Should Pack Pursue Perfection?Posted:Dec 7th, 2011 5:45 pm
One of the things you'll hear more often in the next few weeks than Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" is the endless speculation about whether Mike McCarthy will take his foot off the pedal in the final week or two, should the Packers remain undefeated and have the number one seed wrapped up.
Everyone will weigh in. Former coaches, players, TV talking heads, radio guys like yours truly. The truth is, no one outside the halls of 1265 Lombardi Avenue has any idea what the Pack would do. Naturally, all kinds of factors could shape the decision. What if Aaron Rodgers tweaks an ankle in Week 16 and is OK, but could use two weeks to make sure it's right. What if it's five below zero with winds howling on January 1st? Do you give some of your important veterans the day off and say, 'let's rest up for the divisional weekend?'
Here's what we know: since 1998, five teams have started the season 12-0. Two went on to win the Super Bowl, two lost it and one lost in their first playoff game. We've seen teams embrace their shot at history (Patriots) only to fall agonizingly short in the big game. We've seen teams rest their guys (Colts) and also fall short in the big game.
Everybody understands that the first and top priority for every football team is to win the Super Bowl. The Packers have a shot to go back to back and that is their ultimate goal. But once you reach 12-0, you start to think in historical terms. You have a chance to be considered the greatest football team of all time, or at least of the Super Bowl era. So many things have to go right to get to 12-0. Once you're there, and your team is relatively healthy, and the schedule seems to favor you, how do you tell the 53 guys in the locker room that they're going to stay on the bench for the last game or two of the regular season? That their chance at history is being taken out of their hands.
I fully believe that the Packers are going to go for it. Mike McCarthy is aggressive by nature. You see it in his play calling. You see it when he wins the coin toss and defers to allow his defense to take the field first. A chance to separate this team from all the others that came before it in Titletown? You can bet Paul Hornung's casino chips that they're going to give it a shot.
Worst case scenario, in a meaningless game on Week 17 the Packers suffer a significant injury that staggers their hopes for a Super Bowl repeat. I won't be criticizing McCarthy and the front office for allowing it to happen. I want history. I want 19-0. I want to stop hearing from Mercury Morris, Larry Czonka and the rest of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who keep champagne on ice every year until the last of the unbeatens fall.
For now, the team will continue to say all the right things: We have other goals in front of us. We have accomplished our first goal, winning the North, next up is home field advantage. Right now, we're thinking about getting to 13-0 and on and on. It's in the back of everyone's minds, though. A shot at perfection--to be considered the best team ever.
You can take it to the bank: the Pack will take their best shot at it.