If you look up the term heart breaker in the dictionary, you'll see the definition, followed by "see Packers loss to the Cardinals in the wild card game Sunday."
After rebounding from a terrible 2008 season, 4-4 start to the 2009 season and loss to Tampa Bay, Green Bay finally got it's act together and went on a 7-1 run, making it to the playoffs. You could take that a step further to talk about how they overcame a tough start to the game and took it to overtime before the fumble recovery won it for Arizona. Crushing yes, but we'll get over it.
But what about the team?
I was among the chorus of people calling for Ted Thompson's and Mike McCarthy's head after the loss to the Buccaneers. But I'll give credit where credit is due. McCarthy turned the team around. There was also a great article on JSOnline over the weekend about the "come to you know who" the coach had with his coaching staff and team after the Tampa loss. May be you could say it should have never gotten to that point in the first place, but at any rate the "you know what" ripping worked. The team turned it around and ended strong. I also liked McCarthy's idea to play full out in the last game of the regular season and his gutsy call to onside kick during the wild-card game.
Ted Thompson to me is still a mystery. He's has made some great draft choices, like Clay Matthews. But, I still worry that he leans a little to far to the "we don't need free agents" side of building a team. I mean, how long do the Packers stay "one of the youngest teams in the NFL" before moving to the "spend a little money on a free agent to fill one piece that missing to getting over the top" category. (We're not going to have the same old Thompson-Favre discussion here because it's ancient history)
Bottom line for Thompson and McCarthy is because they made it to the playoffs after the mediocre start, both jobs are secure for now.
I think the offense will be fine. Rogers still makes the occasional "young quarterback" mistake, but I think he will only get better. And you cannot doubt his toughness after surviving all those sacks earlier this year. The receivers and Ryan Grant are also very good, though Donald Driver is not getting any younger. Then, there's the offensive line. It went from looking like swiss cheese to pretty solid as the year goes on. Perhaps, if we were giving grades here, it would be incomplete.
The defense is another matter. They got some bragging rights for improvements this year and were statistically near the top of many categories. But if you break it down farther, a lot of those numbers came against Detroit, Cleveland and Seattle. And they were gashed by good teams. Woodson and Harris are both long in the tooth and who knows how Aaron Kampman will recover from his injury. I also don't love how Dom Capers seems to go into the prevent defense, pulling back on the aggressiveness when the team gets ahead. The defense to me is the biggest concern going forward.
So, there you go. My take on the Packers future the day after this season came to an end. What do you think?
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