The last time I felt this way was January of 2004. After the 4th & 26 loss to the Eagles. At that time, my take was in an email form. After reading my writing, I had a number of people opt out of the email chain for a variety of reasons. It was odd. It was real. It put an end to the blog for 3+ years until Josh King, Richard Evans, Neil Buethe and Russ Thompson encouraged me to reignite it prior to the 2007 NFL Season.
Packers fans are intense. When we win, it's a glorious feeling. When we meet defeat, it's painful. It devastates. It tears at the soul. With that said, life goes on. And, we carry on. Thus, I'm prepared to take whatever heat comes at my thoughts. I'm also aware that many people will stop reading after my delivery.
I caution: I'm a big Mike McCarthy fan. I feel that he's a SUPER coach.
In December of 1993, I traveled to Florida to participate in the Cocoa Beach Cup. With my good friend, Mike Brugman. Bruti & I were decked out in the Red, White & Blue as we represented the state of WI as a part of the Olympic Development Program. We played against the Canadian and Russian Under-19 National soccer teams. We were both 16 years old. We also played the Louisiana State team.
When we played Louisiana, I started at right FB. The player I was marking was far better than I. He was bigger, faster and stronger than I was. At halftime, we led 1-0 as Bruti assisted on the goal. Yet, the man I was defending was abusing me. He hit the post twice. He shot wide a couple of other times. I was no match for him. I tried everything. One time, I even jumped on his back to try and tackle him after he beat me. I failed to bring him to the ground. I was given a yellow card. I was replaced in the 60th minute. We still led 1-0. As I walked off the field, my Coach was shaking his head with disappointment. He grabbed my shirt and emphatically said emphatically something I'll never forget: WE HAVE TO GRAB THIS GAME BY THE SCARF OF THE NECK AND STRANGLE IT UNTIL IT'S ALL OVER!
Yes, it was me - the player - who had to finish off the game. Not him - the coach.
Fast forward to January 2015. Mike McCarthy had his team ready. They were aggressive. They were in attack mode. They were determined to win the fight. But, the players couldn't finish. In fact, for those of you that are questioning McCarthy's play calling in the 4th Quarter, I ask you: did you watch the 2014 Green Bay Packers? If not, let me educate you. When the Packers had a 4th Quarter lead, his calling was consistent. He leaned on his beefy OL and his stud RB to power forward on 1st & 2nd down. And, then on 3rd down, depending on the circumstance, he either gave it back to Lacy or he let the MVP win it with his arm. He did it vs NE, at MN, vs ATL (with Starks), and vs Dallas. Each time, he did the same thing. Each time, he was successful. This time? Well, the right side of his OL got blown up. If not, there are no conversations around McCarthy being conservative. Instead, we are discussing the genius game plan drawn up by McCarthy and Capers.
In fact, I had absolutely ZERO problems with the coaching decisions other than the 3 man rush on 3rd & 19. We needed to attack. Instead, we sat back and got burned. It was devastating.
Players have to play. Coaches have to coach.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers thought that Seattle jumped offsides on the opening drive and therefore, he forced a ball into coverage that was intercepted.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Mike Daniels drew a silly penalty after HaHa's first interception.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Kuhn got stopped a foot short instead go carrying forward for a TD.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that EDDIE couldn't win a 1v1 battle with Earl Thomas on the following play. I expected that to be a TD. For the record, I would've gone for a TD on the next play, but I didn't mind the points. Especially in light of what happened vs DET in Week 17.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers missed an open Jordy from the 5 yard line on the next play.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers missed Cobb high on 3rd and 13 in the 2nd Quarter with a 13-0 lead. Thankfully, there was an Avril penalty on the play to extend the drive. McCarthy was aggressive and had Rodgers hit Cobb in stride, he might've scored.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers threw an interception on 1st and 10 from the 33 yard line with a 16-0 lead. McCarthy had his hand firmly placed on the throats of the Seahawks. He was going for the dagger with aggressive intent. Rodgers and Cobb miscommunicated. We lost a crucial shot to take a 3-score lead.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that the offense stalled in the 2-minute drill to end the first half. McCarthy was firmly in aggressive mode and gave the drive to his MVP. We couldn't connect.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers didn't hit Cobb in stride on 3rd and 7 on the opening drive of the 2nd half. Had he done so, it looked as though Cobb would've had a big gain. Instead, it was 4th & 1 and the Packers were forced to punt.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Starks couldn't hang onto Rodgers' deep ball near the goal line early in the 4th Quarter.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that HaHa dropped a potential pick-6.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that AQ81! dropped a 1st down pass with just over 5 minutes left in the game. That play would've been a first down. It wouldn't have sealed the game, but it really felt like things were rolling.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that JP told Morgan Burnett "no mas"!
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that the right side of the OL were blown up on 1st down to make it 2nd and 14 and then 3rd and 16. On 3rd and 16, did you really want to pass? I didn't. Eating clock was precious and Rodgers hadn't been on point.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Masthay got off a poor 30 yard punt.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Brandon Bostick made the most individually collapsing play that I've seen by a Packer in my lifetime. The moment was too crucial to be disobedient. Instantly, the vibe changed from an epic celebration to a gigantic choke.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that HaHa didn't knock down the 2-point pass.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Casey Hayward got beat off the line of scrimmage and gave up 35 yards on 3rd & 7 in OT.
* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that T-Mon lost inside leverage without help over the top.
Players are going to play. Coaches are going to coach. The players choked. Other than a conservative 3rd and 19 defensive decision, I don't think the coaching staff is at fault in this one.
Here are some other quick vibes from the past week:
* Aaron Rodgers is the NFL's MVP. But, he wasn't in the NFC Championship.
* Clay Matthews was a monster. And, then he was emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. Really, Clay? With the Super Bowl on the line? That makes me sick to my stomach.
* Julius Peppers was going to be the next REGGIE or Sir Charles and then he said "no mas"!
* HaHa and Burnett really grew together as a Safety combo.
* Really nice showing from Barrington. Wished he'd have gone over the top of the pick instead of underneath it. Hell, if he went thru it, he'd likely have been able to draw a flag. He made the wrong choice there. But, he earned my confidence heading into next year.
* I hope Bulaga, Cobb and Guion are back next year. Same with Raji. If Bulaga and Cobb are back, the core of the offense will have two years together to try and redeem themselves.
* Brandon Bostick, Brad Jones and AJ Hawk will not be back with the Packers next year.
* I'm really curious to see if Adrian Hubbard and Joe Thomas make an impact next year. Same goes for Rajion Neal. It wouldn't shock me if Joe Thomas competes for a starting ILB role.
* The 2014 Packers team was going to be my 2nd favorite Packers team ever. So determined. So much camaraderie. Veteran leadership. Rookies rising. I love this team, man. What a buzzkill to see it finish the way it did.
* Tim Masthay's job should not be safe heading into training camp next year.
* The Packers OL will be better than ever next year if Bulaga comes back. We will also get Donny Barclay back. Further, I'll be excited to see what Tretter and Joe Madsen do with a full offseason.
* I was stoked to see that the Packers met with Danny Shelton, DL, Washington and Denzel Perryman, ILB, _ at the Senior Bowl.
* I'll have my first mock draft posted in the next 2 weeks.
This one will sting. Forever. Rodgers may never get that close to a Super Bowl again. And the Packers players didn't grab the game by the scarf of the neck and strangle it until it was all over. They didn't seal the deal.
Cherish the moment. You never know what life will bring.
Go Pack Go!