21.12.17

SEASON'S END.

The Green Bay Packers will not be going into Christmas with a playoff on the line.
Not with that defense. Not with that lack of commitment to the run. Not with so few impact players.

The Packers were 28 yards away from playing a third straight overtime game and possibly pulling out a season-saving victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

But it was just a tease because since winning Super Bowl XLV they have been neither good enough nor talented enough to do more than put up a good front week after week.

If Aaron Rodgers had led the offense to a second touchdown in less than 3 minutes and the Packers had won the coin flip in overtime and scored a touchdown to pull out a miracle victory to improve to 8-6, it would have been merely a reprieve.
Perhaps the fans and the sports pundits will express enough discontent for headquarters to address weaknesses on the team that don't involve injured quarterbacks.
It would have lasted until the Minnesota Vikings or Detroit Lions or some playoff opponent brought them back to reality with a slap in the face. They would have packed up their bags, noted how close they got again and then gotten ready to do it again.

General manager Ted Thompson’s anachronistic approach to talent acquisition has left them exposed at one specific position or area of athleticism or facet of the game at the end of every season since the Packers won their 13th championship in February 2011.

Every year it seems, they overcome a slew of injuries, rally to win the division or make the playoffs and then have their weaknesses picked at until it’s time to congratulate the opposition for moving on.
Apart from the aforementioned Super Bowl season, and the repeated failure of special teams in Seattle, those weaknesses tend to have been on defense.  Heck, it was the Packers who made Colin Kaepernick a phenomenon for a couple of years.  Just line up and tackle people.

Thus endeth an eight year run of Packers playing in the post-season.  There was one prior such run, although nobody makes much of it. Lose to Philadelphia.  Defeat New York.  Defeat New York.  Defeat Cleveland(p).  Lose to St. Louis(p).  Defeat Baltimore(d) and Cleveland.  Defeat Dallas and Kansas City(*).  Defeat Los Angeles, Dallas, and Oakland(*).

The footsteps of giants.  "There is something Lambeau and Lombardi accomplished that subsequent head coaches have not yet done."

My wish for 2018: that the Packers fix their problems on defense, and continue to pay attention to the succession at quarterback (Boy, did I miss that one, but I'm not complaining).  I still have bad memories of a battered Bart Starr coming out to attempt to salvage one more season, one more run at Bud Grant and the Vikings, only to leave more racked-up.

(p) Playoff Bowl.  Vince Lombardi referred to this game as hinky-dinky, and it vanished with the divisional alignment.

(d) Western Conference playoff game.  No tie-break formulas in those days.

(*) The anti-climactic interleague bragging rights game that only later became the Super Bowl.  I think the name for that game originated with the name of the biggest entree at Chili John's.

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