Before the playoffs, I was speaking with a couple of Packers fans and said that I felt '03 confident in this team. I felt that we were the team of destiny. I felt that if we played our best ball and the opposition played their best ball, we'd be the team in the Super Bowl. Much like '03, the Packers fans and organization are saying "what if?"
Last Sunday night was a Football funeral. Lambeau Field was dressed for the occasion. The Red Carpet had been rolled up. It was beautiful. The G-Force was in full effect. The ghosts of Lambeau were in attendance as two kicks were blown wide left. But, ultimately, the '07 Packers team ran out of magic. And therefore, the team of destiny failed in its quest to reach the Super Bowl.
In '03, 4th & 26 failed the Packers. In '07, neither J-Bush nor Brady Poppinga were able to corral a loose football that would have positioned the Packers near midfield with 2 minutes to play. On both occasions, Favre was given the football in OT with a chance to win. Both times, Favre threw a devastating interceptions. Favre, the ultimate of "Spirit Snipers." Normally, he rips the hearts of the opposition, but last Sunday, it was the hearts of the G-Force that got ripped of Super Bowl hope.
I'm not going to elaborate on last Sunday's NFC Championship. I cannot stomach it. But, what I will say is that I felt there were three times during the game that the Packers had a chance to seize the moment during regulation. Each time, we failed. Ruvell Martin's drop was devastating. In fact, if I were the GM, he would never play for my team again. Brandon Jackson's lack of instinct on the screen showed me that we need an upgrade behind Ryan Grant. If Jackson waits for his block, he could have scored a TD...and he definitely would have had the first down. Finally, the Bush debacle. I would have cut J-Bush on Monday morning.
Strangely, as the Packers head into the offseason, we are in a similar position as we were in '03. We have nearly everyone coming back. We had the same in '03. After the '03 defeat, I felt strongly that the Packers would be back in the mix in '04. We were young. We were talented. And the core of the team was going to be leading us into the following season. However, the '03 offseason brought the Mike McKenzie fiasco. Additionally, the draft brought the likes of Ahmad Carroll, Joey Thomas, Donnell Washington, and BJ Sander. While we made the playoffs in '04, it is needless to say that things got worse before they got better.
This offseason is an absolutely vital component to the future of this organization. Our window of Super Bowl opportunity is small and hinges on how long Favre decides to continue playing. Clearly, the Packers must get better. We need improved play at the 3rd CB. We need another LB. We need a TE. We need an upgrade at P. I am not opposed to an upgrade at S. We need depth on the OL. We need a back-up RB. I would bring in another WR as well. We could also use an upgrade at KR/PR as Willie B. cannot be trusted. The guy cannot stay healthy.
I'm interested to see how Greg Jennings and Ryan Grant respond in the offseason. I'd be surprised if both do not ask for raises. I've read that Grant has already done so. And if we do not grant him his wish, how will he respond? He's under contract for 2 more years. Could he pull a Mike McKenzie?
The major difference between '03 and '07 is that I trust Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. While in Green Bay, prior to the game, I read a terrific quote from Ted Thompson:
"The difference between winning and losing in the NFL is so small. But the emotions that are attached to them - winning and losing - are so different. When you lose, it feels as though something inside of you has died. When you win, you've never felt more alive."
Post the loss, during Mike McCarthy's interview, Larry McCarren asked McCarthy if he'd look at this season as a successful one after the dust has settled...
And McCarthy responded, "I will look at this year as a season of exceptional progress, but we had our eyes on the target. And today, we missed a terrific opportunity to win the NFC Championship at Lambeau Field."
In light of these two statements, I feel that our franchise is in good hands. I trust McCarthy and Thompson. I'm happy that both are going to be locked up for 5 more years.
In closing, to my readers and participants, thanks for following along. I enjoyed myself. I hope that you enjoyed this as much as I did. I will continue to update the blog during the offseason especially when there are things that are "newsworthy." I am enamored with the NFL Draft. Yes, I'm a junkie with it. This blog will carry into the NFL Draft. So, please, check back in the near future. My coveted FA this year is Karlos Dansby. I'm hoping that the Cardinals do not franchise him. As for the draft, at this stage, I am targeting Fred Davis, TE, from USC as my desired 1st rounder. From what I read Talib Aqib has been jumping up draft boards. I'm still looking at Chevis Jackson as a 2nd or 3rd rounder. More to come on this subject...