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Potential Realized...

Potential Realized...

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Looking back on the Green Bay Packers 2009 season, I would call it a season of fulfilled potential. Yearning to bounce back from a 6-10 record in 2008, the Packers seemed to have all their ducks in a row. An excellent draft, outstanding preseason and a supposedly easy schedule over the first half of the season.

 

 

 

 

I, for one, predicted a 2009 wild-card berth with a record of 10-6 or 11-5, expecting the Packers to be 7-1 or 6-2 at the halfway point, and then struggling with the tougher half of their schedule. Well, we all know the Packers chose to flip my prediction upside down. I suppose it all makes sense now, taking into account the time needed for the Packers defense to become fully comfortable with their new defensive packages. I considered that at the time, but the early schedule just looked so EASY. Haha...

 

But regardless of how they got there, the Packers are 11-5 and in the playoffs. And to think, they are just one final-second play from being 12-4 and having won eight games in a row. A truly remarkable turnaround to their season that all started with that "Come to Jesus" meeting" after the Tragedy in Tampa that broke the spirit of even the most die hard Packer fans (like this writer).

 

In the weeks prior to the Tampa game, I had written about what I perceived as Mike McCarthy's lack of command over his team. There was talk about poor practices, the plethora of penalties, lack of discipline and most importantly, lack of accountability. But nothing changed in Packerland. The Tampa debacle proved that unequivocally.

 

Former players like Leroy Butler and Gilbert Brown spoke out and were critical of how the team was being coached and handled. Packers president Mark Murphy even went public with harsh comments about how disappointed he was that the Packers were only 4-4.

 

Fortunately, instead of waiting for McCarthy to act, the players decided to take matters into their own hands. With a brutally honest meeting that singed quite a few eyebrows, the players reclaimed their pride and took their season back.

 

A few weeks before, Ted Thompson had made two moves that helped facilitate the turnaround. During the bye week, Thompson brought back veteran Mark Tauscher. Nobody was sure how much he would be able to contribute on the field, but even if his injury lingered, "Tausch" would be a great presence in the locker room.

 

Ten days later, Deshawn Wynn was placed on IR and Thompson signed Ahman Green. Why Ahman Green?, so many people asked (this writer included). Why bypass Kregg Lumpkin on the practice squad to bring in this aging veteran that has been so hobbled by serious injuries?

What did he have left? The answer of course, is "just enough." But more importantly, with the way he carries himself and his work ethic, "Batman" has the utmost respect of the Packer players.

 

So when the Tragedy in Tampa went down, I believe that having these two warriors   on the team and in the locker room contributed mightily to the players deciding to put a stop to the poor play and under-achieving. They were two respected players that just wouldn't stand for embarrassing performances.

 

With red-hot Dallas as the next opponent, things did not look promising for the Packers, even playing at home. It would take a complete and utter all-out performance to beat the streaking Cowboys. Dom Capers recognized this, and realized the defense would have to set the tone in this game.

He unleashed the lions and went after the Boys with aggression. The result was 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception by Charles Woodson that would be the dagger right through the star on the Dallas Cowboys Helmets, as eloquently stated by Wayne Larrivee in what I think is the top announcer moment of the year. Listen to it here (personally, I never get tired of it).

 

The season was reborn. The offensive line stabilized with Tauscher back, Clifton healthy again, and Scott Wells bringing his unappreciated talents back to the OL. And let me say right here, I was one of those people who did not think all that highly of Scott Wells. Perhaps I drank the "Jason Spitz is bigger and meaner and better than Wells" Kool-Aid. But watching Wells more closely, I have come to appreciate his smarts out on the field. Wells will point out blocking assignments if he feels a potential blitz coming and there has undoubtedly been less confusion on the line as the season has progressed.

 

On the defensive side, Dom Capers gave more and more responsibility to Clay Matthews and he soaked it up like a roll of Bounty paper towels, finishing the season with 10 sacks. With Al Harris out, Capers blitzed Charles Woodson less and instead started using him to personally shut down opponents' best receivers. Brad Jones filled in for the injured Aaron Kampman and did not look like a 7th round draft pick. Truth be told, he has probably played as well as Kampman was playing in that position.

 

The Packers were rolling when they traveled to Pittsburgh to meet the World Champion Steelers. I believe this was the second-most significant game of the Packers season (after the Dallas game). Despite a heart-breaking loss, I think the Packers proved to themselves that they were a resilient team that never quits and are capable of beating anyone. I firmly believe losing certain games in certain ways to certain opponents can be as much of a confidence boost as a big win. I'm convinced the Packers came out of that game with some swagger, a chip on their shoulder and a new resolve to always play to their potential.

 

And I think that's what we've seen. A season of fulfilled potential. Let the playoffs begin!

—————————–

You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

Jersey Al is the Green Bay Packers Draft Correspondent for Drafttek.com.

You can also follow Jersey Al on facebook and twitter.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

FITZCORE1252's picture

"Let the playoffs begin!"

A-FU*KING-MEN, LET'S DO THIS!

GBP 4 LIFE

Jersey Al's picture

What are you like on game day?

LOL

FITZCORE1252's picture

ALWAYS... LET ME AT 'EM

HAHA

Greg C.'s picture

I should've known you would find a way to bring Lumpkin into this, Al. Nicely done!

Seriously, the mid-season turnaround was great, although as you imply, it still leaves some room to doubt Mike McCarthy's ability to motivate his team. The motivation to clean things up really seemed to come from the players. But on the other hand, maybe McCarthy did the right thing by letting the players figure it out for themselves. Maybe that's the way it needed to happen. Sometimes a coach needs to take a more subtle approach.

At any rate, looking back at McCarthy's four seasons, the only one that ended badly was 2008. They went 8-8 his first year, but ended with four wins, and now they have earned their second playoff berth under McCarthy, with a strong finish. So I've got to think he's doing something right. It is worth noting that the players never turned on him last year or at the midway point of this season.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Yes, while there have been times when I wondered... It seems the players do have coach's back. Mike is gonna be here for some time and I'm all good with that (for now).

GBP 4 LIFE

Jersey Al's picture

Lumpkin is my Forrest Gump. He works his way into every situation...

Funny, because I gave McCarthy and the coaching staff ALL the credit his first year. I was at that first game where they got blown out by Chicago, and the Packers looked like an awful team. They were not ready. But MM and the coaches got things righted and as you noted, it finished well. This season, though, I just don't think he did as much. Of course, it's just speculation. I'm not in the locker room.

cow42's picture

If the players didn't have MM's back you would have heard/read a lot of negative statements from them while the whole f@v*e fiasco was going down. Instead, all you heard was crickets. In my opinion - that silence spoke volumes.

As for that Tampa game... I'm usually the guy who just KNOWS the Pack is gonna lose. I'm always prepared for the worst. My Packer sky is always falling. I annoy myself and all my Pack fan friends around me. But when they lost that game to Tampa I somehow felt a sense of calm fall over me. At first I thought it was a sense of relief, like "oh well, I don't have to care so much this season. they're not going anywhere so I can cool the jets a bit." But then I realized that, deep down inside, I knew the loss was going to be a turning point. The team had no choice but to confront their flaws and make changes.

Man, I have a good feeling about this squad.

Jersey Al's picture

A little reverse psychology, huh?

Max's picture

Ted and Mike are two guys who are guaranteed to have fuming at their decisions, then just when you're in complete rant mode, BOOM, we start winning, and we all start feeling really silly. I'm along for the ride with TT & MM.

Jersey Al's picture

I guess that describes it pretty succinctly...

FITZCORE1252's picture

Jersey AL,

There are rumors flying that you are indeed "THE SITUATION". Confirm or Deny

GBP 4 LIFE

Jersey Al's picture

I am not the situation, but I am THE SOLUTION.

FITZCORE1252's picture

HAHA, AWESOME AL!

PackersRS's picture

Nicely done, man! Sums up the key moments to the season very well!

The return of Wells is oftenly overlooked, even by me, due to the return of Mark Tauscher, but I think it's as important as, if not more. Also, the return of Brandon Jackson. With Taucher, there isn't a clear whole at the OL; Nobody is being plain beaten, like Tony Mo... I mean, Allen Barbre.

But there were a lot of times the line was beaten by the scheme, with some rushers coming free. I can't remember any since Wells and BJax came back.

About the potential, I thought this team could go 13-3, and definitely win the division. But more importantly, I thought we could win the SB, something still very much achievable. So, potential realized...

Jersey Al's picture

13-3? You were certainly a wild optimist, but nothings wrong with that. I hope your final prediction happens.

FITZCORE1252's picture

FOR THE RECORD...

Just brushing up on some old Sunday School Clips.

If anyone can go through all 8:02 of that MJ clip without getting some electricity going through your spine... you're already dead, you just don't know it yet!

WOW, I haven't really given the guy the time of day in 20 years, forgot how that sick f--k moved. Shame, in every facet.

GBP 4 LIFE

Jersey Al's picture

what clip are you referring to?

FITZCORE1252's picture

A moment on Michael, in the Sunday school section.

Jeremiah's Johnson's picture

Enjoy it while you can, Packtard Ted fans...

Your season comes to and end TOMORROW!!!

FITZCORE1252's picture

U R A D-BAG!

GBP 4 LIFE

Jeremiah's Johnson's picture

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

Erin Rodgers and the Packers suck...

Two picks..one to lose the game. Try and defend that, hypocrites!

Jersey Al's picture

Dear Pack66,

Like your man-crush, Brett Favre, never threw a pick in a playoff game. And I suppose he ever threw 4 TDs in the playoffs - not.

It took Favre 5 years as a starter to win a Super Bowl. Rodgers is only in year two.

You do realize what an complete moron you sound like, don’t you? Nah, I guess not.

And what’s with the multiple fake names on multiple sites. Don’t have the balls to put your real name behind your comments? Actually, I don’t blame you. I’d be embarrassed too.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

Jeremiah's Johnson's picture

I'm from Jersey, Exit 9...

(and Jersey Al..I only post like this because of all the jack-off Pack fans who have said the worst, un-true fake shit imaginable...)

Now those are the Packtards who should be embarassed...

Jersey Al's picture

I wish I knew what you're referring to. So, if I can engage you in something intelligent, please tell me what your story is.

Are you one of those Packer fans that just can't deal with Favre being gone?
Are you a Vikings fan?
Are you just a miserable hump that enjoys busting balls?
Are you Deana Favre?

Enlighten me. Tell me your story. I'll listen...

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"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
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