5 quick thoughts on the Packers as we get into the long and painful offseason of football –
1. The organization’s initial public responses to the defensive issues exposed by the 49ers seem to indicate that Dom Capers will be back. Mike Mccarthy and Kevin Greene pooh-poohed the questions related to Dom Capers’ job status and there have been no reports of the Packers interviewing others for the job. While on the face of it these look like bad decisions, I am not so sure . Yes Capers was outcoached and exposed a few times these past few years. But if the goal was to figure out how to defend spread and zone read offenses, do we know who would be a better coordinator and is that person available? I don’t fault the Packers too much here and my hope is they have done their due diligence and figured out better ways to prepare and execute on defense. Otherwise another year of Aaron Rodgers’ prime may just be wasted.
2. The Packers have made the playoffs four consecutive years. This is a shining example and one as good as any of the unique coaching and drafting the organization has done. But it gets harder. ZERO NFC teams have made the playoffs five years in a row since the league went to 32 teams and eight divisions in 2002. ZERO. Only three teams have done it in the AFC – The Patriots (2003-2007), Ravens (2008-2012) and the incredible Peyton Manning Colts (2002-2010).
Let that sink in. This is how hard it is to make the playoffs five years in a row. It takes a lot of skill, coaching, injury-luck and good overall fortune to achieve something like this. The Packers have the quarterback, GM and coach to make a run like those above but let’s not be surprised if they do not because the odds are against them from making the playoffs in 2013.
3. With all the coaching and GM vacancies filled, the nature of the Packers’ 2013 opponents is a lot clearer. Within the division the Packers will be taking on a brand new look Chicago Bears. They will have a very different look on both sides of the ball now that they are coached by a former West coast offense Guru and recent CFL head coach.
The two games versus them will require every different preparation to what the Packers have done so far versus them. The out-of-conference games are versus the AFC North. The Packers will have to contend at home with a new look Cleveland Browns now coached by Rob Chudzinski the mastermind behind the big play Cam Newton led Carolina offense. I am sure he is salivating over some of the footage from last Saturday. The Packers also have to defend at home against Robert Griffin III and the new look Philadelphia Eagles and whatever funky offense
Mr. Chip Kelly decides to implement. Lastly they also have a road tilt versus Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick. *Gulp*. So that’s at least six games where their opponents have offensive schemes and game plans designed to take advantage of something the Packers have been exposed of. That’s also four games versus teams that the Packers are likely to not have a lot of film on. If the schedule shapes up where the Packers start off with games versus Philly, Cleveland and Chicago, BEWARE.
4. Player interviews are usually boring. They are full of clichés and painstakingly intended to offend no one. Aaron Rodgers has surprised me a lot over the years being more candid and direct than most athletes of his stature. His most recent conversation on 1/15/13 with Jason Wilde on his weekly radio show was compelling radio. He speaks in detail about some of the game situations that fans like me have had qualms about and also talks about his progression of reads and why the thought that the Packers can make 3rd down decisions based on what they would do on a hypothetical fourth down are wrong. Rodgers also talks about how the team would cope with losses of key players next season. The whole interview was very educational and credit to the host Jason Wilde for letting Rodgers talk and for also asking so many of the right questions. Please do give it a listen.
5. Lastly the Packers have a lot more change coming to them this offseason than the past couple. It is almost a given that Greg Jennings will move on as a free agent and Donald Driver will be cut. It is also likely that Charles Woodson, AJ Hawk and Jermichael Finley won’t be back. One or more of Clay Matthews, BJ Raji and Aaron Rodgers will be extended on a record/league-best contract. James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson will suddenly all see their touches increased. I trust Aaron Rodgers and Mike Mccarthy to overcome all of this but it will not be remotely easy.
Enjoy the offseason everybody and Go Pack, Go