Pothole on the Road to Repeat
Written by Brady Augustine Thursday, 14 April 2011 10:53
A couple years ago, after the Packers lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals, GPN touted on our Q5 podcast that the Packers would be back and that Aaron Rodgers' star was rising. At the beginning of last season, when the season was young (and by young, I mean not even started) we believed in a team that we thought had every right to take their rightful place in NFL history by bringing home what we called "Lucky 13" because true Packers fans consider themselves lucky to be fans of the only team with 13 NFL titles. Shortly after the Super Bowl was over and all the confetti had been swept away. We once again brazenly proclaimed that the Packers stood as good a chance as anyone of getting beyond the "repeat slump" and taking another shot at it all.
Then came the Lockout
With the failed CBA fading in the rear-view mirror and the slow heavy swing of Justice's gavel arcing over the NFL and the group of players formerly known as a players union, the Packers situation has changed. Now, instead of anticipating another bumper crop of draft picks and tuning up some second and third year players to run with them this off-season, this young Packer team is left with too much time on their hands (am I the only one to hear Styx music when I read that line? I think not). This could be disastrous to the Packers' chances to repeat even if the NFL gets its act together in time.
For several years, the Cheese (GPN's humor blog) has made fun of some recurring themes in Ted Thomson's administration. We all knew what Ted was about from the beginning and the Cheese could not help but put a slant on it, such as:
- "Draft. Cut. Sleep. Repeat."
- "You can never have too many good players...unless one of those players is Brett Favre."
- "We like the stiffs we got."
Such quips get to the heart of the way Ted Thompson has built this team, a fact that is always true of satirical humor. Here is the real sense of Ted Thompsense:
- I will build through the draft
- I will run this organization, veterans and rookies alike will follow my lead. If you are not on board, you will soon be wearing another jersey.
- I will make decisions that give my team what I think is the best value and the best chance for success. I will never look back and I will not short-circuit my team's morale by wishful thinking, overreaching, or overpaying.
This is the way Ted Thompson built a champion. A team built through the draft that was for years the youngest in the league finally grew up at a young age and under the leadership of a young head coach and quarterback, they won it all.
But within the wider problems the NFL faces to get games underway in 2011, the Ted Thompson has a more specific problem. How to keep such a young team focused under the circumstances. There is very little TT can do and though his strategy for building our team is right on the money, but I fear there may be another Johnny Jolly or Brandon Underwood episode on the horizon. Coach McCarthy has been clear about the difficulty of dealing with success from the beginning but the equation has changed. Instead of a much needed rest, followed by the controlled environment of the Lambeau facilities and the regular supervision by himself and his staff with preseason games and a run for a repeat title on the horizon, we see an open ended off-season filled with extra time and uncertainty. One side of the equation might look like this:
Youth + Time + Money + Success = ???
What does this add up to for you? For me it is not a positive. Not that disaster is expected but the situation gives me pause. If the off-season were a normal one, I would expect hard work and the experience of veterans and coaches to minimize the impact of youth, but now, who knows? Think of young people who have time, money, and fame and many of them are anything but role models. We'll see what happens but the NFL needs to get it's players back to work.
That's how I see it.