Regular season game fourteen at New England: Laying it all on the table « Ol' Bag of Donuts

Regular season game fourteen at New England: Laying it all on the table

Before we begin, dear readers, I feel I must warn you.

The game recap you’re about to read will have little to do with what transpired Sunday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. No, Gene (as always) covered that brilliantly earlier Monday. A 31-27 loss that should have been a win. Green Bay Packers 8-6. Losers of three of four (their second such streak this season).

No, this recap is going to be about me. About you. About us. This one might get a little ugly, but remember, we’re family. We’re all in this together. If we can’t vent to each other then, I mean, what’s the point of all this?

In other words: Get ready, ’cause I’m laying it all on the table.

First, me. In short, I’m beginning to lose my religion with regards to this current bunch of Packers. They’re burning me out. For five years, each and every loss this team has suffered has felt like a punch in the face. The type of losses that leave you on the floor in front of your television set, looking up and screaming for a reason why that week’s disaster unfolded.

How could they have blown it again? Hadn’t they spent the past (fill in the blank) minutes dominating their opponent? Is this ever going to change?

That’s not to say there haven’t been highlights because, of course, there have. My outlook is realist, not glass-is-all-empty. But, at a certain point, those highlights only make you want more. Because, if you’re like me, you feel this team has that in them. I wouldn’t ask for more if I didn’t think it was possible. Without fail, though, whenever this team is forced to hit another level in a huge game against a truly great opponent - and moral victories DO NOT COUNT – the Packers just seem to fall short.

Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. Yeah, but as my mother always says, you didn’t.

It’s getting to the point where a 38-13 loss almost seems a welcomed change of pace. My God, at least that’d be new. As mediocre as the 2010 Packers have been – and make no mistake, they have been mediocre – the reason this year has been the worst I’ve experienced as a fan is because, well, they’re becoming boring. You know how the script is going to unfold most weeks. By my count, there have been exactly two pleasant surprises (beating the Jets in New York and Favre at Lambeau). The rest has either gone like I thought it would or, worse, been a crushing disappointment. Destination: Dallas, indeed.

And yeah, I know this team still has a shot at the postseason. But honestly, who amongst you thinks this team can do ANYTHING come January? If I were to bring that pesky mistress known as history into the mix, I’d say this team is destined for yet another soul-crushing, wrong-end-of-an-Instant-Classic loss, even if it makes it in (which I don’t think it will). I’d love to say things would be different this time. But, you know, I’ve been saying that for 10 years. Honestly, I’m not up to saying it anymore. And, really, a big part of me isn’t even up to witness it.

That’s because, again, everytime I expect greatness – true greatness – I get almost-greatness. Frankly, that’s not enough for me. I don’t root for the Arizona Cardinals or Detroit Lions – I root for the freakin’ 12-time world champion Green Bay Packers. I want excellence. And when I don’t get it, I’m pissed. That’s absolutely as it should be.

Sadly, a scan of Twitter and the comment sections of certain fan sites on Sunday night and Monday show me that a good portion of you guys don’t feel the same way.

You’re happy with moral victories. You praise the effort, say how proud it makes you. You love Mike McCarthy’s gameplan (you know, the one that didn’t have a two-minute drill involved in it). No one expected this result earlier in the day, so we should just be happy with what we got. Oh Chris, you’re being too unrealistic. This team is just too beat up with injuries. What did you expect them to do, go 16-0?

Funny, I had no idea the Packers were in the same conference as Green Bay Southwest and Ashwaubenon High. I thought they were an NFL team comprised of professionals who are paid exhorbitant amounts of money to get the damn job done. I didn’t know they were above being held accountable. I didn’t know I was supposed to be content with where this team is at because, after all, at least it’s better than the 1970s and 80s, right? What the hell – why even bother keeping score, right?

Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m tired of everyone making excuses and covering for the “good ol’ Packers.” The same people who blame the injuries in 2010 blamed the switch to a 3-4 or the offensive line last year. The same people who blamed Bob Sanders and Aaron Rodgers’ youth in 2008. The same people who blamed Favre in 2007. You can blame your whole life away if you so choose. I’m more interested in fixing the damn ship than I am in pointing out why it’s sinking or trying to decide who to cover for. I guess some of you don’t see it that way.

But you know what happens if you keep on making excuses? You settle. You settle for mediocrity. You settle for 10-6 and a first-round exit. You’re just happy to have the Packers, a cold six-pack of beer and a Sunday with some friends. Asking for anything more is just being greedy. And greedy is not a good old-fashioned Midwestern quality.

Well, this guy’s greedy. And so is this website. We will never settle for mediocrity. We will expect wins every time out. Do we expect the team to go 16-0 every year? Of course not. But do we want it? You bet your tail-end we do. If we didn’t, we’d go do something else with our time on Sundays.

And when we don’t get it – particularly in the fashion that we continue to not get it – we will hold people accountable. A friend of my brother’s once referred to our site as, “the voice of the silent minority.” That’s something we’re damn proud of. The three of us will never stray from that. If that’s too much for any of you to handle, well, plenty of other blog options on the table. Like Mike Mac, we are what we are.

And, sorry, but more of you guys need to be that way, too. This is OUR team. WE own it. They answer to US. Too many of you look at it the other way around.

So, consider this a call to action. Take off the green-and-gold glasses. Don’t be so Polydanna (copyright KFAN). Doing so can make the losses a lot tougher. But it makes the wins a hell of a lot sweeter.

-Chris Lempesis

16 comments to Regular season game fourteen at New England: Laying it all on the table

  • Adam Czech

    As I said in the comments section of the previous post, too many Packers fans suffer from Cute Little Team Syndrome. Hey, look at our nice little squad with their neat old stadium, their fun game-day atmospherre and all the history! We sure are lucky to have a team in our tight-knit community! Hey, the stadium is next to a K-Mart! Golly-gee that’s neat! Aren’t we special?!

    This team needs to be held to the same standard as the other teams. Saying you’re proud when the team loses is a horrible sign of the direction this fan base is headed. I really hope that attitude is NOT the majority.

    Anyway, I still think the Packers have just as good a shot of reaching the playoffs and making some noise as any other team. And if they fall on their face, nobody better be proud of their effort.

  • Preach, brother.

    *Battle Hymn of the Republic playing in the background*

  • Bearmeat

    I resent your comment. I don’t suffer from CLTS at all. I am a realist though. Are TT and MM perfect? No. Do I wish MM would be less stubborn in his playcalling? Yes. Do Campen and Slocumb need to be fired after this season? Yes. If GB doesn’t win the next three weeks (I’m including at CHI in WC weekend), THEN we can lament the woulda, shoulda coulda’s. THEN we can say “Look at all these problems that NEVER got fixed throughout the year. Not now, when there is still a VERY good chance to fix them and make this situation right.
    You have to give credit to TT for assembling the deepest roster in the league. Every bit of that depth has been needed this year. You have to give credit to MM for the offense even being passable in light of the injuries to Finley and Grant. You do realize that between the hash marks MM’s playcalling was severely limited with those two injuries right? Beyond even that, you have to give major props to the defense in light of the injuries to so many important players on D. (Barnett, Burnett, Jones, Zombo, Jenkins, Pickett, Neal, Harell, Bigby, Martin, Smith, Lee – I mean, the list goes on!)
    Beyond injuries, (which have been horrible this year as everyone knows) there have been a massive series of bad bounces the Bears have gotten all year that have gone against GB. The stark contrast in luck for CHI and against GB is unbelievable.
    For example:
    1. Crosby’s kick at the end of the game hitting the upright from over 50 yards out.
    2. Jones’ fumble miraculously staying in bounds at CHI in the end of the game.
    3. The bogus covering the long snapper call against MIA
    4. Terrible officiating throughout the CHI game that always seemed to benefit CHI.
    5. Literally being 1 yard away from beating NE and ATL in their places.
    6. A questionable call on Jennings’ no catch in DET for the TD.
    7. The sure fire 70 yd TD somehow ricocheting directing out of Jennings hands into the DET safety.
    Bottom line, if GB beats NYG next week (which will be an admittedly tough game), then I have no doubt they’ll destroy Chicago two times in a row. They are a much better team than the Burrs. Next up would be Atlanta, which GB can and should beat. That would bring them to the NFC CG, and who knows what happens then? I’d say that would be a pretty good season, considering everything – wouldn’t you?

  • Bearmeat

    Just to clarify – I really enjoy your site. I like your passion for the best football team in the history of the world. Everything is great at OBOD when GB wins. However, I have noticed this year that when GB loses a somewhat less than fair picture of the team has emerged from both of you. It looks a little like someone who quits a job everytime something doesn’t go his way. It diminishes the quality of your site, which is too bad.

  • Chris, I at the same time love and dislike this post.

    I love the sentiment. And I totally agree on some of it. There are no moral victories. Do the Packers get champagne showers and warm smiles and puppy dogs after the game Sunday night because they did better than most people expected? NO.

    But in some ways I am proud of the game. And by saying that, it doesn’t make me someone who settles, it makes me someone who can look at the game objectively and see what was done well, and who wants to take those things and grow them. I know, I know, we’ve been there. All season, for years, there’s things to take from every close loss, that could make us great, and yet somehow we end up without greatness. So maybe to you, and to many, I’m just naive. But I do see a team that came to play, that quite honestly, up until the last play (and yes, last play, not last drive) played balls to the wall. And while they get no points for that in the Patriots game, perhaps they can get points for that in the Giants game…That’s where I see good potential. Not in the outcome of the last game, but in what could be for the next games.

    If the Packers come out and fall flat and can not beat the Giants or the bears, then yes, I will be all up in arms, but until then, I’m staying on my ship. Its not me not holding people accountable or wanting change. There are things in each of our close games, that can and should be addressed. I completely agree that the end of the game looked like a disaster and I completely want to shake MM violently for his answer in the presser that it wasn’t chaotic. No one knew if it was first down or fourth and by the time they figured it out it was too late. And no one on our special teams likes to tackle, or for the love of God STAY IN THERE LANES. I can be mad about these things. I can call for accountability and at the same time praise the game plan which seemed to fit Flynn and the offense almost perfectly.

    I would not be a happy camper just to have my team, some beers and some friends and watch the game. I take each loss very personally. I scream, I cry, I throw things, I scare most of the people in my life. But at the same time, I also try to see each game for all its good and all its bad. That might make me a a settler to some, but to me, it makes me a fan, and for that I will not apologize or change.

  • Jeff Stevens

    I want to make a point that I hope is widespread amongst Packer Nation, I am NOT, Repeat NOT, proud of any loss. I AM proud of a Team that has continued to compete and stuggle as each new face has stepped up and contributed as the man in front of him has gone done!! That alone deserves the respect and admiration of this fanbase IMHO. It speaks to the astounding depth of this team. There have been issues all year, Penalties, Play-calling, Preparedness, Special Teams, Offensive Line play, it would have been very easy for this team to become infected with the “not this year bug”, and just lay down. They have not. I agree they are Professionals, this is their job, and they are handsomely paid.
    I am proud of the effort put forth by elements of the team in each game, win or lose, just as I am embarassed by other elements. I do not believe that saying that I am proud of the effort put forth by those deserving of praise means that I am a fan that has chosen to settle for mediocrity. Do I expect my chosen team to win each and every time, in my heart the answer is yes, in my head I know what the realities are.
    I will continue to do what fans are supposed to do, Cheer for, and Support my team! I will be proud of good play and critical of poor! I will expect that my team will constantly chase perfection, and in the end will catch excellance!!

    GO PACK GO!!!!!

  • Mitch

    If taking off the green-and-gold glasses results in me seeing things in black and white, as it seems you’re calling for, I think I’ll keep them, and my ability to see shades of grey, on. Sometimes what people see as “making excuses” is simply pointing out cause and effect.

    Don’t get me wrong–five of our close losses this season had me ripping my hair out. But that was because our team was more talented and (supposedly) better coached than the teams we lost to. The way our team endured at the Patriots gave me hope going forward. My #1 issue that I’ve had with the team so far is the lackadaisical way we’ve entered many games–all of our losses and some of our wins. Maybe it takes playing with our backs against the wall to fix it.

    I understand where you’re coming from on this one. Really. But as much as you’d say you’d prefer 38-13 losses, we’ve been there, and we know they suck just as much. I love the site and reading what you guys think, but I just flat out disagree on this one.

  • To clarify one thing, at least from my perspective: Nobody’s disputing the effort level. There’s no question the Packers played hard on Sunday night, and, I thought, played one of their most physical games of the season. My biggest problem is with the late-game execution, and that’s why I get upset with McCarthy especially. You have to be able to control the moment in those situations, because unless you’re like the ‘96 Packers and can roll through teams by three touchdowns in the playoffs, you’re going to have some harrowing moments in the postseason. I’m not sure McCarthy is equal to that task, and it bugs me that the Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers, Cardinals and Saints have all represented the NFC in the Super Bowl since the last time the Packers were there.

    It’s funny, because while the climate is 100 percent different, the Packers are, in many ways, the New York Yankees of football. Championships should be the expectation every year, particularly in an economic climate where the Packers can compete. That’s what we’re about here, and while the team played hard in the face of a daunting situation on Sunday, wins are what count, and there were still enough recurring mistakes to prevent that from happening. That’s what bugs me.

  • Jeff Stevens

    Gene-OBOD….recurring mistakes have, and will continue to, bug us all! We want a Championship Team! Champions learn from mistakes, and do not continue to make the same ones over and over!! No one is happy, or proud, of the continued mistakes by the team or coaching staff!!

    Adam-please feel free to never use the term “Cute Little Team Syndrome” Or “CLTS” again….it is a slap in the face to one of the greatest fanbases in the entire NFL! No cares that the stadium is near a K-Mart, with the exception, apparently, of you! It is a real cute comment, not realistic, or insightful to any real conversation regarding The Green Bay Packers or their Fans! The Fans of the Green Bay Packers know as much, or more, about football than virtually any fanbase going. Try to remember your audience!!

  • [...] I read Chris’ post at Ol’ Bag of Donuts. I always like his writing, but as my compadre Jayme Joers commented, [...]

  • JimR_in_DC

    Jeff, don’t be to harsh on Adam. After all, our “one of the greatest fanbases in the entire NFL” included a huge fair weather contingent of fans that went with Favre, instead of staying with the Green Bay Packers. That’s completely pathetic. I agree with Adam that there are a lot of fans that have come to be happy with “almost greatness,” and moral victories. I hope I’m never one of those people.

  • Two Jet Winston

    Bearmeat, we should get a beer sometime.

    OBOD Crew, you guys do a great job here. I’ve plugged this site to all my friends and will continue to. But you’re just wrong about this one. Moral victories are for Detroit. Championships are for Green Bay. Anything less is a failure. Analysis is for bloggers. That said, your take on MM is just flat-out wrong.

    From the looks of the comments you have good readers – the mark of a good site.

  • Two Jet Winston

    Clarification: You’re right the hell on about demanding excellence. You’re wrong about calling for McCarthy’s head. There isn’t a better head coach available. (Cowher, Gruden, Dungy, and 95% of current HCs included).

  • Bearmeat

    Thanks Two Jet. Great minds think alike! :)
    Moral victories are for losers, but any other team that has been hit with injuries as hard as we have this year would have folded up shop by now. We have better depth than any team in the league. when Finley, Barnett, Burnett, and Neal went down in consecutive weeks, I recalibrated my expectations for this year. You have to get lucky to win it all in the salary cap era. Period.
    The time management and poor playcalling is frustrating, but only time will tell if McCarthy can fix these problems. Remember last year – when our O couldn’t be stopped? You want to take that away? Because THAT was the product of McCarthy. ’08’s Offense wasn’t terrible either. ‘07 was pretty good. YOU DON’T FIRE A COACH FOR ONE OFF YEAR!
    Yes the stupid mistakes are maddening – but you HAVE to take into account the revolving door the Packers have had at almost every position on the field this year. IF they don’t make the playoffs (yes, even with their backups) THEN let’s talk about putting McCarthy on the hot seat. He’s not even close to on it now.

  • Nate

    Thanks to Bearmeat and Two Jet for their comments; I won’t bother re-typing what they’ve posted.

    I am frustrated with the close losses. I’m not happy with “almost”. I want winners and championships. Period. But I have to take a step back, try to see through my own emotions, and try to keep things in perspective.

    MM is a good coach. TT has built a damn good, deep team. They have flaws and those flaws are debated endlessly and will be until they win it all. Fair enough.

    It’s good we have a forum here where we can agree, disagree, post our comments, yet still walk away knowing we are all here wanting the same thing: championships.

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