I love my team. But the over-under on the time it takes me to get over a Packer loss is usually about ten minutes. I refuse to let a loss ruin my day. This game feels a little different.
Part of it is that the loss was avoidable. A dumb penalty by defensive tackle Johnny Jolly after a key third down stop in the red zone directly allowed a Viking touchdown instead of a field goal. That’s four points right there — half the margin of defeat — on one penalty.
And while I’m generally not one to second-guess football professionals who know far more about the game and its players then I do, I’ll go ahead and question Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ game planning.
The best way to force poor throws out of a quarterback is to apply pressure. Doesn’t matter how tough someone is, he’ll get scared if 300-pound men are in his face on every play. That means you blitz hard, and blitz often. The standout Packer secondary allows Capers to blitz with little loss in coverage ability.
I also saw some offensive issues. The Vikings have an excellent defensive line. That means you give your quarterback extra protection against them. The Minnesota secondary is that team’s liability, especially with its best player, Antoine Winfield, out due to to injury.
That means that keeping an extra player in to block, who could otherwise be an open receiver, comes at a small price. The Packers did little to max-protect, and little to pick on a depleted secondary.
The lack of protection meant Aaron Rodgers was limping by the end of the game. That could hurt the team well beyond this game.
But these things happen all the time, even to good teams. Why does this one still sting?
Chalk it up to cognitive dissonance. I still can’t forget how much Brett Favre has done for the Packers. It still outweighs how much he’s done to the Packers in the two times he’s beaten them. His contributions to Green Bay go well beyond his hall-of-fame statistics and durability. Those would be quite enough on their own.
His presence made the rest of the team better. Having Brett Favre at quarterback was what allowed the Packers to convince marquee free agents like Reggie White to put on the green and gold.
The team was a mediocrity from the end of the Lombardi/Starr era until Favre ambled in. That’s more than two decades. An entire generation. Nobody wanted to play there. The weather is enough of a turn-off for most people. But if the team is perpetually bad, why bother signing with them? Players play to win, not to lose and be cold.
Then along came Brett. All of a sudden playoff appearances became a regularity. In Brett’s 16 years in Green Bay, the team only had one losing season. That’s unheard of. People like Reggie White and Charles Woodson came to to Green Bay of their own free will. The team was competitive every year. What a treat for Packer fans resigned to seeing loss after loss.
Brett Favre made Green Bay relevant again. How many players can do that for a team? That’s the real reason why Brett was so loved by his fans. Yes, he has a colorful personality and a compelling life story. If he wasn’t a winner, nobody would care.
That’s why it’s not the loss that bothers me so much. It’s been more than ten minutes by now. Heck, I’m a Brewer fan. I learned at an early age to let losses roll off my back like so much water off a duck’s back.
No, this one hurts because the person who brought my favorite team out of the NFL’s basement was working his hardest to throw it back down there. And without him, the Packers may well have never left it. How do you root against someone who did that for you? Cognitive dissonance at its finest.