There certainly is a lot of negative commentary surrounding the Green Bay Packers, right now. We’ve provided quite a bit of it ourselves, and rightfully so, the Packers stunk up the joint on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
You’ve got Cullen Jenkins openly questioning Dom Capers’ handling of the defense. There’s the statistical disparity between the Packers when they play the Vikings and when they play a team that sucks, like the Cleveland Browns. We’ve ruminated on the uphill battle the team will have to make the playoffs, concluding that a disappointing 8-8 season isn’t out of the question.
But the season is far from lost. The Packers aren’t even at the halfway point yet and there’s a lot of football left to be played.
Well, I know that like me, your first reaction is – that doesn’t matter if the Packers continue to play like they did on Sunday. That’s true, but there are also signs that this team could be on the verge of pulling it together. And no, inserting Mark Tauscher into the starting lineup isn’t going to be the silver bullet that does it.
The word doesn’t carry a positive connotation, but the outcome may. It depends on how the Packers react to it.
There’s no doubt the Packers are facing it right now. The playoffs will be an uphill battle, the team’s warts are clearly visible and the frustration in the locker room is evident. There are two ways the Packers can go — they can let the adversity they now face tear them apart and we can flush this season down the toilet, or they can pull together as a team, toughen up, face their challenges head on and become stronger for it.
Al Harris, in an email to The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen, suggested the Packers will do the latter. Bowen, a former member of the Packers, agreed.
“Look, not every family is perfect, and most are dysfunctional at times,” Harris wrote. “You might be seeing a little of that right now, however, we are family, we have to stick together and I and my teammates will support Dom, his system and all our coaches. We are all players and coaches in this fight together and have to share responsibility and blame. We are at war and will fight for each other. That’s how it’s going to be for the rest of this season.”
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise because most teams in this league are resilient in that they seem to thrive off certain types of adversity. Personally, I think adversity of any kind is good for NFL teams. It brings them back down to earth, forces them to do more self-scouting and pushes them in the right direction. You evaluate the entire team and make the necessary changes. Good teams respond in these situations. And, right now, the Packers are stuck in the middle of some major adversity, Bowen wrote.
I would tend to agree that the chances of the Packers pulling together is greater than them crumbling. Remember, despite being the youngest team in the NFL (again), the Packers have a strong veteran presence. This team has guys who’ve been through countless battles, been in the playoffs and been on both good and bad teams — Al Harris, Nick Barnett, Mark Tauscher, Chad Clifton, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver and Ahman Green.
Now is the time for these guys step up and pull this team together.
The pressure is off
The Packers two games against the Vikings and Brett Favre were surrounded by a media frenzy. They took on a playoff-like atmosphere. The pressure to win those two games had to be greater on Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers and company than any in their career.
That pressure is gone now. Now, the Packers can put the distractions and their emotions aside and just play football. No more questions about Favre, no more circus-like atmosphere, no more weight of the entire Packers Nation on your shoulders. It’s back to business as usual.
Take a sigh of relief and refocus.
The Packers go on four-week run that includes the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Nov. 8) and the one-win Detroit Lions (Nov. 26). In between, the Packers have two winnable home games with Dallas (Nov. 15) and San Francisco (Nov. 22) before going into the toughest part of their schedule.
In the coming weeks, we’ll have a good idea of what this Packers team looks like without the Brett Favre monkey clawing up their back.
This isn’t to say the Packers won’t have pressure to win, but it will be no different than any other non-Brett Favre weekend. That can only be a good thing.
While there’s understandably a lot of disappointment in the Packers, right now, I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. A lot of things can happen between now and week 17. Hopefully, one of those things is the Packers will emerge from their post-Favre slumber, take on an us-against-the-world attitude and start kicking some fucking teeth in.