive. The only thing impressive was the fall Rodgers took in the 2005 draft.
Well, I got my fear realized during Sunday Night Football, and OLB Shea McClellin hit Aaron Rodgers hard for a sack, and broke his collarbone. In came Seneca Wallace, and out came what I predicted would happen. The Packers had completely collapsed, and if not for a miracle comeback in Dallas and a tie against the Vikings, Green Bay would not have made the playoffs. Maybe that's a bad thing, because then people would have realized that we need more talent on the team. In other words, Packers fans that I know still believed in Thompson, McCarthy, Capers, and the system.
2014 hit, and it looked like all was well with the Packers. They made the NFC championship, to lose to Seattle eventually, and bowed out after blowing the game. In 2015, the Packers started 6-0, but outside of the Kansas City Chiefs blowout win, they seemed off. The offense was fading, and although many blamed the Jordy Nelson injury, this season proved that not to be true. The truth is, the Packers have a porous defense, and are starting to let experience make them stubborn in the process. It's what happened in the 2002-2004 Packers, when Mike Sherman was GM and coach, and it's starting to happen again now. Unless you are Bill Belichick, you will be figured out eventually. And it's time to do a quick reset and move forward.
This is as good of a time as any, as the Packers have a lot of key free agents, including G TJ Lang, RB Eddie Lacy, OLB Julius Peppers, C JC Tretter, and OLB Nick Perry. It's time for Green Bay to shed off the salary, start looking for talent elsewhere, and rebuild for a final 2-3 years of a push for another Super Bowl before Rodgers eventually retires. We need change, because frankly we have been figured out across the league, and Aaron will not be around forever. And, what are the chances that a great replacement comes along again, like he was for Brett Favre? It won't happen right away, and there's a possibility we may never have a Hall of Fame QB again.
I don't mean to make this dark day when the Tennessee Titans have a better record than us look dimmer, but it's the truth. Eliot Wolf has been waiting in the wings for a while now, and it may be time for a changing of the guard, and a quick 1-2 seasons of reloading. I know a lot of you out there think there is no coach as good as Mike McCarthy, but did anybody really think that Gary Kubiak would put Denver over the top and not John Fox? If you said yes, you lied to yourself. And look at what John Fox still has yet to accomplish in Chicago.
As far as who could be coach, I have to think that maybe a defensive mastermind is the way to go since you already have Aaron Rodgers. Defensive coordinators such as Matt Patricia (New England) or Sean McDermott (Carolina) come to mind, or maybe a Les Miles (formerly LSU) or David Shaw (Stanford). Heck, maybe we can pry away Nick Saban from Alabama, and I know Saban is completely fine there, but almost every coach offered would have to think twice about it. Winning a Super Bowl in Green Bay that already has Aaron Rodgers is more than tempting, but I think the first four options are much more realistic. I'd like Matt Patricia the most, but that's just my opinion. Anyways, we are in for tough times, but ultimately we will have a chance again to get to the promised land.