We don’t believe the Green Bay Packers have decided to tank for the rest of this season. They are still in the NFC North race, a division that suddenly looks totally mediocre.
The playoff picture is another story. The Packers will likely have to win the North to get a slot in the tournament. Obviously that’s not out of the question. The frickin’ Bears currently lead the division at 4-3.
Still, the Packers moved two key contributors at the trade deadline. One — safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix — was a starter who played every snap this season.
Just like Jon Gruden got the questions when it was clear he was driving the Raiders into the ground this year, so did Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst. And just like Gruden, Gutekunst insisted the Packers are not tanking.
“I don’t necessarily think there’s a message it sends to the locker room,” Gutekunst said. “I think the decisions that we make are always in the best interest of our team, not only in the short term, but the long term, as well. But I think our locker room knows where we’re headed and, like I said, I think we’re humming at the right time and I think there’s a lot of positive things going forward.”
Personally, I believe the guy. Both of the players Gutekunst traded were distractions in the locker room. Neither was going to be with the Packers next season. So to a degree, it was addition by subtraction.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, asked about the moves and the state of the locker room, chimed in with his best “trust the process” quote.
“We’ve got to trust what Brian is doing and he’s making moves that are in the best interest of the team,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “In this situation, we need guys to step up in those spots. Obviously Aaron and Jamaal [Williams] have been playing really well, so more opportunities for those guys, and the defense will take care of what they need to with the safety spot…
“I think we’ve got good leadership. I think nobody has been hanging their head. We’re obviously disappointed about the result on Sunday. I wouldn’t say anybody is discouraged, though. I think we’re a tight-knit group. … We hang out together, we enjoy each other’s company and you’ve got to stick together. You’ve got to stick together through losses, through decisions that are made that are out of our control and keep moving forward with the same vision.”
It seems like the Packers have cleaned up whatever locker room mess they might have had. That should keep them from imploding for the rest of the season.
They still need to win some games, however. And they are currently in the toughest part of their schedule. The Packers are at New England this week. Then they get Miami at home, followed by road games at Seattle and at Minnesota.
It could get uglier before it gets better.
On the bright side, if the Packers have two losing seasons in a row, maybe we can finally be rid of Fat Mike.