For those readers under the age of 18 – earmuffs: ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME PACK!! THAT WAS EMBARRASSING! F************KKKKKKK!
I feel better. Now that that’s out the way, on to the assessment of what went from being one of the best seasons ever to a season leaving you more frustrated than a Jewish Tebow fan. The 2011 Packers had the best offense in franchise history, a solid special teams, and one of the worst defenses in franchise history. Yet, despite overcoming some crucial injuries throughout the season, the team finished 15-1 and looked unstoppable – so long as they didn’t stop themselves. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in their first playoff game. The Packers simply picked the wrong time to play their worst game in over a calendar year.
In what became an annoying trend as the season wore on, became a plague during the most important game of the season: dropped passes. It’s as if Troy Williamson all of a sudden was coaching the WR core. The “official” count from the ESPN is 6, but I think we can all agree that number is generously low. The worst part was the dropped passes came from every single player – Jennings, Finley (obv.), Jordy, Cobb, Starks, Crabtree…
Wait, there’s more unfortunately. Dropped passes were just one of the problems. During the season, the Packers turned the ball over only 14 times… that’s one less turnover than games won. Again, let me repeat that: the Packers had one more win that total turnovers all season long. That’s absurd! To put it into perspective even more, those 14 turnovers are only six more than the Pack (read: Brent Favre) had in the 2002 playoff game against the Rams. So, it only makes sense that the Packers would commit 4 turnovers in the most important game of the year.
Now, I know I haven’t mentioned our anemic defense yet. But, I firmly believe the defense played on par with how it played all season. To put it another way, the defense did enough to allow our offense to win this game. That was the same strategy used to go 15-1. Remember, our defense prevented the NYG from getting a 1st down in the second half until the beginning of the 4th Quarter. That means, the most dangerous offense in the league had a full quarter to erase a ten-point deficit. The offense simply failed to take advantage of the defense’s strong play and seize control of the game. It was during this stretch that McCarthy fell into a nasty habit where he gets stubborn with his play calling. The Packers spent the 3rd Quarter trying to establish the run, to little effectiveness. Too often, the Pack found themselves in third-and-long situations. Rodgers often bailed them out with his legs. But, the law of averages takes over and the NYG were able to hold the Pack on a few of those third downs, forcing the Packers to kick a FG, punt, and go for it early in the 4th Quarter. I thought McCarthy needed to go hurry up, instead of slowing the game down. The Pack started with the hurry up at the beginning of the game and proceeded to march down the field until JMike dropped a critical pass and Rodgers missed the wide open Jennings. But, the offense was clicking and moving the chains. Why we went away from that is unknown, but just another one of the “what ifs” that makes this loss all the more frustrating.
In sum, 2011 was a great calendar year for the Green Bay Packers. Winning 19 games in a row, including Super Bowl XLV, was likely a once in a lifetime streak. Finishing 15-1 was the best season ever by a Packers team. But, the season ended in heartbreaking fashion. The team is still primed for future Super Bowl runs, and the window of opportunity was just cracked open last season. I expect this loss will fuel the team this off-season. TT has done a helluva job getting this team to become a year-in and year-out Super Bowl contender. It’s up to him to make the necessary moves to fix some of the obvious problems on the defensive side of the ball. Future posts will address this job and more during this gloomy off-season.