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Packers’ Best Motivation is Desperation

The opponent’s talent, the game’s location, the team’s injury status, the play calling, Aaron Rodgers’ love life – these are all significant factors as to how well the Green Bay Packers will perform on a given game day. Of all the performance factors, however, motivation seems to be the strongest.

From the first set of downs on Monday evening, the Packers demonstrated a strong desire to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. The team came out with the juice that coach Mike McCarthy promised three weeks ago after the home loss to the Colts, but failed to materialize in the following blowout losses to the Titans and Redskins.

The team was energized on Monday in a way that was lacking for the past four games. The solid win is a reminder that motivation – or if you prefer, commitment, determination, resolve, energy, or juice – is an essential ingredient for any very good team.

No Talent Shortage

The game also made evident that the 2016 version of the Packers is not a team of mediocre talent. While injuries have been rampant, this was a deep roster and, other than at running back and inside linebacker, the team had replacements capable of filling in adequately.

In the Packers’ hallmark skill, the passing attack, the wide receivers, quarterback, and offensive line positions are all manned by talented, experienced, and proven players. The only injury (or player release) issue has been with the linemen, and Lane Taylor, Jason Spriggs, and Don Barclay have filled in when called upon and afforded great protection to Rodgers all year long.

Broadcaster Jon Gruden had it right when he noted on Monday that the Packers sent out four first-round draft choices to harass quarterback Carson Wentz: Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Datone Jones. This veteran group has plenty of talent and on Monday came up with the necessary motivation to keep the game from becoming a shootout. The foursome needs to keep playing with this level of commitment if the team’s tenuous playoff hopes are to stay alive.

As to the defensive backfield, it’s simply too easy and lazy to write this group off as untalented. Young and undrafted players need time to develop – LaDarius Gunter, Quinten Rollins, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix showed progress against the Eagles. Kentrell Brice, Marwin Evans, and Josh Hawkins need more time – it helped that all three were confined to special teams snaps on Monday. Damarious Randall has nowhere to go but up and Micah Hyde also needs to contribute more.

Even without a competent running back, this roster has the talent and experience needed to make the playoffs, but do they have the necessary motivation?

Has Motivation Come Too late?

Over the past several years, the Packers have performed best (in the regular season) when faced with must-win situations. This, unfortunately, is not the mark of a team that is going deep into the playoffs.

Last year, the Packers had secured a playoff berth by the time they faced Minnesota at home in the regular season finale. The motivation of winning the division and getting a home game should have been enough for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. It wasn’t and Green Bay lost 20-13 to the less-talented Vikings.

The Packers’ last four opponents have been run-of-the-mill teams. A loss to one or the other is not surprising, but I don’t see any way to explain consecutive blowout losses to the Titans and Redskins, except that the Packers didn’t show up ready to play or win. They simply had a giant midseason motivational slump.

The comfortable and ball-control-style win against the Eagles has rejuvenated the best fans in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is fully back to his old form. Monday was the first time in close to a year that he had none of those inexplicable way-off-target throws. He’s back to throwing quickly, crisply, accurately, and with purpose.

Perhaps as importantly, Rodgers’ “we-can-run-the-table” pronouncement last Wednesday appeared to make believers out of his teammates. It was a vast improvement on his “I’m-not-a-rah-rah-guy” comments made after the loss to the Colts.

With Rodgers providing leadership in the clubhouse and on the field, this team is neither down, nor out, of the running.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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9 Comments

  1. ANTI-MCCARTHY FAN December 1, 2016

    https://www.change.org/p/mark-h-murphy-at-the-end-of-the-2016-nfl-season-replace-mike-mccarthy-ted-thompson-and-dom-capers?source_location=topic_page

    people please sign this petition. Those of you questioning, changes even happen after petitions are signed. For example, people wanted semi trucks banned from US Route 129 and got alot of supporters and they were banned. Time for Packer Nation, TotalPackers users, MMTTDCSUCK (make your rant about those 3), and every non packer fans to please loud and proud explain why McCarthy should be gone. And fuck the Packers for beating Philly, they should lose all their games until MM is gone. FUCK MAN COME ON SIGN THE PETITION ALL OF YOU.

    1. Savage57 December 1, 2016

      24 signatures. Talk about your groundswell of support. One of the comments was especially interesting, kind of a sign post for the folks who grab onto this stuff and believe anyone actually pays attention. “Chanel is needed.” Now there’s a comment that underlines the problem and adds credibility to the cause.

    2. PF4L December 1, 2016

      Letter to
      Mark H. Murphy
      Executive Commitee of the Green Bay Packers
      Thomas L. Olson
      Board of Directors of the Green Bay Packers
      At the end of the 2016 NFL season replace Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson and Dom Capers.

      That’s the letter your sending?

      That’s it?

      That one sentence letter is going to get a tenured Super Bowl winning GM, HC, and a DC fired?

      Not to be a grammar cop, but if you are sending a letter to high profile executives asking them to make an employment decision concerning three high level positions, at least proof read it to avoid spelling errors. Plus making an articulated case other than 1 sentence, also wouldn’t hurt.

      Have you thought this out?

      1. PF4L December 1, 2016

        This guys thoughts should also help…lol. Nothing exudes credibility like stating Rodgers is washed up and must go. I wouldn’t wipe my ass with this petition.

        “A huge change is needed before this team will become a playoff caliber team again. Also Rodgers is washed up and must go !!!”

        James Niles, Lyndon Station, WI

  2. Mike December 1, 2016

    Sure doesn’t seem to work with Play-Off games???? McSlob in play-offs is SURE DOOM. I could FKG careless about all these McCarthy supporters. I HATED the hire when it happened & nothing will ever change my thght on that Incompetent clueless F%$K!!! Every Analyst on ESPN prior to MNF said basically what a lot of us think on this sight. We have best HOF QB in NFL, and nothing else. That’s on the anal sphincter walking dead TED.

  3. Mike December 1, 2016

    Keep Ted around, we’re probably gonna have high pick this year, Ted FK that up &will waste it on lineman from Austin Peay??? He’s always looking for the next Justin Harrell.

  4. PF4L December 1, 2016

    My apologies to Rob, we didn’t mean to ignore your article.

    Rob….Although i disagree with much of your article, you have a very, very positive attitude. That’s a useful trait to carry through life.

    But it’s amazing to me, how one win against a bad team can raise the level of optimism among some people. we may even beat the Texans, who knows, then everyone can feel warm and fuzzy for another week. That will continue until…..

    The hammer drops on the Packers yet again. When that happens and it well, as sure as the snow will fall this winter, fans will retreat right back to blasting this team like they did before the Eagles game.

    The Texans at 6-5 are in 1st place in the NFC South. Are they a good team? Hell noooooooo. They have a decent defense, but that’s it
    The Texans have no offense, they can’t score. Even with a winning record the Texans have a point differential of -42. The Texans are also a terrible road team. Brock Osweiler has thrown more interceptions than tds, a pathetic 5.8 ypa and has a 72 QB rating. Yes, the Packers could and SHOULD beat the Texans at Lambeau.

    If that happens, i have no doubt some Packer fans will be puffing out their chest with pride, and again rejuvenated, talkin bout them playoffs….lol. But the reality is, they played an offense with one of the worst QB’s in the NFL who can’t score. If they can’t beat Osweiler at Lambeau. God help them.

    In summary, this Eagles win and a potential win against Osweiler changes nothing.

    If you value evaluating the metrics of all this, and i know you do. The metrics tell you the Packers are going no where fast. Even with wins against a couple of bad teams.

  5. Zwoeger December 1, 2016

    Being ironic Rob?

  6. Kjo December 1, 2016

    Just get rid of Ted…seriously ,he waits until all is close to lost before he pulls the trigger and I am sick of him drafting guys with “a great upside”.