Packers Can't Let Up In 2016

The Green Bay Packers have seen more than their fair share of meltdowns over the past decade or so and on the heels of Jordan Spieth's collapse on the back nine at The Masters this past weekend, it seemed timely to tie the two together.  

The 2014 NFC championship game and 4th & 26 come to mind first.  There are others, unfortunately.  Both of those games that I mentioned single-handedly caused ulcers and such is life in sports.  We love the drama of a close match that comes down to the wire or a big comeback in an important game.  It's sometimes easier to deal with when it's not your team that is involved.  The sweat, the stomach turns and the heart beating out of the chest are all signs of a passionate fan.  When your team wins, it was all worth it and you have a great story to tell.  When your team loses, it was a wasted afternoon and you ponder never watching them again.

The Packers, under head coach Mike McCarthy, have rarely been blown out.  As such, they have also suffered some heartbreaking losses, especially in the postseason.  Under McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers have been in the fortunate situation of protecting a lead many a time.  The two have gained somewhat of a reputation for easing up and letting opponents hang around instead of putting their proverbial foot on the throat and closing out a win.  While the Packers usually hang on and win, there is always the occasional slip that calls their strategy into question.

With quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the typical Packers offense that isn't missing Jordy Nelson or featuring 11 guys on 11 different pages, the Packers should see some early leads this season.  If McCarthy understands the past, he and the Packers can hopefully avoid repeating the same big mistakes.  Several times we have heard that the window of opportunity is starting to close on these Packers as every year draws closer to the day when Rodgers isn't throwing passes anymore.  It's hard to expect the zebra to change its stripes and see McCarthy become a clone of "Riverboat" Ron Rivera, for example.  But not taking anything for granted and trusting his players can hopefully lead to some better results this season and beyond.

In that fateful conference championship game in Seattle, the defense was instructed, ahead of time, to be very conservative with the ball if they forced a turnover  Instead of just playing ball and taking what is literally in front of them, the players were told to give themselves up and instead work the clock.  The problem there was that there was way too much clock left and they didn't really consider the repercussions of not keeping the ball long enough to run out that clock.  

In 2011, the Packers were 15-1 behind the most potent offense in the game and despite one of the more pedestrian defenses.  That Green Bay team often saw leads that exceeded two or three scores and almost immediately, the defense went into prevent mode.  It resulted in Packers opponents racking up near record yardage in an effort to come back.  While that wasn't really what led to their early playoff exit that season, it was still a bad trend to have watched all season long.

Over the last decade, it seems that teams that play their game to the end come out ahead.  Two examples that directly related to the Packers:  The '07 and '11 Giants, who both won with relentless pressure on the quarterback.  Blitzing Rodgers has never proven to be wise but in that game, it kept him off balance and the Packers offense couldn't get in any type of rhythm.  It seems that teams that are willing to continue to trust themselves to come up big and stick to their strategy (running game, blitzing, etc) are the ones that are winning games and prolonging their season.

This Packers team has to impose its will on the opponent and establish, early on, who they are and that they're coming full throttle until the final whistle.  This team, minus a few exceptions, doesn't tend to fall into a lot of luck and so expecting the success to fall into their lap won't be the way to achieve success.  They have to keep after it and sprint to the finish line in 2016.

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (39)

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Bearmeat's picture

April 11, 2016 at 06:43 am

I agree Jason. MM and/or AR have screwed up - causing the season to end prematurely - in 09, 11 and 14. You could make arguments for 12 and 13 too - albeit not as ironclad. This team (and decade) will be an utter failure if they don't win at least one more title. They have to put the pedal down (from a personnel, coaching and player standpoint) and play to win. Not to avoid losing.

I will say though that the Giants got pressure AND stopped the run with their front 4. This meant they never had to blitz and could cover with 7 all game. That, and that alone (with maybe a hat tip to Eli going into Robocop Mode) won those 2 titles for NY.

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MarkinMadison's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:02 am

I will always discount '11. Went to the game. Went to a Packers event before the game. Philbin's son had just died. Philbin was not there. Mentally, the offense was not there. DD tried to wake everyone up, but it was not happening. I get that sometimes you rise above in situations like that, like Favre in Oakland. But the reality is that losing a son is very different than losing a father. Having a player walk onto the field is very different than having a coach say, "sorry, I need to be with my family right now." Players knew this kid. So I always just say forget '11.

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NickPerry's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:06 am

Me too Mark. The Offense commited 12 TO's in the 15 games started by Rodgers that season and commited 4 in that 2011 Playoff Game. Philbin wasn't there the whole week which can't be ignored.

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jinxcat's picture

April 11, 2016 at 11:06 pm

I agree totally about Philbin and his son's death. Tony Dungee had a similar situation and it cast very dark clouds over that game too.

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RCPackerFan's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:17 am

'causing the season to end prematurely - in 09'

Wasn't the last game in '09 against Arizona? In which the team was in OT, and Rodgers fumbled the ball on the play in which the guy torqued his head with his facemask causing the fumble?

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Bearmeat's picture

April 11, 2016 at 08:01 am

Yes it was. It was also the game that the play right before that AR missed a wide open Jennings on a deep post pattern for a game ending TD.

GB should have won that game. Just like it should have won in 13 against the 9ers. 14 against the Seahawks. And this last year against the Cards again.

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dobber's picture

April 11, 2016 at 12:06 pm

OK, I'm a fan--maybe even a homer--but I have a hard time saying the Packers "should have" beaten the Cards in January. I think they could have won that game. They put themselves in a position to have a chance...but to say they should have is a little bit of a stretch.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Fair. :(

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Tundraboy's picture

April 11, 2016 at 03:13 pm

Agree. Being so shorthanded being in a position to win was all that could have been expected.

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cheezit's picture

April 11, 2016 at 01:30 pm

I find it hard to put that loss on Rodgers. It's true he had two costly bad plays at the end of the game (if you don't count the chinups-on-his-facemask as negating one of them), but he also threw for four touchdowns and ran in another. If the defense had merely showed up that day (rather than giving up five touchdowns and about four hundred yards to Kurt Warner - who was very good that year, but not passer-rating-of-154.1 good), the Pack win that game handily against a very good Cardinals team.

Also, as a complete aside, I will note that a certain Packer in his second year with the team who had mostly played as a kick returner that season and who wouldn't explode until late in the playoffs the next year had one reception for eleven yards in that game.

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Chris Pattee's picture

April 12, 2016 at 12:38 pm

I hated the ending of that game. That game will haunt me forever. And to this day, they still show that last play Will Rogers gets face mask and the Cardinals steal it for the touchdown. I remember I kept waiting for the facemask call that never came!!

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croatpackfan's picture

April 11, 2016 at 06:51 am

Interesting points, Jasone. I agree with you that, at the end Packers lost some close game partly because opponents were more lucky than Packers. But "luck is the residue of the design" as one wise man said once, so it has more with Packers game presentation than with some misterious ways.
I agree with you that it would be nice and good for Packers to play full strenght through whole game, all 19 (20) weeks (games) in season. Do not pay attention on the opponents! If you can put score 60:0 put it. If you stop playing early, that will not save dignity of your opponent. It will produce loss of it and additional negative effect - self-deception. Sometimes (always?) it is better to know how bad you are than to continue to the future with false hope. Not only in football. In life as well...
So, I hope to see "mean" Packers with full throttle - pedal to the metal...

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NickPerry's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:07 am

I think this is a make or break year for MM and maybe even TT. This will be McCarthys 11th season, a long, long time in the NFL for a HC. The Packers are 8-7 under McCarthy in the Playoffs including 3 one and dones. That magical 2010 season produced exactly half of McCarthys Playoff wins in the 8 seasons they've made the Playoffs under MM.

MM has to get and stay on the same page with Rodgers IMO this season. The tension we've seen the last year, the comments made by Sitton, Lang, and Rodgers to the media about the offense has to stop, keep it in the Locker Room. I still believe that last season was an anomoly. I still believe this offense can do what it did in 2014 and seasons before, maybe even better but it starts and really ends with MM and AR, those 2 HAVE to be on the same page. If that happens then I like the Packers chances. If not change might not be far off.

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Razer's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:04 am

To impose your will, you must have the personnel that can dominate. Neither our O-line or D-line fit this bill.

On offense, running the clock out has not been an option and we actually took a step back last year. In the big games against the better D-lines we don't get the push for our phat back to get through. If you are going to play the 'protect the lead' game then you better have the horses to execute.

On defense, we have gotten better but we still need a little more disruption up front. With the departure of Raji, we will need to rebuild the core of the line so that teams can't run free. Needless to say, we have work to do if we want to impose our will this year.

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Bearmeat's picture

April 11, 2016 at 11:18 am

I agree with you on defense - it's been ok the past 16 games, but not by any means dominant.

However, that might not matter. As long as they are average on defense, they can win it all based on a dominant offense. And let's face it, this team is constructed to outscore other teams.

So I clearly do think the current OL has the ability to run it with a trimmed down Lacy regardless of personnel on the other side of the ball. They were just beat up BIG TIME last year. I do think this year the offense will be back to scoring any way they want - like in 2014.

Scary for other teams in the NFCN. :)

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PackerBacker's picture

April 11, 2016 at 04:04 pm

I agree Bearmeat. I think this OL can be dominant. Last year they had too many injuries and hardly anyone was playing full strength. When healthy, they are one of the best OL's in the league.

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mrtundra's picture

April 11, 2016 at 06:05 pm

Here's hoping TT can draft a solid back up, or two, along the O line so we don't have to worry so much about injuries creating a drop off in performance. Also, as a team, we have to take care of business in the NFC North and stop losing at home. Splitting with everyone in the division is not a recipe for success.

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NickPerry's picture

April 11, 2016 at 06:41 pm

I don't think the loss of Raji is going to be THAT big. Losing Pennel AND Raji is tough but the Packers get Boyd (JAG), have Guion who played NT in 2014 better than Raji last year. TT just has to finally hit on a D-Lineman like he did in 2012 with Daniels.

The O-Line had so many injures and the coaching staff never figured out until week 18 Tretter was the 6th best OL on the roster. 2 D-Linemen, 2 O-Linemen, ILB and OLB in the first 6 picks would help with depth and hopefully 2 or 3 new starters or players who play at least 400 - 500 snaps.

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Lphill's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:17 am

How about keep scoring ? Is MM afraid to hurt someone's feelings? He had taken his foot off the gas way too many times.

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4thand1's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:09 pm

agreed, MM has always coached that way. Nice guys finish last, except the lolions.

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The TKstinator's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:48 am

Just win, baby. If you do, your style of play was correct. If you don't, it wasn't. It's just that simple.

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EdsLaces's picture

April 11, 2016 at 07:56 am

Yes if you can rely on the front 4 to get pressure all game it can win games for you. Daniels is a stud but he needs another big man that can get to the qb along side him. Billings or Rankins could give us what we néed up front to get another ring.

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Tundraboy's picture

April 11, 2016 at 08:42 am

For me a great ending this season will put to rest the heartbreaking endings that linger. Pedal to the metal!

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Point-Packer's picture

April 11, 2016 at 09:34 am

MM's choke artist coaching is one of the most under-reported stories of GBs last decade. Guy has been a disaster in the playoffs, minus 2010. As I've previously stated, if we end the Rodgers era the same way we ended the Favre era (one SB), it will be a massive failure.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 11, 2016 at 10:03 am

I don't see how one can label MM as a choke coach. I really don't see it.

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dobber's picture

April 11, 2016 at 11:51 am

It's not much different from saying that the Bills of the 90s were choke artists...you need to win a lot of big games to get to 4 straight SBs.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm

I'm not sure if you're agreeing or disagreeing.

Let's define the word "choke".

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dobber's picture

April 11, 2016 at 12:07 pm

I am agreeing with you! :)

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Tundraboy's picture

April 11, 2016 at 03:14 pm

Too conservative and sometimes too passive yes, but choke artist, no.

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The TKstinator's picture

April 11, 2016 at 04:25 pm

Only because sometimes they lose.

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PackerBacker's picture

April 11, 2016 at 04:19 pm

I'd like to know how MM choked in the playoff games and how that had a direct effect on the outcome of the game.
I remember a number of plays where players could have played better. But I have to admit that I haven't ever walked away from a playoff game thinking that MM screwed it up and was directly to blame. Indirectly as coach, sure. But never it being his fault specifically.

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TarynsEyes's picture

April 11, 2016 at 11:35 am

In order to not let up one must first learn to remain upright.
As Rocky said in Rocky 2..."I ain't going down no more" needs to be the mantra and not allowing the entry into the championship rounds be an acceptance as success to not winning the crown.
Fingers can be pointed in many a direction but they all end with the same result of late...failure.
One winner and everyone else lost regardless of placement.

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PaulRosik's picture

April 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Good thing for this article or the Packers would have taken it easy and have a year off in 2016.

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PaulRosik's picture

April 11, 2016 at 04:47 pm

I think the next article on the site will be titled "The Packers Have to Really Want to Win in 2016." They will get Captain Obvious to guest write it.

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jasonperone's picture

April 11, 2016 at 10:15 pm

I can't lie, that's not happening and mostly because it wouldn't make for good reading or get any traffic but, like this here piece right here, you'll be by to read the next one we DO put up. Trust me, we'll take your vote, however it's painted!

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RobinsonDavis's picture

April 11, 2016 at 02:43 pm

Thank you for the article, Jason! Admittedly, it matches my frustration to the lack of attention by the coaches & personnel staff to address injuries and lack of key depth EARLY in the season. We had known injuries throughout the WR ranks, known early injury issues on the OLine coupled with a lack of depth at OT, suspensions/injuries on the DLine, and severe lack of ILB depth in addition to a lack of ability to cover an RB out of the backfield. We KNEWWW THIS and addressed it with JJ (thank you James Jones!), & hiring back a cut we made at ILB because we don't dare cut a TT draft pick favorite (thanks Joe Thomas!). Then we had our big $$ QB misfiring WHEN targets were open, having to hold the ball too long behind a banged-up OLine and a marginal running attack that allowed opposing defenses to ignore the rush...yet we ran the same offense. HUH? I am hearing Jim Mora in my head.."PLAYOFFS??!!!" ...There, I feel better!!! The point is - The coaching and personnel team needs to do their job, too! .....Time for my medication......

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White92's picture

April 11, 2016 at 06:04 pm

It's really tough for me to be too upset with last years loss. All week leading up to the game every "expert" out there thought the Packers would get killed..especially that homer Kurt Warner on NFLN. The Packers nearly pulled it off. Should they have won? I cant really say they should have, but there are no moral victories.

The year before, they should have won. That being said, the situation was similar. They were on the road, vs a supposed vastly superior opponent. Yet the Packers dominated for 58 minutes. They should have shocked the world and played the dream SB vs NE.

It's just very tough for me to be too upset when the team was on the road and a big underdog. Hopefully that won't be the case this year.

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NickPerry's picture

April 12, 2016 at 05:50 am

I'm with you White92, I'm never happy when the Packers lose but considering all the injuries including Cobb in the 1st quarter, the Packers outplayed the Cardinals in that game. It also seems to happen EVERY TIME the Packers have a playoff game in Arizona, they get screwed by the Refs. I for one was happy with the effort, just not the result.

2009 season they lose when the Carinal defender is doing a Pullup on Rodgers Facemask yet nothing is called.

2015 season the Cardinals get a lucky bounce and the ball ends up in a WR's hands. Never mind John Brown began blocking Hayward the moment the ball was snapped. By the time the play was over Brown had shoved Hayward 5 yards deep in the endzone.

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LeagueObsrvr's picture

April 13, 2016 at 05:38 pm

.

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