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A Signature Loss?

A Signature Loss?

gregc

gregc

 

Everyone knows what a "signature win" is, but was Sunday’s game a signature loss for the Packers?

 

 

 

 

 

It was downright eerie at times, how similar the second Packer-Viking game was to the first. Even without the noisy Metrodome crowd and fast-track playing surface, the Packers were manhandled at the line of scrimmage and outplayed in every phase of the game, including QB, where Brett Favre was beyond perfect, while Aaron Rodgers displayed talent and heart but was somehow lacking something—and I’m not just talking about protection.

 

In the end, the game did not really feel like a referendum on Favre vs. Rodgers. Most observers, including Favre himself, have stated that the Packers made a reasonable decision in going with Rodgers over Favre. Instead, it was a referendum on the Packers as an organization—and the results were not favorable.

 

Time will tell, but it is possible that this game will go down in history as a signature loss for the Packers. There have been a few of those in recent years. In 1998 the Vikings came into Lambeau Field with their rookie wide receiver, Randy Mos,s and proceeded to destroy Mike Holmgren’s Packers, who were two-time defending NFC champs. The Packers would never regain their swagger. In January of 2002, Michael Vick came to Lambeau and dismantled a 12-4 Packer team, ending their perfect home-field playoff record and putting an end to the Lambeau Field mystique. And in January of 2004 the Packers let one slip away in Philadelphia, in the infamous “4th and 26th” game, which proved to be the beginning of the end of the Mike Sherman era.

 

Last Sunday’s loss to the Vikings may turn out to be the beginning of the end of the Mike McCarthy era, if not the Ted Thompson era. At the very least, the coach and GM have to feel like they have their backs to the wall. The war between Favre and the Packers has been decided in Favre’s favor, and it wasn’t even close. The only thing that could possibly reverse the outcome would be a meeting in the playoffs in which the Packers emerge victorious, but how many Packer fans want their team to play the Vikings a third time? The Vikings have our number. We can’t block them and we can’t get to their QB. Maybe it is time to start buying New Orleans Saints gear.

 

Much of the criticism of Ted Thompson this week has focused on his reluctance to acquire free agent talent, but I’m not so sure that is the problem. The last four Super Bowls have been won by the Steelers, Giants, and Colts--teams that have built their rosters mostly through the draft. And the Packers’ most glaring weakness—the offensive line—is not an area that is easy to address in free agency. You need five players there who are all pretty good and who play effectively as a unit. The addition of one top-tier player, assuming that one becomes available in free agency, is only going to get your offensive line so far.

 

Also, I’m not so sure that excessive youth is the problem. The vast majority of starters on both offense and defense are in the prime of their careers. The only starters who are not in at least their fourth season are Allen Barbre (3rd), Josh Sitton (2nd), and Clay Matthews (rookie), plus fill-in T.J. Lang (rookie). That doesn’t strike me as an unusually high number, especially in a league where younger players are more and more frequently being asked to play prominent roles. It’s really just a question of talent and coaching.

 

There is still time for this team to gel. One big loss that the Packers endured that turned out NOT to be a signature loss was the one to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game at the end of the 1995 season. The Packers were overpowered in the fourth quarter by Dallas’s monster offensive line, and afterwards, one may have wondered if the Packers could ever get past the Cowboys. But after that, they marched smartly forward and won the Super Bowl the next year.

 

Such an outcome seems unlikely for this year’s team. But here’s the thing about signature losses: They usually are not classified as signature losses until well afterwards, when they have been followed by other losses. And we don’t know yet if that’s what’s going to happen. With the prospect of an NFC North title looking bleak, the Packers must now fall back on that familiar refrain: Just make the playoffs, then anything can happen. That is their only shot at redemption. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

Oh. Perfect post Greg C. Just perfect. Sums it up nicely everything that this game could, and probably will, mean to the Packers Management, as well as to the fans.

It's the parameter. Don't matter how we play against the lesser teams, the majority of fans will only be content with the current administration when we beat a great team (Pittsburgh, Dallas convincingly, Baltimore convincingly). Until then, I believe the concept will be that at least McCarthy needs to go in the end of the season, despite a possible playoff reach...

Greg C.'s picture

If I was a betting man, I would still bet on McCarthy getting at least one more year to prove himself, unless the team goes 7-9 or worse. But this second loss to the Vikings, in which the Packers weren't very competitive, is going to stick with McCarthy and Thompson for a long, long time. This is the first time that I've begun to see them as fighting an uphill battle.

Hofschneider's picture

love it.

Greg C.'s picture

Here is the Onion's take on Favre's victory against the Packers:
http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/brett_favre_avenges_storied

Asshalo's picture

Good points, but our free agency numbers are by far the lowest in the league. We're about 10% below league average with free agencies on our roster. I would say lack of development of our draft picks in the secondary and offensive line are much bigger issues though.

The average age of our starters is 29. It's our depth that is young.

"Just make the playoffs, then anything can happen. That is their only shot at redemption."
They still have all the ingredients to make a run. With three very bad teams left (Tampa, Det and Seattle) there's no reason we shouldn't at least go 9-7. I would expect we'de need to be at least 10-6 to get in though.

PackersRS's picture

Building through the draft like the Colts, Giants and Steelers do is perfectly fine. But you need to hit a lot more than you miss. Not the case with TT. He has hit more than miss, but not enough to compensate his inactivity in FA...

I get that if you build mostly through the draft, you'll be able to have much more chemistry than if it were to bring in FAs, but you can't develop chemistry if there's lack of talent and lack of coaching...

RonLC's picture

The Viking game just pointed out that the Packers have no reliable depth in key positions. That is, except the O line which has no players at all. Rodgers is hobbling around and there is no backup. Someone at another blog said that Flynn should play this week so Rodgers can heal. I'll bet big $ that AR will be on the field in a walking cast before that happens.
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If they lose the players that are going FA and Age/Injury this year all those no talent draft picks that TT made are the nucleous of the team. At that point GB is in big trouble. There will be no O linemen, no D linemen, no Safeties, and no backup corners on this team. Let's not forget we have no kickers now.
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TT gave the team this mess, and MM did nothing to change the direction he was going. Off with their heads! Now!

Greg C.'s picture

What "key positions" are you referring to? With the exception of two O-line positions (one of which was filled by Wells, who started for years), all of the starters were healthy for this game. It was the starters who were exposed, not the backups.

I think that OL, QB, and safety are the only positions where we have poor depth.

RonLC's picture

Montgomery and a perptually injured Raji = depth?

Greg C.'s picture

We're four-deep on a three-man line. It would be much better to be five-deep (i.e., to have better players than Montgomery and Wynn after Raji), but four is not bad, in my opinion.

Erik's picture

This is the reasonable and well done post that the blogsphere for Packers fans that is desperately needed after the loss to Minnesota. Very well done, Greg.

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