In 2020, Covid impacted the world and the NFL was included. Descriptions of 2020 will bring out a record number of adjectives. Yet, the 2020 NFL season has, at this point, led the Packers to an identical record as last year’s team. But this year feels different. The difference is more than a feeling. It can be seen on Sunday. And in 2020, Monday night, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or any day that the Ravens or Steelers could field close to 53 players. But Covid protocols have also impacted fans. How have the Packers and fans overcome 2020?
In past years, an injury to a starter on the offensive line was the end of any continuity on offense. The running game would become extinct and Rodgers would need max protections and planned roll outs to have a chance to make a play. The Packers this year have depth on the offensive line that has allowed them to continue to dominate in the run and pass game despite repeated injuries to multiple players who have missed significant playing time. Sunday’s game against the Titans was another display of incredible flexibility by Billy Turner who flipped from guard to tackle when Warner went down. Lucas Patrick came in at guard and the two helped A.J. Dillon keep rolling for a breakthrough performance.
The Packers third string RB just ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns against a defense that went to the AFC championship last year. He caught every pass thrown to him. His pass blocking did just enough to keep Rodgers upright.
The Packers now have three RB’s that can win their matchups. With snow games coming up this three headed monster looks formidable.
The weakest position from last years team looks like it can make just enough impact plays to win in the postseason. Last year’s plan of Martinez and Raven Greene faltered with Greene’s injury. Martinez was too slow to play coverage and rarely shot gaps or had tackles at the line of scrimmage. A decent player in the wrong scheme. This year’s injuries have been overcome by the steady improvement of rookies Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin. Adrian Amos has also filled in admirably on dime packages.
Robert Tonyan. No matter how you pronounce his name, he catches the ball. His blocking is also improved. Last Sunday the Packers were without Sternberger and Dominique Dafney came in and did his job. Solid blocking and a catch for a first down. Tonyan has outplayed Jimmy Graham’s two years in 15 games this year. And Marcedes Lewis just keeps on doing his job.
His positive energy has complimented his accuracy. He has bought into LeFleur’s system and knows how to make the offense succeed. The missed throws that haunted the offense last year have all but disappeared in 2020. The MVP award is a definite possibility for Aaron.
Fans have also looked different this year. The hardest part for many fans on Sunday was that they were watching the Packers dismantle the Titans from their living rooms. Seeing the long view TV shots of row after empty row of Lambeau Field, left us longing for the cold chill of Lambeau’s night air.
For many fans around Green Bay, listening to Chris Collinsworth repeatedly sputter compliments about Davante Adams’ shoes, complete with closeups tight enough to see the Jordan logo, is a sickening second choice to a healthy echo of, “Go Pack Go” bouncing off the stadium walls. Unfortunately, the ticket office at Lambeau is closed in this covid crazy 2020 season, and for the first time in many years, local fans are feeling the pain of fans who live too far away to see most games in Lambeau Field.
Smart fans tried to overcome. Fans outside the regular radio broadcast invested a single game ticket cost in the purchase of NFL.com’s, “NFL Gamepass”. While the plan does not give you the live TV broadcast, it does give you the live radio broadcast. You can choose between the home or away broadcast depending on game location. It turns out Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren can help restore your Cheesehead soul in stark contrast to the Aikman, Collinsworth, Joe Buck combo of Packer trollers. Packer fans simply synchronize the radio to their TV with a simple pause as the radio is on a very minuscule delay. The Packer radio broadcast team brings us as close to having a Packer fan sitting next to us as many of us can get this year.
No doubt, this year has been different. Both on the field and off. For players and fans. In 2020, the team has been able to overcome every obstacle that in years past have contributed to their undoing. Here is hoping that the Packers and their fans will all remember 2021 as a winner.