- When the Pack was at 4-4 earlier this year, we were quite critical of the coaching staff, GM, team as a whole. And, they deserved it. I don’t feel badly that we weren’t convinced this group should stick around. And at that time, based on their previous season records, I didn’t think talk of firing the whole lot of them was outrageous.
- Now, I feel a bit differently. Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers and even Shawn Slocum deserve a lot of credit for turning this season around. Capers took an inconsistent defense that was clearly struggling to learn his system and brought about a profound change – a change that likely will leave the Pack the #1 overall defense in the NFL in several important categories. This is no small accomplishment. McCarthy continues to get his offense to score points. Now, I still am not always in line with his overall decision-making and specifically, his offensive playcalling (though today, it was good). But McCarthy manages to get the team to put points on the board. The stat I highlighted the other day (Pack first team in history to have consecutive years with a 4000 yd passer, two 1000 yd WRs and one 1200 yd RB) speaks to nice offensive balance. The truth was, however, that the offense became more balanced over the course of the second half of the season. Either way, it has balanced out some with Ryan Grant contributing more and more. One thing I find consistently intelligent on McCarthy’s part, is the apparent priority he puts on distributing passes to so many guys. Stop and think for a moment about the fact that McCarthy has drawn up plays for 3 FBs, 3 RBs, 3 TEs, and 5 WRs to catch passes – and every one of these guys have caught a few passes. For an opposing defense,this makes it extra tough to key on particular guys.
- A few players improved significantly in the 2nd half of the season: Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, the solidified O-Line, Nick Barnett, Clay Matthews, Johnny Jolly/Pickett/Raji/Jenkins, Hawk (yes, Hawk, he improved considerably in he 2nd half), Brad Jones, and Collins/Bigby.
- Aaron Rodgers deserves a lot of credit for making this season a good one. That’s an understatement. Aaron Rodgers, from a statistical perspective, was arguably as good as any Green Bay QB…ever. He finished with these amazing stats: 11 wins, 30 TDs, 7 Ints, 4434 yards and a 103.2 QB rating. He also led the NFL (with Romo) in pass plays of 40+ yards and though I haven’t been able to confirm this, I believe he led all QBs in rushing. Phenomenal season. We should be excited about this guy and the future we have with him at the helm.
- As incredible a season as Aaron Rodgers had, I’m not so sure he was even the Pack’s MVP. Charles Woodson was nothing short of spectactular this year. Aaron Rodgers put it well the other day saying he’s never seen anyone play better in person. Charles Woodson does more from the CB position than any cornerback in the NFL. Darelle Revis and Asomugha are ridiculously talented cover guys – no question. But they are simply not as well-rounded as Charles Woodson. Woodson can blanket cover the best WRs on other teams (or even TEs.) Woodson can stop even the best RBs in their tracks with sure, intelligent tackling. Woodson can break up passes and make great interceptions. Woodson can score TDs on 33% of the passes he picks off. Woodson can be a team leader. Woodson can also help Capers with the overall game plan. We are lucky to have him.
- I think the additions of Mark Tauscher and Ahman Green were both very smart. These were two veterans who knew Packer culture and who added a welcome (and very much needed) veteran presence to the team. Tauscher helped to stabilize a questionable right side of the O-Line. And Green added a nice extra back to annoy opposing defenses. Just when they stop a few passes and are feeling good, and they’ve gobbled up Grant, they have to face this veteran who still loves running right over people – never letting his legs stop churning.
- Ted Thompson had his best draft yet. He clearly saw something in Clay Matthews and he absolutely did the right thing by moving up in the draft to get him. Matthews has been as exciting a rookie as we’ve had in years. BJ Raji flashed some big-time talent and some simply shocking quickness for a man his size. TJ Lang appears to have a bright future, Quinn Johnson has obvious raw talent with the potential to be seriously good. Both Jarius Wynn and Brandon Underwood have contributed some and of course, Brad Jones has stepped up and been a big surprise – playing in my mind, better than Aaron Kampman had played at the same position. Ted has had his fair share of misses in other drafts and he still avoids free agency more than I think he should. But the fact is, he was able to pick up several guys who have been able to step right in and perform and he added a couple veterans in Green and Tauscher at key times this year.
- Overall, I’m obviously pleased with 11-5 and a wild card game. Well done team.