Sunday’s 30-22 opening game loss to the San Francisco 49ers on a warm afternoon at Lambeau Field was quite an eye-opener for optimistic Packer fans that have been bombarded with pre-season prognostications that tout Green Bay as a Super Bowl favorite for the 2012-13 season.
The 49ers clearly looked the part of potential champion as they performed well in all aspects of the game while the Packers looked little different from the troubled squad that mysteriously showed up on Green Bay’s home turf in the NFC Divisional Playoff game that ended their season with a loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
If opposing teams were slow to catch on to the Packers dynamic 2011 offense before late season adjustments laid out a blueprint to stop Aaron Rodgers and Company, the full offseason of defensive preparation has rendered the Green Bay aerial attack nearly obsolete in design.
San Francisco played with a fiery determination that belied the first game of the season. Perhaps the ‘Frisco coaching staff astutely underscored the potential playoff ramifications of a win over the Packers as Green Bay will have to finish the regular season with a better record than the 49′ers to avoid the tie-breaking advantage San Fran will enjoy throughout this 2012 season.
Tight press coverage against the Packer receivers and a much deeper understanding of Mike McCarthy’s offensive design that comes with the territory of success has clearly stunted the previous years passing prowess to the point where dump off tosses appears to be the only successful counterpunch at the moment.
It’s also apparent that the Packers lack that intangible mental edge that portends championship-caliber play. After finishing last season with a 15-1 record before their opening playoff game defeat, the 2012 team has to fight the subconscious feeling that regular season dominance is not needed.
Many decades of observing patterns in all sports has implanted a troublesome historical impression that seemingly plagues all squads that dominate in the regular season only to come up short in the playoffs. The subsequent year almost always sees a drop in regular season production that places potential playoff chances in a precarious position.
A “not too hot” and “not too cold” plan of action is difficult to measure as the season progresses. Remember the Super Bowl bound 2010 Packer squad had to run the table down the stretch just to get in and you can easily visualize a scenario where the 2012 Green Bay team wakes up just a little too late to even make the playoffs.
It’s often cited that an NFL defensive back has to have a short memory to succeed as even the best cover corner is often beat in coverage. This season’s version of the Green and Gold will have to finally let go of the disappointment of the past postseason if they are to move ahead and play with the passion and excitement necessary to prevail in the highly competitive, parity driven National Football League.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy will have to adjust as well. NFL coaches have a well deserved reputation as a stubborn bunch. McCarthy’s pride will have to admit that opposing defensive coordinators have caught on to the Packer offense and adjustments are in order.
With an upcoming Thursday night game against the one team that seemingly always gives Aaron Rodgers a bit more trouble than the rest, the Packers team that shows up at Lambeau against the Chicago Bears must display an urgency that reflects the possibility of losing control of the season in a mere five-day span.
At least Green Bay has Jay Cutler landing in Titletown this week! Let’s hope he is in his usual giving mode that may allow McCarthy a bit more time to plan a counter attack against the effective adjustments that appear to be slowing down a once premier offense that now seems a bit stale.