Teams and team leaders are always talking about having an identity. That is, a working blueprint for how they’re going to operate as a football team. It’s an understanding of expectations on a man-to-man, as well as team basis. There’s a certain smoothness and consistency one can expect when a team has fully embraced its identity.
Heading into this season the Green Bay Packers were that of a finesse team. There was no running game to speak of and both the offensive and defensive lines were capable of being dominated. It was the play of Aaron Rodgers and the aerial offense that was the strength of the Packers. It was understood that no matter how poor the Packers played in the other phases of the game, Rodgers and the offense were always going to keep the Packers competitive. We all knew going in that Green Bay was good for 30 points and we were fairly sure that would be enough to hold up for the win.
Yet at the same time, wasn’t that consistency a little boring… a little stale? Okay, I suppose seeing both the Packers offense and defense at full strength and at the height of their powers today would be a grand sight to behold, but then again wouldn’t the results be a little predictable? Instead of being favored by 10 the Packers would be favored by 14½ and we’d all feel warm and fuzzy about the fact that Green Bay is going to trounce the Cleveland Browns today. There would be very little uncertainty about it.
Instead with the myriad of Packers injuries, we’re left with plenty of question marks and a plethora of potential scenarios as to how today’s game will unfold. Will it be the new-found dedication to the running game that enables us to out-physical the upstart Browns? Will it be a big play on defense that turns a close game in Green Bay’s favor? Will the Packers blow off the notion that their injured wide receivers really make that big of a difference to the All-World quarterback as he throws for 400 yards? Will the Packers get shut down and be faced with a painful home loss?
There is joy to be found in this uncertainty and now is the time to revel in it. Take that angst and nervousness about what might happen in today’s game and let it envelope you because there’s a very high likelihood that this game will not be very pretty. The buildup and uncertainty leading up to it might be the best part.
Last week’s game wasn’t pretty, but at least it was emphatic as the Packers dominated the uber-tough Ravens. This week, the Packers may not be capable of dominating anyone.
A team’s identity is a choice they make… usually. The Packers identity has been forced upon them this year. They are a chameleon, adapting to the hand they’ve been dealt and continuing to figure out ways to win.
How will they win today?