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Packers 2014 Season: Glass Half Full, Glass Half Empty

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Packers 2014 Season: Glass Half Full, Glass Half Empty

An optimist and pessimist view of the Green Bay Packers’ 2014 season:

Season Overall

Half Full: The Packers tied for the NFL lead in regular-season victories and were one of just five teams to win 12 games in 2014. Twelve wins is nothing to sneeze at; it’s only been done 11 times in franchise history, and only seven times post Lombardi. The club won its fourth straight division championship, a feat which had never been done before in Green Bay. The Packers also qualified for the postseason for the sixth straight year, tying another franchise record, and played a home playoff game for the fourth straight season. Green Bay was dominant at times in the regular season, with seven of 12 wins by 10 or more points, and five by 21 or more. A win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round secured a 9-0 season at home and a trip to the NFC Championship Game, where the Packers are now tied with the San Francisco 49ers for most appearances in the NFC since 2007 (three). All seasons are ultimately judged on final result, but there’s no discounting 13 total wins, a division title and a spot in the league’s final four. 

Half Empty: The Packers remained as healthy as any team in football but failed to get back to the Super Bowl. Road whippings in Seattle, Detroit and New Orleans stained the first half of the season, and an ugly loss in Buffalo ended up costing Green Bay home field advantage in the playoffs. A 14-2 record and the No. 1 seed were certainly attainable. Who knows how the NFC title game would have finished had it been played at Lambeau Field. Having Aaron Rodgers under contract through 2019 will provide many more playoff berths, but how many opportunities to reach a Super Bowl will be as golden as this lost one? While Mike McCarthy said his team will not “bear the burden” of 2014 in 2015, this blown chance will sting for a long while. The Packers were title quality but now have nothing to show for it except an epic postseason collapse. 

 

NFC Championship Game

Half Full: A touchdown underdog, the Packers manhandled the defending Super Bowl champions in their building for the first 56 or so minutes. Green Bay’s defense made stops on Seattle’s first 11 possessions, while the Packers scored on four of their first five drives. The Seahawks fell behind by 10 or more points after one quarter for the first time at home since 2012, and then fell behind by 16 points at half time for the first time over the 28-game stretch. Only two teams had lead by more than Green Bay’s nine points after three quarters. The Packers won the turnover battle, had fewer penalties and possessed the football longer. Essentially, Green Bay did everything but win the game. Secure an onside kick and the Packers were Glendale bound. There are deep scars, but should Green Bay ever fear going into Seattle again?

Half Empty: The Packers intercepted Russell Wilson four times, received a fifth turnover on special teams, held leads of 16-0 and 19-7 and still couldn’t beat the Seahawks. Seattle all but handed Green Bay a trip to the Super Bowl, but the Packers swung and missed on 21 opportunities to win the game and eventually wound up a stunned loser in overtime. Green Bay might have dominated for 56 minutes, but when the Seahawks flicked on the switch over the final four and overtime, the Packers were nothing more than bystanders to their own annihilation. An offense that led the league in points with the MVP quarterback was no match and no equal to arguably the best defense of this generation. Wilson was comically bad with the football, but he still ended up making more big plays than Rodgers. The defense went from ’85 Bears to ’11 Packers in the blink of an eye. When will an opportunity like this come around again? Few teams in NFL history have been as close to a Super Bowl before having it all ripped away. 

 

Aaron Rodgers

Half Full: Rodgers put together another MVP season, throwing 38 touchdowns against just five interceptions and finishing second in the NFL in both yards per attempt (8.4) and passer rating (112.2). Over a four-game stretch covering games against the Bears, Vikings, Dolphins and Panthers, Rodgers threw 13 touchdowns without an interception—amassing a passer rating of 137.9. He later went on a five-game turn with 16 touchdowns, zero picks and a 127.1 rating. The Packers won all nine of the games. Rodgers saved his best for last, as he shook off a double tear in his left calf to lead the Packers to an NFC North title in Week 17 and a Divisional Round playoff win two weeks later. Among his best moments were tossing three touchdowns in a R-E-L-A-X performance in Week 4, a game-winning drive in Miami, six touchdowns in one half against the Bears and out-dueling Tom Brady and Matt Ryan in back-to-back weeks. Five interceptions over 16 games is still hard to wrap your head around. Seasons at the quarterback position really don’t get much better than Aaron Rodgers in 2014. 

Half Empty: Rodgers was scintillating in all 13 wins but a mere mortal in the five losses. Seattle and Detroit gave him nothing during early-season losses, New Orleans picked him off twice in the Superdome and the Bills held him to one of his worst games as a professional quarterback in a critical Week 15 loss. On one good leg in the NFC title game, Rodgers was decent but not nearly good enough. His costly mistakes helped keep Seattle in the contest. Over two battles between a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback and a once-in-a-lifetime defense, the Seahawks defense scored two decisive victories. The Packers still need him to play near perfect to win. Another year of Rodgers’ prime passed without a Super Bowl appearance. 

 

Dom Capers’ Defense

Half Full: The Packers ranked 13th in points and 15th in yards, both improvements over 24th and 25th place finishes a season ago, respectively. Green Bay also upped its turnover total from 22 in 2013 to 27 in 2014, which ranked eighth in the NFL. The Packers allowed an opposing passer rating of 82.0, good for ninth overall, and registered sacks on 7.5 percent of opposing drop backs, which ranked seventh. Capers’ defense held eight opponents under 21 points and gave up 30 or more just three times. The unit made big (and occasionally lucky) stops in several wins, including against the Jets (timeout negates tying touchdown), Dolphins (stop set up final drive), Patriots (halted Brady’s last drive) and Cowboys (Dez no catch). New England and Dallas only managed 21 points a piece in big games. What Capers was then able to pull off in Seattle was nothing short of amazing, as his defense made Russell Wilson look like he didn’t belong for 56 or so minutes. The performance was more than good enough to put the Packers in the Super Bowl, had the other two units only held up their end of the bargain. Green Bay was championship worthy on defense for the first time since 2010. 

Half Empty: The Packers needed to put their best edge rusher at inside linebacker to fix a defense that was rupturing left and right at the bye week. It took eight full weeks to figure out A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones weren’t every-down players. The best quarterbacks—Wilson in the opener, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Tony Romo—still made mostly easy work of Capers’ unit. Brees was clinical, Brady had a passer rating over 100.0, Ryan nearly staged a huge comeback at Lambeau Field and Romo was one unlucky call at the goal line from sending the Packers out of the postseason with an impressive stat line (his passer rating was still over 140.0). Credit Capers for keeping the lid on Wilson and Marshawn Lynch for most of the NFC Championship Game, but his defense crumbled late, as Seattle’s duo essentially took anything they wanted over the final four minutes and into overtime. The Seahawks needed touchdowns on three straight possessions to win and they scored touchdowns on three straight possessions, including the first of overtime. No one remembers the dropped onside kick if the defense just makes one final stop. Jermaine Kearse’s deep touchdown against the single coverage of Tramon Williams will be replayed over and over for years to come. 

 

Overview

The Packers won 12 games, took home another division title and advanced to the NFC Championship Game. That’s a fine season any way you slice it up. But 2014 will long be remembered as an opportunity missed; a chance to play for a Super Bowl thrown away in the most tragic fashion. The Packers are left with knowing they were one of only two teams to lead both Super Bowl participants by 10 or more points this season. Green Bay would have felt very good about its chances of beating the Patriots again in Super Bowl XLIX. Instead, it’s on to 2015. 

 

Zach Kruse contributes to Cheesehead TV. He is also the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bugeater's picture

I know there's no such thing as a moral victory - and the scoreboard shows Green Bay as 0 - 3 vs. Seattle, but except for two of the weirdest finishes in NFL history, the Packers are actually 2 - 1. So, glass half full, Green Bay actually outplayed both of the current Super Bowl teams.

Yeah I know - scoreboard - but man. So close.

RCPackerFan's picture

I was thinking the same thing this morning...
They essentially won 2 of the games there, but have an 0-3 record.

They are a blown ref's call away from a win, and they are a dropped onside kick (amongst other things) away from 2 wins there...

Tarynfor12's picture

The Packers are both half empty and half full...yes,a politically correct answer.

Lets take a ladder and we know they can climb the ladder to get to the top,therefore the half full has been met,but when they approach the point of two rungs below the warning...'do not use this step'...they get a little too cautious and only use the next one instead of the next two allowed and simply come up short...again, thus the half empty.

The Packers lose not because they fall off the ladder but from their fear of falling off the ladder and taking the NFL version of OSHA above and beyond the recommendation.

We scream out to them.....you can do it..just don't look down...but they do and..instant freeze...Perhaps someone is shaking the ladder on the ground because he is afraid.....McCarthy anyone.

Can we get some help for the guy footing the ladder?

JimTaylor31's picture

Interesting analogy. I like the OSHA spin. You don't suppose they kept playing Hawk all these years because they were afraid of hurting somebody?

denniseckersley's picture

Glass 100% Full: The Bears Still Suck

joe packer's picture

Half full: great team good management

Half empty: who are not quite good enough.

joe packer's picture

Half empty: no super bowl

half full: but waaay under the salary cap.

Nick Perry's picture

Half full for sure. The Packers with all their young WR and TE I thought were still a year away. As we saw a few times this year the Packers could have used that 3rd WR like they had in 2010. Adams will put up huge numbers next year and Nelson, Cobb (He will be signed) , and Adams will form the best WR trio in the NFL. Rodgers may or maynot be the answer at TE but the kid can catch the ball.

HALf FULL!!! Go Pack!!!

Imma Fubared's picture

Great analysis! My only take, I felt a lot of teams failed to exploit the weak pass defense! A few teams waited to late in the games and never caught up!

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