Monday, February 07, 2011

A Fan's Notes XLV

Quite a game, as my beloved Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl XLV, 31-25 over a very good Pittsburgh Steelers team. A few thoughts:

  • Much will be made of Aaron Rodgers and how he has escaped the shadow of Brett Favre. To be honest, I thought he'd done that a long time ago. He's a different sort of quarterback than Favre and, for the way the Packers are built, probably a better one. What made Favre so fun to watch was the way he could turn a terrible situation into something magical, but throughout his long career he'd do things that would leave you shaking your head. To me, Rodgers is more of a Tom Brady type of quarterback, a guy who knows what needs to happen and then executes it. It's also a better long-term formula for success.

  • When we look back at this year, what I think is most notable is how tough-minded the Packers were. They lost their most important defensive player, Charles Woodson, in the middle of the game yesterday, but they didn't blink. We never saw much of Pat Lee or Jarrett Bush in the regular defenses this season, but when they needed to be there, when it mattered most, they were able to play well enough to make things happen. Mike Tomlin, the excellent coach of the Steelers, referred repeatedly this past week to "the standard," which is the notion the Steelers have that no matter who is in the game, they will play up to the high standards of the Steelers organization. Yesterday, when the Packers absolutely had to have it, guys like Bush and Lee played at even a higher standard.

  • I saw it pointed out by someone, probably on Facebook, that if the Packers hadn't been the beneficiaries of a questionable call or two in their first game against the Vikings, that they never would have been in the playoffs. I don't suspect that's true, because it assumes that the rest of the season would have played out exactly the same way it did. That's not how things work. But it does point out how little margin for error there is in football. I believe that if the Packers were to play the Steelers 10 times, they would probably split the series right down the middle. The Packers could have, maybe should have, swept the Bears this season, but the Bears could very easily have swept the Packers. Branch Rickey said that luck is the residue of design. The reason that the Packers were able to win is that they had a superior design this year. Next year, there's a pretty good chance that someone else will find a way to crack the code. There's reason to believe that the Packers may be even better than they were this year -- imagine what Jermichael Finley might do when he returns. But that might not be enough to get the Packers back to the Super Bowl. There's a reason why the NFC has sent 10 different teams to the Super Bowl in the last 10 years. It's damned difficult to get there.

  • I'm not old enough to remember the Lombardi years, but in comparing this team and the great 1996 Packers squad, I think you'd have to give the edge to the 1996 team, which was absolutely loaded. But when it comes to the enjoyment of the journey, this season beats that one by rather a lot. There were several times when I thought the Packers were dead this year, especially after the debacle in Detroit, but somehow the Packers managed to fix the problems and get on a roll for the ages. I think a lot of us expected 1996 to happen, but this year was a bit of a surprise. But again, luck is the residue of design and good fortune comes to those who put themselves in a position to experience it. And when you combine the Super Bowl victory and the great run the Badgers put on this season, 2010-2011 goes down as the best year of football I've ever experienced. It may be the best one I'll ever experience, too. That's why you have to appreciate it for what it is.


First Ringer said...

While as a Vikes fan the outcome made me throw up a little, I have to offer my kudos to the Packers organization. Not many GM's would have made the series of decision Ted Thompson did that led to yesterday.

Would many GMs draft a high-value QB while having a Hall of Fame still taking snaps? Would many GMs cut loose that future Hall of Famer after an exceptionally young team went 13-3 and was one play away from the Super Bowl? Would many GMs keep their job when what followed was a 6-10 season and an uneven 2009 campaign?

I can only note the difference across the border here in Minny as the Vikes mortgaged everything on trying to undo that one play. They didn't hedge their bets; they made no long-term decisions - they put all their chips on one season and it backfired horribly. Now they look unlikely to stay out of 4th in an NFC North that has three young, good QBs.

So congrats. Enjoy the next decade of football.

CousinDan 54915 said...

I feel for First Ringer. Well, no not really. Go Pack Go.

Mr. D said...

Thanks, FR. Your analysis makes a lot of sense to me in re the Vikings. They can turn it around, but it's going to take a while now.

Bet it's a lot of fun in the Valley right now, Dan!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Vikings and turning it around, I'm sure that LA will attractive to free agent candidiates once the new stadium is built there.. In other words, get your act together and get the new stadium built for the Vikings, or you will be Packer Fans (or Bear Fans, Chief Fans or whatever) by default.

Gino said...

the vikings arent going anywhere. i think buffalo may move, though.

yes, its a close game, including a few questionable calls, and obvious non calls, that would have likely changed the outcome of week 17.

i wonder... GB played with only 1/2 a team this year. I'm starting to think that maybe starter's skills are no replacement for heart and coaching, and the packers had both.

Gerry said...

I am still trying to figure out of yesterday's game really happened. If you can believe the newspaper, it actually did. Kudos to the Pack and the Steelers for playing a great game, and I was not the only Packer fan dreading that last drive.

The Packers have some interesting decisions in front of them with what to do with their 15 injured who will return next fall. I am no football genius, but I'm wondering if Mr. Nick Barnett has worn out his welcome?

Mr. D said...


Could happen, but I suspect there are other franchises that could move to LA first. Gino suggests Buffalo, but I'd guess Jacksonville, which just doesn't have the fan base and corporate muscle to support the team long term.

Gerry, I'm still having a hard time believing it, too. But as was said in another context, it's real and it's spectacular.