Packer Fans Hard To Please

The Packers are undefeated, on their way to the playoffs, and are riding an unprecedented win streak dating back to last season. So, why are Packer fans squabbling with themselves?

Perhaps Packer fans are the most spoiled fans on the planet.  It’s possible.  However can you explain the logic behind an undefeated team eight games in and having a sizable portion of the fan base ready to hurl itself off the cliff if Dom Capers isn't fired?  Crazy talk.

That is, it’s crazy unless I’m the one doing the complaining.  And, like nearly everyone else, I find myself deciding whether or not to bite my tongue when I see the secondary grossly out of position on a huge play downfield...again.  I mean, the team is 8-0.  And I’m the guy who coined the phrase, “The most important statistic in football that determines the outcome of the game is Wins/Loss”.

Yet when I see Rodgers take a sack instead of throwing the ball away, a defensive back try to make too much happen when it isn’t needed, or Matthews stymied by a single blocker, my instinct as a writer is to point it out.  You know, “here’s where we need to improve.”

But why in the world should you do that when you’re 8-0?  I mean, I lived through the 1980’s, through some teams that were downright miserable.  The nadir of the Forrest Gregg Era was pockmarked by thuggery that would make today’s “Packer People” adherents fill their shorts.

But, those were years it was easy to simply turn off the television after the third quarter, knowing that not only was the game lost, not only was the season lost, but there was little hope on the horizon for anything better.  Today is different. The Packers are defending Super Bowl Champions and cruising on the way to a repeat appearance.  Expectations are high, and we forget that only 16 games ago, the Packers were clinging on to a sliver of hope of even grabbing the wild card.

So, what is it?  Is the 8-0 record an automatic trump card for any potential criticism?  Does the fact the Packers have rolled out a near-impossible fourteen wins in a row mean that any flaws should go unmentioned?

Or, should we expect more of the class of the NFL?  I wrote this past Sunday about the megateams of the past, and wonder if this is what passes for the megateam of today:  a team that allows opponents to stay in games, no matter how bad they are.

As usual, in today’s bipartisan, polarized political landscape, most people quickly jump to one side or the other (and demonize the other); but in reality, the reality is far more of a level-headed compromise.

The funny thing is that Packer fans normally turn on each other when the team is 0-8, and usually even when we’re 4-4.  When there’s reasons to point fingers at losses, that will bring out the arguments and discussions.  The fact that we’re 8-0 and Packers fans are still flinging some poo at each other may speak to a far broader issue than just whether or not we should be criticizing an undefeated team.

So, let’s review.  The Packers are on an unprecedented run of fourteen straight wins.  No matter how you slice those up, whether they are ugly wins or “the other team losing more”, this is the NFL and the Packers have knocked off playoff teams...including the Bears, who they have beaten three times over the streak.  In the 1980’s we’d take any win we could get, and ugly wins were usually the ones we got anyway.

We know, however, that winning streaks (while very nice) aren’t the final goal.  The New England Patriots can attest to what it is like to go 18-1 in a season.  The position of that one loss ends up far outweighing the 18 wins, consecutive or otherwise.  The Packers are no longer some sixth-seed, dark horse, team of destiny.  They are the defending champs and, at this point, anything less than a Super Bowl victory will have to be viewed as a disappointment.

The one thing I struggle with is that I DO seem to have an expectation that no drive by the other team should end up in the end zone, that sometimes even a third-down conversion should be picked apart and analyzed.  And then, I question it...have I set my goals so high that anything less than perfection needs to be criticized?  I have to remember that these are all NFL teams with professional players at the helm.  As much as we may feel they are inferior to our Packers, they are still capable of winning an NFL game on any given Sunday.

I have to remind myself that every play made against the Packers isn’t simply a mistake by the Packers, but can be credited to the play of the opponents.  Anyone watching Tolbert run against the Packers on Sunday had to give credit to a guy who used his blocks and was simply a chore to bring down.  And Rivers, despite his three interceptions, made plays when the Packers defense broke down.  He still had to complete those passes, and he did.

In the end, do we have the “right to criticize”?  Sure we do.  But, I do believe that as we offer some criticisms, we keep the big picture in full view.  Pointing out flaws and working to improve them is a critical aspect of any football team.

If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.

Aaron Rodgers and his receivers are having a historic year.  One for the ages.  We need to celebrate that.  Oh, Rodgers needs to work a little on avoiding the sack.  No big deal.  But, it certainly is on the “to-do” list.

The offensive line is doing quite well,  Bryan Bulaga is improving and Scott Wells is having a Pro Bowl season.  Oh, we need to get Aaron a little more time in the pocket at times.  Let’s work on that.

Our defense is creating turnovers at a fantastic pace, keeping quarterbacks frustrated and generating points.  Hey, we wouldn’t have won that game without those two pick-sixes on Sunday.  But, we need to generate a pass rush and clean up the secondary’s communication issues.  Stat.  Gonna need that operating on all cylinders in the playoffs.

Fantastic season by Mason Crosby, who has shunned the nonbelievers and is proving he’s worth every cent of his new contract.  Tim Masthay is awesome (when he actually gets to kick) and Randall Cobb has shown a lot of promise as a returner.  Oh, we really should work on that return blocking and trying to generate some actual holes for Cobb to get to, but overall, nice work, special teams.

There will come a day where we will sit and wonder why we questioned so much this season.  Someday, the Packers will fall back amongst the rabble and be just another team, and we’ll look back on 2011 as a charmed year where everything went right.  We don’t recall all the criticism we threw at the 1996 Packers while the season went on (oh, you don’t remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when Green Bay was silenced 21-6  by the Cowboys?).

But that will be then.  This is now, and there are few fan bases in the NFL as passionate or as knowledgeable as the Packers’.   Times like these tempt us to prove otherwise.

If a fellow fan goes on a tirade, demanding that coaches be fired and Clay Matthews be traded, gently remind them that the team is 8-0 and undefeated.

If a fellow fan tells you no criticism is allowed because the team is 8-0, gently remind them of the 2007 Patriots.

And then buy them a beer, shake their hand, and sit back and enjoy the ride together.  However it ends, seasons like this do not come around very often.  Go Pack Go.

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Comments (36)

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dawg's picture

November 07, 2011 at 10:19 pm

The Past is the past!.
As for this team--No penetration, no communication!
No protection, no separation!
Whoooooo-----8 & 0
K

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Dave's picture

November 07, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Great post I feel like I am living in the glory years right now and people should stop complaining and live it up. I guess it might be a matter of perspective my kids have never seen the pack when they were truly bad and if you thought the 80s with Lynn Dickey and James lofton were bad you should have seen John Hadl ,Randy Wright and David Whitehurst of the 70s

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redlights's picture

November 07, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Randy Wright was in the 80's and was my hero! Satan Majkowski stole his job.

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Doug In Sandpoint's picture

November 08, 2011 at 09:50 am

Scott Hunter, Jim Del Gazo, Carlos Brown...

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fish/crane's picture

November 08, 2011 at 04:46 pm

Paul Ott Carruth 3rd and 15 screen pass bad

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FITZCORE1252's picture

November 07, 2011 at 10:37 pm

A whiny, fickle bunch we are. People better realize we've been spoiled with STELLAR QB play the past 20 years (some franchises have NEVER experienced it), and this shit isn't gonna last forever. Do you want to bitch about anything and everything or do you want to savor this while it lasts and look at the big picture? I'm rollin' with the latter.

GBP 4 LIFE

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Bearmeat's picture

November 07, 2011 at 10:42 pm

..... breathe......think about bad pass rush... breathe.... get mad at secondary... breath.. perspective... breathe...

Thanks CD!

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cow42's picture

November 07, 2011 at 10:51 pm

yeah but the defense is just so ridiculously awful.

one of the worst packer defenses we've seen in a long time. other than intercepting passes, they are pretty much pathetic at everything else.

imagine being a defensive player on this team. they must be ashamed to share a locker room with the offense. how can they even look their offensive teammates in the eyes?

pathetic.

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PackerAaron's picture

November 08, 2011 at 12:03 am

I really hope this is sarcasm.

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NJ's picture

November 08, 2011 at 12:25 am

Hmmm ... I think it's serious, so I'm guessing he/she doesn't remember or didn't have to live through the 80s (I happily missed the 70s myself).

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Bob's picture

November 08, 2011 at 07:48 am

I believe the defense will improve. I'm living up here in Patriots country. After watching Bellicheck coached teams for years perform above their talent level. His main theme is always the same. Stay with your assignment, do your job the way your coached, and everything will work out. A little less jumping of routes, stick with your man or zone. Turnovers will still happen and receivers roaming free will not.

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PackersRS's picture

November 08, 2011 at 02:01 pm

2008.

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Bob's picture

November 09, 2011 at 07:44 am

Silly response, how about 2002,2004,2005, and 2008 tight end makes catch of his life. The score of 2008 was 17-14 hardly a defensive failure.

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doc j's picture

November 07, 2011 at 10:52 pm

It's the Internet age of histrionics.

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Packerwest's picture

November 07, 2011 at 11:09 pm

A lot of the reason the pass defense is having trouble is the lack of any pass rush.You can survive some blown assignments in the secondary if the opposing QB doesn't have as much time for the recievers to get 25-30 yards downfield.Hopefully this will improve if Neal makes it back.

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Mr. Bacon's picture

November 08, 2011 at 12:23 am

Sometimes you just need to grab a slice of pizza, crack open a cold one and just have fun watching Aaron Rodgers throw footballs through the Metrodome roof causing it too collapse.

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Wagszilla's picture

November 08, 2011 at 04:07 am

This reminds me: I need some pizza.

*Grabs keys*

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Chris's picture

November 08, 2011 at 04:36 am

I REALLY do NOT subscribe to the assumption that had the defense not scored two TDs we would not have won the game. All the pick-sixes did was take the ball out of AR's hands. Had the INTs only led to stops. AR would have had a short field to work with and how many of those opportunities has he missed lately?
Besides, the D played a certain way in the second half because we had a 21-point lead. They would have played with a little more urgency if the lead had not been as big.

Final thought: I heard Homer say that the Pack has a NFL record of 14 consecutive games in which they never trailed in the 4th quarter. So, yes, the D is struggling this year (and causing my ulcer no end of trouble), but let's not forget that when the going got tough our D got the job done.

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Tarynfor 12's picture

November 08, 2011 at 07:32 am

Achieving perfection leaves you nowhere to go but down while having flaws allows you to strive for it yet hoping secretly to never reach it.
As much as the defense is/seems horrible it's the one thing right now that keeps the team grounded and should keep many fans from leaping off the cliff of doom they fear is in front of them.

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BTF's picture

November 08, 2011 at 07:51 am

Good article. If it's any consolation as a fan of many sports teams I can confirm that fickleness, long term memory loss and a hint of mania are far from unique to Packer fans...

Have to agree that this is a very good Packers team with a QB playing at a once in a lifetime level. It needs to be enjoyed..

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Idiot Fan's picture

November 08, 2011 at 10:01 am

Thanks for the article C.D., it's a good reminder. But I think you might be over-stating it a bit (unless you read different sites than I do, which is possible). I've never heard anyone call for Dom's head. In fact, most of us remember the greatness that Dom & Co. gave us last year, which is why we're a little confused by what we're seeing.

I think the criticism stems from the fact that football, unlike the other major sports, doesn't play 5- or 7-game series in the playoffs. It's just one game per round, so any off day will send you home. I think most of us see (and greatly appreciate) the greatness of this team and really want to see it rewarded with a Superbowl. And because there's always the possibility of a premature exit, we worry about the little stuff. That's not dissatisfaction on our part; it's anxiety and hope that in the future when we look back on this team, we can reflect on the greatness of the Super Bowl champs, not on a team that was awesome but couldn't quite get it done.

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FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

November 08, 2011 at 10:35 am

That I can understand.

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Mojo's picture

November 08, 2011 at 11:12 am

You stated just what I was thinking Idiot Fan. It's not that we don't appreciate what the Packers have done, but the prize is much larger for us fans. We don't want just a good regular season record and then a quick exit from the playoffs, we want to win the SB and be truly great. Plus I haven't heard one outcry to get rid of Capers. As Idiot Fan said we're confused as to what's going on.

I think people who jump all over anyone who criticizes an aspect of this team are the ones generally overreacting.

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CSS's picture

November 08, 2011 at 11:25 am

Reasoned criticism is absolutely fair, no disputing that. It's the people that tweet, show up on message boards and blogs with nothing but visceral reactions saying this person sucks or that coach is terrible all while any given unit continues to be clutch. Is it possible they're exposed at some point, sure. Have they had a figurative meltdown like we've already seen with Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, New England, Detroit or New York, no. Again, it's a flawed unit but this team has by far fewer flaws than any other team in either conference.

Just my opinion, but fans are really missing out on some special play when already looking ahead to a SB for the overall play of this squad to be vindicated. Watch with a critical eye, I agree. Generate anxiety following each victory because they 'could lose' next week, insane.

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Idiot Fan's picture

November 08, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Fair enough. Maybe "anxiety" was the wrong word for me to use. Perhaps "hope" was the better choice. I love this Packer team more than any other that has preceded it, and I really want them to be rewarded for their awesomeness (both in character and in skill). I know that I'm watching a special team when I'm watching them, and I'm loving every game. We're going to be talking about this team years (decades?) from now; I just can't help but hope it's as conquering champions.

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hobot's picture

November 08, 2011 at 10:10 am

Cd,
very well written piece that breaks down the dichotomy that we as packer fans are experiencing. as fans we are allowed (and probably expected) to pick apart weaknesses and address where are shortcomings are, i just felt that the negative talk was grossly overweighting the fact that we are undefeated and haven't lost in nearly a year.

yes, this team doesn't feel "perfect" and as tough as it is to put into words how we should feel, I think you did as great of a job as possible.

I think as fans we need to appreciate what we have because this doesn't come along often (and for cleveland, ever.) and realize that if we can't take a step back and appreciate the special team (albeit flawed) we have in front of us that maybe it is impossible to please us.

if we win the super bowl all of this will be forgotten amidst trivial parts of history, but i am going to choose to enjoy this ride along the way.

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 08, 2011 at 10:35 am

A Viking friend asked me if I was scared about the Charges win. No, not really. This year, the Packers always seem to be ahead when the 4th quarter starts. Sometimes a team makes a run at them, but they always hold onto the win. It is so much better always playing from ahead than trying to pull the rabbit out of the hat.

So I'm enjoying the run. Yes, there are flaws. Yes, you can complain about the pass D and CM3 not getting sacks if you want to. Yes, we do sometimes hold this group to a higher standard because we know they SHOULD win it all this year. And they do the same thing to themselves. I don't see the concepts of being critical and enjoying myself as being mutually exclusive.

(I think CD was being facetious with the "calling for Dom's head" comment. We're getting feel for CD's style - he usually overstates the case at the outset, and I do not think that he means it literally.)

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foundinidaho's picture

November 08, 2011 at 12:10 pm

As someone who has read CD's stuff for quite a while now, this is a classic example of how dead on he is. :) Good stuff, CD.

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Chris's picture

November 08, 2011 at 10:37 am

The question I ask myself after each win:
Will I view anything but a Superbowl repeat as a failed season? If so, why am I so spoiled? There are 32 teams competing, and at least half of them are decent enough to beat anyone on a great day. That is the nervewracking setup of the NFL playoffs. No 3-, 5- or 7-game-series. It's one and done. Ask the 2007 Patriots.
Puts things in perspective, and I try to enjoy every game and not just look at the mistakes. What a heck of a season!

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JoePackersNYC's picture

November 08, 2011 at 11:24 am

I don't comment very often, but I check out CHTV every day.

I'll keep this short - CD that was dead-on perfect.

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greenbowlpacker's picture

November 08, 2011 at 11:33 am

Great artical...enjoyed it very much, thanks...go PACK go!

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bill dickson's picture

November 08, 2011 at 11:35 am

GREAT GREAT ARTICLE.......MUSIC TO A 51YO PACK FANS EARS......PERFECTLY PUT TO WORDS

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Michael from Winnipeg's picture

November 08, 2011 at 11:35 am

I think we are looking for the same high-level output on the defensive side, as the offense is giving us. Look at some of the recent great defensive teams like the Lovie Smith Bears and the Dilfer-led Ravens, that didnt have an offense that produced. Those teams relied on defense to win games, and those fans were probably crying for an offense that could score points. For us, rigtht now, its the other way around.

What can cure this, is a stellar defensive effort Monday night vs the Vikings, and against the Buccaneers, both at home.

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bill dickson's picture

November 08, 2011 at 11:44 am

TWO WORDS....Rich Campbell

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Franklin Hillside's picture

November 08, 2011 at 01:19 pm

"Someday, the Packers will fall back amongst the rabble and be just another team"

You, sir, are a liar, liar, with your pants on fire.

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Steve's picture

November 08, 2011 at 09:10 pm

It was only a few years ago we had a defense that could not hold a lead in the fourth quarter. But guess what, this one has shutdown the opposition comeback numerous times this season. So its not all bad. Also, I really enjoyed the drama of the last two games. The STL game before them was down right boring. I think I want the Packers to win as bad as the next guy, but football is entertainment, and I love it when we win the close game. Even if it was due to inept defense that made it close. The team has flaws, they are not dominant (except for AR's play) as much as we want them to be. But give TT time and they will become the dominant team we all think we want. Personally I really prefer the uncertainty of the outcome and really enjoy it when we hang on in the end. So as much as I want to complain that the defense sucks, I try remember the years past, it could be a lot worse.

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