Legendary senior writer, Packers lead blogger & NFC North columnist jclombardi's commentary about the postplayoff loss firestorm about what is wrong with the Packers.
Photo credit: Evan Siegle GBPG.
Since the embarrassing Packers playoffs loss to the Super Bowl bound 49ers, the question is, "What is wrong with this talented team that they no longer make it beyond their first divisional playoff game losing badly? The "stuff hit the fan" when Packers media writers said that the loss showed that the Packers are no longer elite. Then, a respected insider Packers writer proclaimed the problem is, "Packers Too Soft To Join NFL Elite." BM"s commentary about the Packers hit several points about softness and management toward goals:
They're a soft football team, and in a sport that forever favors the tough, soft is a very, very bad thing to be. The Packers' season ended just as it started, in a convincing defeat handed down by an opponent that is physically superior. Thompson and McCarthy sit [as] football heads of an organization that has been in position to win Super Bowls five times in the past six years and came away with one. How, you might ask, did they win the Super Bowl two years ago? By being physical, that's how. What [GM]Thompson and coach McCarthy do about it will determine if this team is to go down as "just another fart in the wind," as the 1990s one-and-done title team.
We agree these are fine points, but we go back to the bigger issues. BM implied the management problem in the 2012 draft review. While a good draft, it was not enough. Thompson failed to get a pass rushing stout 3-4 defensive end. As BM wisely observed:
Thompson was looking for a big man to reinforce a sagging run defense and interior pass rush. Finally, he traded up, but it was too late because the defensive end that he wanted, Connecticut's Reyes had gone No. 49 to San Diego. His selection, Jerel Worthy, had shown pass-rushing quickness....Scouts said he was too short to play in the 3-4 defense and didn't have a block-eater's mentality. The Packers took Worthy No. 51 over Devon Still, a point-of-attack force for Penn State. Worthy showed little in training camp, decided to drop a load of bad weight and kept getting pushed back against the run. In other words, he was soft, too. By the way, Reyes had an impressive first season.
We agree that the drafts are not fitting stout personnel for the 3-4 defense with the Packers hoping that their backups and short 4-3 personnel will do the job. Obviously, they are outdated about 2013 NFL realities after their demonstrated mauling by the taller, faster, and tougher 49ers.
So are the Packers too soft? We do not think so. To borrow a line from THE NATURAL, "It's not enough." The real problem is the lack of quality talented defensive players. True, bad luck devastated their defense, but it is no excuse GM Thompson. They lost two physical starters to injuries: promising rookie OLB Perry and veteran "tough guy" ILB Bishop. Again, their replacements were simply backup guys. PB had several good points:
McGinn's explanation of Green Bay's foibles smacks of click-trolling and an outdated sense of NFL realities. Giants didn't win last year or in 2007 by being a more 'physical' team. They won because they rushed the passer extremely well, got turnovers, and created big plays in the passing game. Green Bay used [this formulae] to win Super Bowl. They lost to San Francisco because they don't have the horses defensively. This defense simply isn't talented enough. Green Bay's Super Bowl defense: Matthews off the edge, Collins patrolling the middle of the field, and the best group of cover corners in football. What the Packers lack is a [defensive] identity. What Green Bay needs isn't necessarily to get stronger or bigger or more physical. What it needs is players who fit the system.
Fans, you have the practical realistic answers to the bigger management issues causing the 2013 deja vu playoff loss. Yes, they are soft at key positions, but it is due to management failure to get the right tough stout players to fit the 3-4 system. Does short DE Wilson bring pass rushing to the 3-4 defense? No. Does "just a guy" soft ILB Hawk or "serviceable backup" ILB Jones fit the 3-4 system? No. Does "not savy enough" OLB Walden fit the 3-4 system to contain the edge and to pass rush? No. Successful defensive game plans are about finding out the weaknesses of the opponent's defense. The 49ers knew exactly where to successfully attack the Packers weaknesses.
We agree with PB's summary about "what's wrong with the Packers" firestorm:
An influx of defensive talent and identity would go a long way to rounding out an already dangerous team. Could they afford to get more physical? Of course, but is that the reason the Packers lost to San Francisco? No way. And does it mean Green Bay isn't an elite team? Do you really think Green Bay couldn't have just as easily gone into Atlanta and beat the Falcons?Green Bay needs to play better when it matters and having the right players on the field - and healthy - will go a long way in doing that. Developing a defensive identity is the missing piece.
Thus, the answers are the failure to get enough defensive talent, the need for reemergence of their defensive identity, and the right management leadership. Finally, Head Coach McCarthy has responsibility for this mess too. As the coaching grades said:
Two major issues ruined what could have been a Super Bowl season: The inability of head coach McCarthy and offensive coordinator Clements to come up with an answer for the amount of two-deep safety looks that opposing defensive coordinators played against the Packers, and defensive coordinator Capers’ underestimating how much the 49ers would use the read-option in the divisional playoff game.
The Packers face a big offseason to make the "it's about time" management moves to acquire the right 3-4 personnel to upgrade the defense. Management has failed to do their jobs. Of course, the boring Packers press is already in the "offseason mode" to write nausating boring fluff carp to keep their miserable jobs, e.g. Packers' Thompson out to address needs. But it is a step in the right direction for management. We will stay on top of it for you, fans. Stay tune.