Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Bucky Five: The Playoffs Start Now

First of all, many thanks to the gang for keeping things afloat here while I was out in Boston watching the Packers lose another heartbreaker of a game. Turtle did a nice job already of summarizing the Packers 31-27 loss out in New England, but now that I'm finally sober I thought I'd chime in as well.

1. Not What We Expected - Don't get me wrong, the trip itself was amazing. Boston is a cool city, it was my first time out that way, and I'm a sucker for cities rich with history. For the most part, the people were friendly, but that all changed after the game was over. Honestly, Patriots fans are assholes. Before and during the game we got your typical away fan banter, but after the game, after they game they won, it was blitzkrieg on anyone wearing Packers apparel. It's almost like winning makes them more angry. I'll have much more to say on the topic in a Winks Thinks I'm planning this for week, but for now let me just tell you if I ever do go back to Boston again, it won't be for the hospitality.

As for the game, when we first learned that Flynn was starting, we like most other Packers fans were expecting the worst. But the more Patriots fans started to cock off to us, the most confident that I began to feel. Sure, up to this point the Packers season hasn't gone as expected, but when you slice it down we have a good football team. It's not like we were the Carolina Panthers coming in to Foxboro on a Sunday night, but the predictions were coming in that way. I do understand why though a little bit, as the Patriots seem to be the unquestioned best team in football right now. But maybe a little more credit should have been given to the Packers, because even though they were starting a backup QB for the first time since 1992, the guy that would be under center really wasn't that bad.

2. Meet the Flynnstones - I may have been one of the few that didn't think Matt Flynn played poorly last week, but the big problem so far in his young career is that when he makes a mistake, it's about as costly of a mistake as you can make (and can we please alert everyone that he's not a rookie? I mean, he's close enough, but still). Even though there was the interception that was returned for a touchdown and the lack of urgency on the final play of the game, you have to commend Flynn's effort for taking this team into hostile territory and performing the way he did. The former LSU quarterback finished with 251 yards and three touchdowns, including the second quarter strike to James Jones which was one of the prettiest passes I've seen from any quarterback all season throughout the NFL. There's a chance he may have to play again next week, and even though we need Rodgers back if we're going to make a play for this thing, it's nice to know that Matt Flynn actually has the goods when needed. And to think, we drafted him just case in Brian Brohm didn't pan out.

3. McCarthyism - I became pretty furious after the game that the loss should be solely attributed to Mike McCarthy, but I do not want to be one of those people on the "Fire Mike McCarthy" bandwagon. My only real gripe against McCarthy is that sometimes I think he outcoaches himself, and that at times he's a bit timid. My biggest reason for this is in the area of challenging plays. If I can remember correctly, McCarthy, in his tenure, has always been one of the more successful coaches against the challenge. But lately he doesn't seem to want to throw the red flag. This makes two straight games where there was a play in question that I would have liked to see challenged (possible Jennings TD last week, disputed catch by the Patriots on a drive that lead to a touchdown). Besides that though, for now I'm staying with Mike and will remain on his side. The caveat to that thought is that he has to make the playoffs. Yes, he's dealt with a lot of injuries this year and has done a good job of doing so, but with the position we are in now, we absolutely need to get in.

4. Precious Mistakes - As much as some people want to blame McCarthy, as a whole this team is just making too many mistakes. The aforementioned Turtle did a nice of job of explaining them in his Pack Fan / Bears Fan series, and I won't dwell on them here mainly because I don't want to speak of that Dan Connolly kickoff return ever again. But when I rewatched the game thanks to DVR technology after I got home, it was the dropped interceptions by Woodson and Shields that I felt hurt the most. Given that those plays were still early in the game, I think either one of those interceptions might have changed everything. Sure, the announcers say that we have nothing to hang our heads about, but this was another game that we lost even though we could have won. All six losses have been that way, and that's not very comforting.

Still, with the way that people are giving the Packers credit for how they played in this game, for me it's drawing eerie similarities to that regular season finale between the Patriots and the Giants a few years back. When the Giants nearly beat the Patriots to prevent them from going 16-0, I remember Eli Manning being interviewed after the game with the biggest grin on his face. Here, his team had lost, but the Giants were celebrating as if they won the Super Bowl, and lo and behold that loss allowed them to win it just one short month later. Maybe the Packers can build off this game in a similar fashion, and get their revenge seven weeks from now.

5. Time to Win Six Straight - You wanted the Packers to make the playoffs? Well, we're in. However, for us the playoffs start now. The Packers really can't afford to lose either of these next two games against the Giants and the Bears, and it's nice that we get them both at home. Because if we do get into the postseason, every game will be on the road. The Wild Card round would likely be in Chicago, and the rounds after that in possibly Philly, Atlanta, or New Orleans. It's not going to be easy, but at least we hold our own fate to getting into the real postseason (thank you Tampa Bay and New York for letting that happen). At this point, getting to the playoffs would be enough for me, especially in this season littered with injuries. Once you're in the playoffs though, you never know what could happen. The problem is that we have to get there first.


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