Packers XLV

Opportunity Knocks for the Pack.

Posted January 4th, 2021 @ 04:01pm

I'm not going to write much about the Pack's win at Soldier Field. Rodgers was brilliant, the defense was more than solid and Mitch was Mitch. Today I want to write about a special season during unprecedented times and what the next month might bring.

Think about where this organization is today, and then think back to two years ago, when the season was finally, mercifully over, the Pack was 6-9-1 and on the hunt for a new head coach who could resuscitate the organization and flip the script on Rodgers' waning years.

The decision to hire Matt LaFleur was met with derision by some, scorn by others and a non-ending yawn by most. This is the guy to revive Rodgers and the Pack's offense? A 30-something unknown with one year of play calling under his belt, one that primarily consisted of 'hand the ball off to Derrick Henry and get out of his way?'

Then just eight months ago, the Packers draft was met by derision, scorn and, well definitely not a yawn. Everyone had an opinion about the Packers draft, including me. And yet here the Packers sit, the top seed in the NFC and just two home wins away from a trip to the Super Bowl. That unknown coach has led the Pack to back to back 13 win seasons, something Green Bay accomplished a grand total of four times under Holmgren and McCarthy in 20 years. And his system has breathed new life into Rodgers and will result in his third MVP award on Super Bowl eve.

There is no more talk about the weak roster around Rodgers. There is no more talk about the lack of weapons around Rodgers. Brian Gutekunst and his staff (along with Ted Thompson) have put together a roster that includes the best offensive line in the NFL, the game's best wide reveiver, a deep backfield led by a top ten back, a vastly improved defense with a stud in the middle of line, three strong pass rushers, some youth and athleticism (finally) at inside linebacker, a shutdown corner and a pair of safeties that were the best in football over the second half of the season.

It adds up to opportunity. Opportunity right now for this Packers team to grab hold of this impressive season and bring home the Lombardi trophy, to give Rodgers a second ring that will finally and forever elevate him into the select group of best quarterbacks ever. A second ring would put him on most peoples' QB Mount Rushmore and maybe more importantly to us Packer fans, will silence Vikings and Bears fans who delight in reminding us that Green Bay has 'just' two Super Bowl victories during the Favre-Rodgers eras. Yes, there have been playoff disappointments, none bigger than the '14 and '07 NFC title games.

Opportunity right now because in a year when home field advantage was completely neutralized, Green Bay is one of just two playoff teams (Buffalo is the other) where the weather conditions can be more important than a stadium full of fans.

Opportunity because you never know what next year might bring. Yes, the Packers will bring back a very talented roster, but injuries are an unknown, David Bakhtiari may not return till '22, other NFC teams will bounce back (SF worries me if they locate a quarterback) and then there's the schedule, which will feature road games in San Francisco, New Orleans and Baltimore and home games against the Steelers, Seahawks Rams and Browns. If a 17th game is added, it will likely mean a date with the Chiefs. 13 wins seems like a stretch in 2021.

So this is the Packers' time. The stars have aligned. There isn't a big, bad NFC playoff team in the field. Yes, there are three other hall of fame QBs, Brees, Brady and Wilson, but those teams are all flawed to varying degrees. If the favorites win this weekend, the Pack will open the playoffs with a date with Brady and the Bucs, a rematch of the Packers' worst game of the season--this time at Lambeau in January.

The Packers are poised to do special things over the next few weeks. They've already delivered 16 weeks of spine-tingling diversion during a time in our lives when there's not that much to get excited about. To see Rodgers return to MVP brilliance and silence his critics, to see Davante Adams evolve into an elite wide receiver, to see a defense improve week by week with stars on all three levels. This is what we've been waiting for.

The Packers are two home wins from a trip to Tampa. If they don't get there it will be a major disappointment. But in the grand scheme of things, this Packers season has been precisely what we needed and exactly what we hoped for. Now we have nearly two weeks till the playoff journey begins. Two weeks to wait, to hope, to dream.

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Comments (10):

Davy....You are a Pultizer price winning writer but this piece was your best ever. I as much as anyone on this site...with THE VOICE trying to keep me in line has been critical of TT and Gutey. the late great Al Davis said.."Just Win Baby" . So far....the ends have justified the means so I give the organzation credit. A side note on losing never know how you will come back from an ACL injury. So...I think we may be at least looking for an offensive tackle very high in the draft. But ...thats for then lets enjoy the present. GO PACK GO !!

on January 4th, 2021 at 02:16pm

Dave Where was Dillon? After his "breakout" game, he could have been a significant factor, complimentary to #12! The broadcast team(Fox) never mentioned this that I'm aware of. Please comment for GB fans. Thanks Joe

on January 4th, 2021 at 03:24pm

Wow, that’s some great writing!! Go Pack

on January 4th, 2021 at 11:35am

Well written piece Dave. We Packer Fans have surely seen a lot. For me, the loss to the Giants (glad I had enough clothes), and that agonizing loss to Seattle are 2 strikes. No strike 3 this time. This team is ready to win it all.

on January 4th, 2021 at 12:41pm

It has been a pleasure to watch this team compete this season. I'm not an all or nothing guy, so the rest is just Icing, but I do like Icing. I would like to say that the Bear's plan for the game was a good one. The defense just over came it. They didn't get gassed and they stayed mentally tough. Those long drives didn't phase them. It was really impressive to watch. The D just dared the Bears try to win getting 3 to 4 yards a play. Then you look at even the last drive with nothing on the line. How easy would it have been to just let them score, knowing they weren't really trying to win the game anymore. They wouldn't have it. Mitch is denied his scramble in. Alexander Says hell no the next play. It was lovely. The Offensive line held up well. The lack of touches for Dillon is telling. Dafney was good. He looks like the tight end/full back hybrid we need. He didn't do every right but it was a nice start. Mostly though, I have a big smile on my face because we still have meaningful football to play and a good chance to win against any opponent. Go Pack!

on January 4th, 2021 at 12:58pm

Voice, The Dillon thing is trivial. I think it come down to resigning Jones because he is a true difference maker and going cheap there feels like a mistake. Otherwise... Let's talk some draft! I want the 32nd over all pick. Period. End of draft talk. ;)

on January 6th, 2021 at 02:03pm

What's with the angst about Dillon not getting any touches? Did you guys notice the Packers only had a little over 40 offensive plays and still put up 35 points? HELLO?!? There's only one ball in play at any one time, and to be that efficient with the offense should be something to behold, not belittle. C'mon, guys! NEVER CRITICIZE WINNING!!! Unless something really goes belly-up, this is a team that doesn't have a serious challenger in the NFC. Let this thing play out, sit back and watch. These are the good times - never forget that.

on January 6th, 2021 at 10:38am

I think the guys make good points on Dillon. He's third in the pecking order this season and likely #1 or #2 next season. He may get a few snaps in the playoffs, especially in cold weather, but Jones and Williams are the reliable, veteran options as the stakes go up.

on January 7th, 2021 at 02:04pm

Oops. A little fact-check correction to make: Over the past 25 years the Packers are tied with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, NY Giants for 3rd place with 2 Super Bowl wins and in appearances for third with Seattle and the Rams in the NFL. Denver has 4 appearances and 3 wins. New England, of course, leads all in both wins and appearnces. Still a pretty damn good record in spite of the numerous disappointments.

on January 9th, 2021 at 02:34pm

An excellent summation of the last 2 years in Packer football but some even larger context is worth mentioning here. Over the last 28 seasons the Packers have had 22 winning years, 21 playoff seasons, only 4 losing seasons and 2 .500 years. The man who really laid the foundation for this extraordinary success is former club president and CEO Bob Harlan. Harlan worked in the Packer front office thru the long "years in the wilderness" after Lombardi before eventually rising to become the top officer in the organization. He was told the Packers would never be great again but refused to accept that premise. He was also determined after the Pack came back under his watch to never again allow a reversion to the habits and ways that had resulted in that long losing period of the '70's and '80's. Since 1992 the Packers have never been out of the playoffs more than two years in a row. Even though he's been retired since 2008 Harlan's stamp has remained on the Packers and their ways of doing football business. Mark Murphy followed Harlan's model when he made the leadership changes of head coach and GM in 2018 and Murphy's own hire is directly related to Harlan. Bob Harlan has put his "DNA" into the Packer organization in a way that not even Lambeau or Lombardi were able to do. It might also be worth a "tip of the cap" to former GM Ted Thompson, a Harlan hire, too. If you look at some of the most important players to the Packers' success of the last two seasons you'll find a long list of players brought to Green Bay by TT: Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Kenny Clark, Mason Crosby, Lane Taylor. TT had his flaws and it was the right move to make under the circumstances of the time to replace him. It was a "Harlan-esque" move by Murphy. But he did leave behind some vital "stuff" for Gutey and LaFleur to build on. The only thing the Packers haven't been able to achieve on the "Harlan line" over the past quarter century is the kind of Super Bowl record like New England or Dallas in the '90's. But with 3 appearances and 2 wins only Pittsburgh has played in more and the Steelers and Ravens won as many as 2 as Green Bay over the past quarter century. Like Vince Lombardi said: Winning is a habit.

on January 9th, 2021 at 07:03am

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