By most accounts, the Packers played admirably without their franchise quarterback in a game no one thought they could win. Once again, they proved they had enough talent to overcome the odds and get to the brink of victory.
The Patriots had enough gumption to win, in spite of whatever talent gap they had. That’s what counts, and that’s why the Packers are continually wishing and hoping they could get to where the Patriots are. And with McCarthy charting the course, I’m not sure they’ll ever arrive.
Like I wrote last week, I completely understand where Gene is coming from here, but I'm not ready to make that final step into "The'll never win it all with McCarthy" Land. (Not saying Gene is totally there either, though it does sound like he's booked his flight)
What gets me a tad upset is the attitude on display in this post from Adam Czech over at AllGreenBayPackers.com. Basically, Adam wants to throw the entire Patriots game in the dumpster, throw some gasoline on it, and throw in a lit match and watch it burn.
The game was not the blowout everyone expected it to be. The NBC crew after the game said the Packers have nothing to hang their heads about. Fan reaction split into two factions: Pride in how the Packers overcame injuries and almost beat the New England Patriots and hostility for losing yet another close game.
I’m siding with the angry crowd. If the Packers want to make the playoffs, they will treat Sunday’s loss the same way they treated the Lions’ loss.
Yes, the Packers played well, but losing is nothing to be proud of. The only sport where moral victories count is youth soccer. If the Packers are seriously patting themselves on the back after this game, the season is as good as over.
I don't know why, but that last paragraph really pisses me off.
First of all, go look at this video of Donald Driver after the Patriots game. Does that look like a guy who is "patting himself on the back"? Hell no. This loss hurt these guys worse than you and I will ever know. Fans love to rail on and on about the Packers record in close games under McCarthy - how in the hell do you think the players feel about it? They don't get to turn off the computer and go back to their daily lives - this IS their daily lives. While you and I are on the train to work or in a meeting going over the latest projections or on another boring conference call - these guys are in a dark meeting room going over that game play by excruciating play. Oh sure, some of us like to bust out our DVRs and play pretend, but these guys do it for real, day in and day out. For any fan to think that the players are "patting themselves on the back" after that game is misguided at best and close to offensive at worst.
As for McCarthy, I understand why Adam, Gene and others find certain plays on Sunday night "unacceptable", to use Adam's phrase from his post. But what I don't get is the complete dismissal of the positives we saw on Sunday. All over the Packers blogosphere, in their haste to damn McCarthy, bloggers sweep everything that McCarthy did well out of the way to focus on the things that went wrong.
Look, McCarthy is never going to be a great game manager. He's struggled with clock management from the beginning of his tenure as head coach. I'll never forget a sequence toward the end of the first half against the Cardinals in 2006 when McCarthy completely butchered the clock. Favre had wanted to take a time out and McCarthy wouldn't let him and I remember turning to my wife and saying "Of course. Favre's been doing this a hell of a lot longer than McCarthy. He'll learn." I am, of course, still waiting on that one...
He has improved in other areas. He has a great feel for his team and tends to push the right motivational buttons. The man went into the Patriots' house and almost pulled out a win when the entire football world (and most Packer fans) thought the score would be 58-0...by the end of the first half. But rather than give the guy any credit whatsoever - fans want him fired. It's ridiculous.
"They have no chance against the Patriots. They're nowhere near as good"
Packers play the Pats tough, losing on the final drive.
"The Packers had a chance to win! McCarthy sucks!"
Well, there's a reason they had a chance to win - and that reason is Mike McCarthy.
Good coaches are hard to find - just take a look at the turnover each year around the league if you don't believe me. McCarthy is a good coach. A great one? Not yet. But a good one who is getting better. Remember Bill Cowher? There was a two or three year stretch where Steeler fans wanted him fired too - and then he went and won a Super Bowl and now all anyone talks about is "Super Bowl winning coach Bill Cowher" He was a good, not great, coach who was allowed the time to grow and improve.
Last week, when the Packers lost to the Lions, was the time to be mad at McCarthy. Not after a hard fought game against arguably the best team in the NFL.
Vince Lombardi was famous for getting on his players after they played poorly but won and for pulling back and even giving praise when his team played well but lost. That's exactly where I am with the Packers today. They played well, very well, on Sunday night. Better than almost any Packer fan expected them to play. Yes, I'm proud as hell of the Pack and I hope this loss provides a spark for what turns out to be a deep playoff run.
Because make no mistake - the playoffs, for the Packers anyway, start on Sunday against the Giants.