Sunday, December 7, 2008

This Season Is the Same as Last Season, Except We're Losing

With their 24-21 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday, the Packers are now all but formally eliminated from playoff contention. I wouldn't go as far as Pro Football Talk to say that we stink because we lost to an "expansion" team (seriously, I'm having major PFT backlash this week), the Packers are not a good enough team to play past their scheduled 16 games.

It's the Packers fifth loss this season by four points or less, each one more painful than the last. Maybe it's karma for winning all those games we won last year that could have gone either way (Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs, Redskins, Eagles). When you really look at it, the 2008 Packers are basically the same team they were in 2007, except for one major exception.

And unlike what ESPN would like you to think, it's not Brett Favre.

If Aaron Rodgers isn't an upgrade over Brett Favre, he's certainly not a determent. You really can't ask Rodgers to do anything more than what he has been doing in these games. Sure, there have been a few bumps along the way, but riding with Brett Favre was one big roller-coaster anyways.

I think that those that sided with Brett Favre instead of the Packers this summer are realizing that too. There are many people out there that are rooting for Favre, but also appreciative of the work that Rodgers is doing, and that's great. I would say the only people that are still anti-Rodgers are those that have jumped ship for the season to follow the Jets 100 percent.

The problem this year is that we can't close out games, and that falls on two entities. Mike McCarthy, and the defense. McCarthy is calling some of these games so conservative, and I can't think of a logical reason why. It's almost as if he's trying to reel Rodgers in the way he reeled Favre in last season, as if he doesn't trust him. The play calling this season has definitely been tight, to say the least.

As for the defense, they are an absolute mess. Losing Nick Barnett was a way bigger deal than people thought it would be. I'm not sure where defensive coordinator Bob Sanders will be working, but it won't be in Green Bay. The defensive line has more holes in it than an episode of Prison Break. And there isn't a word in the English language to accurately describe how poorly the kicking coverage is.

The way these games are playing out though is nearly identical to last year, just occurring in a different order with different results. Every game so far in 2008 has a doppelganger for 2007, that is, a game which was played out in almost the same manner. Let's take a look:

2007: Packers 16, Eagles 13
2008: Texans 24, Packers 21

Packers beat Eagles on a field goal with two seconds left to play, Texans beat Packers on a game winning field goal.

2007: Packers 35, Giants 13
2008: Packers 34, Colts 14

Both games controlled by the Packers from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, and against quality opponents.

2007: Packers 31, Chargers 24
2008: Panthers 35, Packers 31

A late 4th quarter touchdown by the road team in a hard fought game severely deflated the enthusiasm of the home crowd.

2007: Packers 23, Vikings 16
2008: Falcons 27, Packers 24

A close game throughout, as either team could have won if they would have had another possession.

2007: Bears 27, Packers 20
2008: Packers 27, Seahawks 17

The winning team is able to hang on despite a valiant comeback effort.

2007: Packers 17, Redskins 14
2008: Vikings 28, Packers 27

It came down to the wire for both of these games that weren't the greatest display of football ever held.

2007: Packers 19, Broncos 13 (OT)
2008: Titans 19, Packers 16 (OT)

Get the ball first in overtime, and you'll probably win the game.

2007: Packers 33, Chiefs 22
2008: Packers 24, Vikings 19

Sloppy games for many reasons, with the Packers prevailing in both.

2007: Packers 31, Panthers 17
2008: Cowboys 27, Packers 16

In both contests, the team that won lead consistently for most of the game.

2007: Packers 37, Lions 26
2008: Packers 48, Lions 25

In both games, the Packers seem to have it wrapped up in the 4th quarter before the Lions make a comeback. The Packers respond quickly and put the game out of reach.

2007: Cowboys 37, Packers 27
2008: Buccaneers 30, Packers 21

The Packers are never really in either of these games, mostly due to the fact they lost their starting quarterback. In the Cowboys game, Favre was replaced by Rodgers. Matt Flynn took over for Rodgers in the Buccaneers game.

2007: Packers 38, Raiders 7
2008: Packers 37, Bears 3

An all around brilliant effort from the Packers at Lambeau.

2007: Bears 35, Packers 7
2008: Saints 51, Packers 29

Packers are embarrassed in every way possible.

Games yet to find their doppelganger:

2007: Packers 34, Vikings 0 - Shutout performance, or at least another dominating effort.
2007: Packers 33, Rams 14 - Packers cruise on the road (I'm thinking the Jacksonville game).
2007: Packers 34, Lions 13 - Packers roll over the Lions in a meaningless game.

Are the Packers that much worse of a team than they were last year? I don't really think so. Because the regression of McCarthy as well as the defense, this is pretty much the same squad. The problem is that last year the Packers were able to catch the breaks to advance all the way to the NFC Championship.

This year, they're already 5-8, with their season essentially over.


Ben said...

Hopefully we don't end up getting shut out yet this year.. that'd be pretty embarrassing.

Good post though!

Anonymous said...

great post!!!!

Winks said...

My articles also get posted over at Bleacher Report, and there was a pretty good discussion following my post. I'm going to post those comments here, using the names used as well.

Anonymous said...

This was an excellent assessment. I believe that the Packers were nothing special last season and were exposed in the NFC Championship game. However, they're not terrible either and you article just goes to show how much one season in the NFL can change from another. Thanks for not glorifying Brett Favre. The man has been rather ordinary the past couple of weeks.

Anonymous said...

Rodgers stats look great. At one time in the first half, he was 7/11 for 102 with a TD. The defense came up with a turnover at the Texans 23 yard line. In fact, every TD came because of a Texans turnover. The fact is, the offense never produced on their own. They were 1 of 10 on 3rd downs. At the end of the game Rodgers has great stats 19/30 for 295 yds, 2 TD and 1 INT. Grant has 104 yards rushing. However, the offense is dysfunctional. It can it long plays, but then goes without a first down for a quarter of the game. The Offensive line gets penalties at the worst times.

Yeah, the Defense gave up a lot of yards, but it also produced 3 turn overs. The offense has all the weapons and will have to get consistent before the Packers can really be a force again.

Anonymous said...

If you believe Favre isn't the difference, not only do you not know anything about football, you really don't know anything about sports. The margin which seperates greatness from just being good is obvious and it is called winning. Do you really think pro football seasons consist of a series of resounding victories??? No, sorry folks, NFL games are almost always close and guess what, players who make the plays that win games make teh plays that win games. Again, you can throw out all the A-Rod stats you want, look at how many games he has come-from-behind victories in, look at how many victories he has. Guess what, Favre made teh big plays last year when teh Packers needed them, Rodgers has not made those plays. Fact is, there isn't anybody on the team who makes those plays anymore. Perhaps you deny the term "playmaker" has any validity. Perhaps in the days of stats and fantasy football you can argue winning isn't the only thing. Whatever!!!

Anonymous said...

Favre had a a defense and special teams last season; Rodgers has neither this season. The defense sealed just as many games last season as they've lost for the Packers this season.

Also—refrain from saying he doesn't know "anything about sports". That's your opinion, but it's also disrespectful. You can say you don't agree, but then please back it up with facts—not just your emotional opinions.

Anonymous said...

Zach is a little more politically correct than me. This comment is just plain stupid. No need to sugarcoat anything.

I would say the non-knowing sports fan resides above this comment.

Anonymous said...

Andy is 100% correct.

Brett Favre brings certain intangibles to the field that Aaron Rogers simply does not, nor is likely to ever, possess.

To put it into simpler and more easily digestible terms, ...Favre is a winner and Rogers is not.

The Jets are a mediocre football team (awful last year) that Favre's mere presence has improved. He brings an aura of winning that is contagious among other players.

Rogers, on the other hand, brings nothing but the uncertainty of an untested, leader by default that no one actually believes will lead the team to anything other than mediocrity.

Half the battle is psychological, and Brett Favre has his teammates believing that they can win. Plus, he just has a ton more physical and mental ability than the un-seasoned Rogers ...despite his age.

Anyone who thinks that Aaron Rogers can compete at nearly the level of Brett Favre is either in complete denial or they are not paying very close attention to what's happening on the football field.

Great insight Andy.

Winks said...

This is where I would like to interject to say that I disagree. While it's true the Jets are better because they have Favre, who gives them that extra believe they can win, he's wrong about Rodgers.

Rodgers has lead the comebacks at the crucial times. The problem is the defense can't hang onto the lead in the final two minutes.

How does that burden fall on Rodgers, much less the quarterback position?

Anonymous said...

Think about this if you will. The Packers are not yet ruled out of the playoffs.

If the Vikings lose their next 3 games and the Bears lose at least two, and the Packers beat the Jaguars, Bears, and Lions, the Packers win the tie breaker with an 8-8 record for all three teams.

Green Bay becomes the NFC North Champs. Of course I do not believe this will happen and I lost all faith in my team this season and any faith in management (especially the play calling by Mike McCarthy). All three of them need fired.

I know I wrote an article about not calling for Ted Thompson's head just yet, well I've changed my mind.

Anonymous said...

The game versus Minnesota where Rodgers had two safeties, one for intentional grounding and one sack. That was probably the most crucial game of the season, and we lost even with a punt return for a touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown. Doubt that would have happened with Favre.

Anonymous said...

First off saying Aaron Rodgers is on the same level as Favre is rediculous, he isn't even the best first year starting QB in the NFL. I have seen nothing from Rodgers that proves he is anything more than an average QB. As for McCarthy's play calling, the reason why it seems much worse than last season is because Favre would change alot of the plays. Rodgers is young and inexperienced and probably believes in what McCarthy is doing. Favre is a veteran and knows what works and what doesn't and isn't afaird to step on someones toes to get it done and that is why he is not in Green Bay anymore. Thompson and McCarthy didn't like the fact that Green Bay was Favre's world and they were just living in it.

Anonymous said...

This team has tailed off in almost every category. The main ones being the scoreboard and the standings.

I think the loss to the Giants was the setup blow and the Favre drama the KO punch. This team will be back, but they need time to retool and get over the Favre affair

Anonymous said...

I understand people who thought Favre was overrated because he didn't win the superbowl every year are a little shocked that they could have been soooo wrong. I mean let's face it, a lot of people thought the the Packers would be better without Favre. I didn't mean to be rude, but I think it is strange that a lot of people are trying to diminish what Favre acomplished last year so they can explain the team's failure this year. Favre is not just some avrage QB even now. His accuracy is unbeleivable. His ability to release the ball quickly and make snap decisions improves the offensive line and keeps the defense on its toes. Offenses which oppose him game plan to keep him off the field. I would like to sit down with anyone who thinks this is untrue and watch the highlights from last year. You know, I think something which is really hurting the Packers is A-rod's inability to take risks at the right time. He doesn't make the same kind of mistakes Favre does and that is because he doesn't know when to press. Favre going for it lost a lot games but it won the Packers many more. You can sit and cry in your soup cans all you want, the Packers stink and that is just the truth. If you want to continue to kid yourselves and think Favre isn't that great, well enjoy your unsubstantiated fantasy.

Anonymous said...

honestly, if people spell favre's name wrong, so be it, but please stop misspelling fucking rodgers. its not that hard to put a god damn d in there. christ.

Anonymous said...

These guys that come on here and call out Rodgers for not being the leader, and if favre was here everyones mentality would be different really need to be more objective.

Rodgers has done very well over the course of the season. Few rough spots, sure its his first full season as a starter. Its funny people never wanted to give Rodgers a chance early in the season writing him off as injury prone or whatever. These are the same people that still think this team would be a 13-3 team at the end of the year with Favre again.

Seriously, the Jets are a much better team the the Jets team they had last year, another year for an all-pro line to gel, high draft pick young linemen getting better in mangold and ferguson, and a defense that has played much better than last season in part because of the addition of Kris Jenkins.

Stop comparing last years Packers to this years packers with the only differencing factor being favre. Key defensive injuries especially to jenkins and barnett have been huge to the packers defense. Last season experts were saying the Packers O-line was one of the tops, this year they have been so awful, and its not just because Favre isn't back there.

This line of thinking and arguement doesn't work because look how good the Dolphins have been by getting Chad Pennington.

The Jets have a great line, good running game, a defense playing well, a big time playmaker in Leon Washington and a veteran QB in Favre who has been the glue to that team.

I just don't see how Favre makes us any better than maybe 6-7 at this point.

Anonymous said...

OH yeah, Winks this was a really good column. Nice work.

Anonymous said...

How bout that phantom Tony Moll holding penalty that lost the game for us...was it just me or did the refs really F us Sunday?

Andy and the rest of you D-bags who are Favre fans and not packer fans need to go out and buy Jet Favre jerseys and start checking out New York blog sites and stay off this one. I remember Favre's first couple seasons in the NFL and he was pretty terrible. Rodgers has looked damn good this year in his first year and there's no doubt he's the future francise qb for the packers. Favre hasn't had a good playoff game since 97 and when we were damn good in the mid 90's we also had the top defense. I was ready to dump favre after his underhand pass to the defender 3 yards past the line against minnesota at home in the playoffs. That wasn't enough so he laid an egg against Mike Vick in the playoffs at home. Wait he also sucked against the Giants last year and w/o Grant running for 200 we probably lose to Seattle at home. Someone please tell me the last time the Prick had a good playoff game.

He's held this team hostage every off-season since 02'. I'm happy Ted Thompson spit in his face and said goto New York you Prima Donna.

Anonymous said...

Winks I want to endorse your thinking. I like your common sense views, compared to the emotional drivel of the Favre lovers. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a lot of Favre homers... Indeed, buy a Jets jersey, and shut the heck up.

P.S. I also remember how Favre did not want to share any game/play/experience pointers with Rodgers while Aron was glued to the bench. Whan a selfish a-hole.

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