Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Bucky Five: A Most Symbolic Victory

1. Let's Get the Favre Talk Out of the Way First - Maybe it's because I need to find more things that will make me happy in this world, but as of now the highlight of my week each and every week is the three hours that I get to sit down and watch some Packers football. It's just how things work when you're a Packer fan, and I'm sure a lot of you are in the same boat. No matter what else I do the rest of the week, I am waiting for Sunday afternoon for the moment where I watch the green and gold.

That wasn't the case this week though. As much as I am in the tank for the Packers, I did not initially look forward to this game. You know me by now, so it's not surprising when I say that my lack of interest was because of my hatred for Brett Favre. I've put so much of my energy into hating this guy that mentally you could say I've become a bit worn out by it all. Since he left Green Bay, we've already had to face this guy three times, and I wasn't really in the mood to go through another round. The chronic shots of Favre and discussion surrounding him during the game has grown a bit tired, and I did not want to watch a script I've seen played out three times before. Sure, we finally beat the bastard just one short month ago, but that was enough for me. I didn't want to go through it again.

Turns out though, I ended up enjoying this game quite a bit more than I thought I ever would.

In terms of symbolism, this game had it all. Yes, the franchise did already get the Favre monkey off their back when they beat him... er, I mean, the Vikings... at Lambeau earlier this season, but then to go up to Minnesota and not just beat the Vikings but to destroy them, well, it feels good. Especially when it effectively ends any hope they had of salvaging a season, and it may end up ending Brett Favre's career.

In the post-game, Favre was asked if there was any reason for him to continue playing this year since the playoffs were all but out of reach, and instead of quickly shooting down any thought of that, Favre hesitated and instead spoke out "re-evaluating" things. Of course, Favre loves to waffle because then we'll talk about him some more, but he sounded like a guy that wanted to just go back to Mississippi and pretend like this whole thing never happened. Ultimately, I don't think he will do that. Favre's not a guy that's going to quit, and he's certainly not going to leave and keep all that money on the table. If he were to get benched, that's another story, because I don't see Favre sticking around to be a backup. He didn't want to do it in Green Bay after he retired, and he's certainly not going to do it in Minnesota.

I really don't know why he did decide to come back this season, because all summer long the signs pointed to no. But the Vikings were so close last season to a Super Bowl, and I think because of that Favre underestimated how hard a return run like they had last season would be. As a Packers fan, thank God he did end up coming back. Let's say he is retired this season. If so, we never get those two victories over him this year, which not only takes said monkey off the back of the franchise, but finally allows us to move on from the whole debacle. This year has to prove to everyone that Ted Thompson is no fool, and that he knew what he was doing the entire time.

Who knows what would have happened if Favre is still a Packer right now, but two things are for certain in my opinion. One, the season that Minnesota is having now would be the exact same season that we'd be having if Favre was our starter. Two, it would have been "so long" to Aaron Rodgers a long time ago, because there's no way he would have stuck around and continued to play second fiddle. Even if he did, how messy would it be right now if Favre was the old time veteran that wasn't ready to call it quits, and Rodgers was still waiting in the wings ready to go. This scenario that is happening in Minnesota is the exact scenario that Thompson saw playing out except that Minnesota has worse backup quarterbacks, so kudos to him for not only making the decision to allow Favre to walk away, but also for staying strong in his beliefs that it was the right decision.

They can say all the right things to the media but trust me, Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson, Mark Murphy, Aaron Rodgers, all of them, they are all sleeping very well tonight.

2. Greg Jennings Putting the Team on His Back, Dog - So we know that the Packers killed the Vikings by a score of 31-3. But how exactly did they do it? Well, let's go inside the mind of a-Greg Jennings. Rodgers has said that he was going to make more of an effort to get Jennings the ball, and that paid off on Sunday as Jennings had seven catches for 152 yards, three of them counting for scores. Huge performance from Jennings, another product of Ted Thompson being an insanely awesome General Manager. James Jones caught a touchdown pass as well to give Rodgers four for the day, and to say that A-Rodg outplayed Favre would be an enormous understatement. Great job in the passing game on Sunday.

And hey, here's a Did You Know fact for you as well about our performance on Sunday. Did You Know that Dmitri Nance was the Packers leading rusher with 37 yards? How the hell did that happen?

3. We'd Have No Problem Playing at Wrigley - The game that took place between Northwestern and Illinois at Wrigley Field on Saturday drew a few laughs because of how often the teams had to switch sides, as one end zone wasn't deemed safe enough because of size restrictions. If the Packers were playing at Wrigley Field, that wouldn't even be an issue. The Packers don't need to switch sides to let the other team score "safely" because the Packers apparently don't give up touchdowns anymore. In fact, they've given up just one touchdown in their last thirteen quarters, dating back to the fourth quarter in their first matchup with the Vikings this season.

Despite the blowout, the first quarter was pretty much going in favor of the Vikings, but the Packers defense buckled down and kept Minnesota at bay until our offense was ready to show up. The play that really started to turn the tides was the Tramon Williams interception, because after that it was all Packers. What a year Tramon has had so far this season, and if Ted is as great of a GM as I think he is, he will make sure he locks this guy up for the long term. Add  a Clay Matthews sack in Sunday's stat sheet for good measure, and there's not too much you can do to complain about our defense at this point. Speaking of locking people up, it would be a good idea to make sure Dom Capers sticks around for as long as possible as well.

4. Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy? - Mike McCarthy did something on Sunday that he has never done in his five years as the Packers head coach, and that was the act of deferring a coin toss to the second half. This meant that he knew he'd be giving the Vikings the ball to start the game, but he did so because he was confident enough in how well the aforementioned defense has been playing. The move paid off and is another sign of how much McCarthy has matured over the years as the Packers coach. With the way he is calling the games and the way that he has managed this team and still held them accountable during all their injuries, I think it's only fair to say that he's in the conversation for Coach of the Year. Speaking of Mike, I seriously hope that there is no one out there still calling him, Thompson, and Murphy the "Three Stooges". I also seriously hope that if/when the Packer fans that jumped ship and followed Favre are looking to come back, that they know they are not welcome here (at least not by me).

5. The Road Ahead - With the win, the Packers now sit at 7-3 and if the season ended today they'd have the six seed and a trip to Chicago for the first round of the playoffs. Unreal right? Of course, the Packers and Bears still will meet again this season, but it's imperative that the Pack keep winning especially if the Bears do. As of now, we almost have to play like we are going after a wild card spot, because as of now that's how it shakes out. And that makes this weeks' game a big one as the Packers will travel to Atlanta to face the 8-2 Falcons. Everyone loves to talk about how great Atlanta is at home, and deservedly so, but getting a win at the Georgia Dome would really open up eyes up about how good this Packers team is. Remember, all three of their losses have been by just three points a piece. Lately, this Packers team has been so dominating that they got Wade Phillips fired and now Brad Childress could be next. With New England, the Giants, and Chicago all still left on the schedule, the Packers need to get wins where they can get them and a victory in Atlanta would be a huge start.

And before I forget, kudos to everyone that noticed Taco from "The League" chilling with Zygi Wilf in the Vikings' owners box!


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