Waking up the day after your team’s season ends feels a lot like waking up the day after being dumped.
The finality. The embarrassment. The sense of failure. It just…it just stinks.
But that’s where we are today, a day after the Green Bay Packers were (quite literally) ran out of the playoffs, losing on the road to the San Francisco 49ers by a 45-31 count.
As much as I maybe don’t want to, I suppose I should give you some takeaways from the season-ending defeat, huh? Okay, here we go:
- Even now, a day after the loss, I’m still in shock – and still mortified – as to how badly this defense played. A defense that kept Adrian Peterson under 100 yards last week was completely ripped apart on the ground, allowing 323 – 323! – rushing yards on 43 attempts. In case you were wondering, yeah, that’s 7.5 yards a clip. There was no containment, guys were overplaying things all over the place and getting flat-out fooled by San Francisco’s read-option offense. It was almost as though they had no clue, or no real plan, for what they were up against. It was, in a word, pathetic. In a sense, it looked a lot like Green Bay’s first two games against Peterson. That made last night even more difficult to stomach, as it seemed the Packers had finally figured how to attack a run-first offense. Snake eyes on that roll, huh?
- That your defensive coordinator – a man who has been around the game forever – can’t or won’t make any adjustments or have his guys better prepared for what is, essentially, a high school-level offense, says a lot about Dom Capers. Namely, it says he needs to be relieved of his duties. In three of his four years as the man in charge of the defense, Capers has seen his units torn to shreds when it matters most (Arizona in 2010, New York last year and now this). The first two of those are a little more understandable – Kurt Warner and Eli Manning are great quarterbacks who have wrecked a lot of defenses. But to allow a second-year player, making his first postseason start, to account for 444 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns is inexcusable. It should be the final nail in Capers’ coffin in Titletown.
- I mean, how often did you even see someone spying Colin Kaepernick last night? I can only really think of one play where Brad Jones was filling that role. It may have happened more and I just didn’t notice it, but it sure didn’t appear that way.
- For the “players make or don’t make plays, not coaches” crowd, yes, you have some valid points after this one. Clay Matthews, for example, was far too quiet considering his opponent, left tackle Joe Staley, appeared to be playing with one good arm. Tramon Williams failed to adequately cover for most of the night. Erik Walden was a nightmare to watch. Pretty much anyone not named Sam Shields had a bad night for the defense, really.
- Mike McCarthy abandoning the run in the second half really put this offense in a tough spot. It was unnecessary to do and ended up forcing Aaron Rodgers to do everything himself. You knew then this team was in deep trouble.
- For the night, Rodgers turned in a solid showing and did his all to keep this team in the game. Considering how badly the defense played, the game would’ve been over much quicker in the hands of a lesser quarterback. He only really made one bad decision and that interception wouldn’t have hurt the team so much if someone would’ve tackled Tarell Brown on his return.
- Shows you how little we know – Adam and I both said on our podcast this past week that if the offensive line kept Aldon Smith and Justin Smith in check, the Packers would win. Well, the two only accounted for one quarterback hit and the Niners still romped. For what it’s worth, though, the offensive line did turn in a nice performance as a whole.
- Should McCarthy have punted on 4th and 5 near midfield with his team down 14 early in the fourth? Absolutely not. What faith could he have possibly had in his defense at that point? It’s five yards. You have the MVP under center. It’s the playoffs. I’ll never understand that decision. Certainly not his best coaching job overall last night.
- So, now it’s over and we’re left with one big question: Was this team really that good? The answer is yes AND no, I’ve decided. The Packers won their division for the second year in a row. They also racked up 11 wins. Those things aren’t easy to do. BUT, they also went 2-4 against playoff teams. The offense took a major step back from its record-setting 2011 pace and the defense – despite overall improvement – was shredded in five of the team’s six losses (allowing 30+ points in each of those five defeats). And, as I said on Twitter last night, for a team and a city that defines itself by titles, this season was indeed a failure. That doesn’t mean you can’t take away good games or moments or say you had fun watching them – it just means the ultimate mission fell short. That’s all.
- It’s probably unfair to say this team finds itself at a major crossroads this offseason. But it’s certainly a big one, as numerous changes could loom on the horizon. I’ll be writing about that on this site in the next few days, so be sure to pop back here when you can.
- Lastly, thanks to everyone who has started migrating back to our site over the second half of the year. I know we dropped off the radar there for awhile, but we’re back and it feels great to say that. The season is over, but we aren’t going anywhere.