31

August

Why The Packers SHOULD Suck During Preseason

Green Bay Packers PreseasonWe all know the story: the preseason games means nothing, but fans nevertheless believe in them like they were the real deal (they’re paying for it like its the real deal, for sure).  A 4-0 record in the preseason has got to mean something, right?

Wrong.  If the Colts have proven anything, it’s that 4-20  (16%) preseason record somehow correlates to a 75-21 (78%) regular season record since 2005.  Obviously Peyton Manning has something to do with this (or a lot to do with this); but the fact remains, predicting regular season success based off of preseason results is like drafting JaMarcus Russell: one party is going to be laughing all the way to the bank while the other is going to be wondering how they got robbed.

Perhaps the most famous example from last year was the Dallas Cowboys.  With Super Bowl XLV being held at “Jerry World”, owner Jerry Jones confidently predicted that his Cowboys were going to be the first team to ever play (and win) a Super Bowl in their own stadium.  Going into the preseason, head coach Wade Phillips assumed they already had the Super Bowl in the bag and so did the players, as they were SO talented, after all.  Preseason practices were held like a travelling circus.  And it showed. The preseason games were lackluster with many mistakes and mental errors, but perhaps more importantly, you could tell the team was coasting through the preseason.

Unfortunately, they forgot to stop coasting when the regular season started; the Cowboys started slow (and lost quarterback Tony Romo in the process) and limped into Lambeau Field with a 1-6 record.  After the drubbing that the Packers laid down on Sunday Night Primetime, Wade Phillips was fired and Super Bowl aspirations were finally put to rest by Jerry and Cowboys fans alike.

While perhaps not as drastic as the 2010 Cowboys, the Packers have experienced the same thing.  The Packers, for whatever reason, always seem to play well in the preseason, making touchdowns; interceptions and big plays look mundane.  For instance, in 2009 preseason Rodgers lit it up; with just a couple of series with the first team offense, Rodgers threw for 465 yards and an average quarterback rating of 124.1.  During the regular season however, by week 4 the Packers were sitting at 2-2 before finally rallying to finish 11-5.

In 2010, again the Packers rocketed out of the gates, with Rodgers recording 470 yards passing in only 3 games and posted a stellar 138.1 average quarterback rating.  The regular season was not as kind and after 6 games the Packers again were staring at a .500 season.  It took winning the last 2 games of the season and a lot of help from other teams (thank you Detroit!) to even make it to the playoffs.

Even when looking at individual games last year, on average the Packers scored as many points in the 1st quarter as they did in the 4th, which is especially odd since 4th quarter scoring is highly predicated on the situation. Drives that eat up the clock or give the backups some playing experience may not net positive points but are still positives for the team.

The Packers always seem to be slow-starters but strong finishers, and partially I think that’s because the preseason makes the team complacent.  No matter what coaches and players say, they do put weight into the preseason. Even if they try to ignore it, the media and the fans will put weight on the preseason, and with the saturation of media that we have today, no player is going to be able to completely filter out what is being said.

This year, perhaps due to the strange situation with the lockout or maybe its just because of hold-over complacency from the Super Bowl, the Packers have not looked as stellar as the last two years.  Aaron Rodgers has posted good numbers again, but has struggled to get anything when not using the no-huddle.  The offensive line has been inconsistent as well with even Josh Sitton, the Packers best and most consistent linemen, making a couple of mistakes and giving up a sack.  The defense has been pretty leaky against the run and the secondary is making mental mistakes in every game.

Does this have to do with the fact that personnel, scheme and game philosophy are different?  Of course, Rodgers has shown good rapport with his receivers, the offensive line is finally settled and the defense was without Clay Matthews III, Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams and a Dom Capers scheme for the majority of every game.

Frankly, I like what I seen in the preseason.  I want to see the Packers mess up; I want to see them get embarrassed a little.  Why? Because that shows everyone that there is a lot that can be improved and nothing drives a person like getting embarrassed.   For example, in golf how many times have you shot a birdie and been critical of yourself for not shooting an eagle?  Not many.  How many times have you shot 7 over par and been critical of yourself?  Probably every time (unless you are like me and suck at golf). How many times have you been critical of yourself after shooting 7 over par on a hole while all your buddies watched you?  Yah, I thought so.

Complacency was the keyword for Mike McCarthy coming into the preseason and it was easy to see why, the Packers had just won a Super Bowl and everyone was picking them to win another.  If the Packers had won handedly every preseason game, no matter how hard the coaches or the players try, no one is going to give their best effort to improve, that’s simply human nature.  But by getting their licks and screwing up now, everyone can directly see where there needs to be improvement.  It also helps because fans and the media won’t uselessly weigh down the team with unrealistic expectations (like they have the last two years).

In the end, it’s better to screw up now when there is no penalty, after all preseason means nothing, right?

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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11 Responses to “Why The Packers SHOULD Suck During Preseason”

  1. Ron LC says:

    After watching the Packers from the late forties until Lombardi, I never experienced the feeling of a winner. I was usually hearing yet another Packer loss over the radio. Ocassionally, I’d see a game at Marqutte Stadium with almost always the same result.

    Then came Vince. He played every game, in season, playoff and pre-season to win. It was then that I absorbed the philosophy that winning, no matter when was the goal.

    It’s taken a long time for me to accept the fact that pre-season losses are no big deal. Now I view pre-season as a teaching opportunity.

    This year for example, I was hoping to get the new LG a whole lot of reps and be ready for the season. In addition, I hoped Clifton’s back-up would be Id’d and given many reps also. MM wanted to evaluate. In either case winning was secondary as it should be.

    Hoping MM’s strategy is the right one. The Packers need to jump off to a good start in order to win the SB again.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Well if history repeats itself, it seem unlikely that the Packers will start off fast. If anything every year it seems like the Packers get beaten by a team they really shouldn’t.

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  2. FireMMNow says:

    For me the mental errors on offense and defense are what scare me. Yeah it is the pre-season, but the real deal is only a little over a week away. Hopefully when the lights come on next thursday this team has the urgency it needs. The team looks complacent. The o-line looks complacent, especially sitton. he has given up two sacks, and while darnell dockett is good, he is not Suh and he is not kevin williams. i only bring sitton up because he is our best lineman, if he is having issues, the rest of the o-line is probably having more.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Preseason is like a mulligan, I would rather see them realize the error in preseason and start working on it when it doesn’t count. At the very worst the team becomes aware of the problem. I think one of the big issues with the offensive line in 2009 was that Allen Barbre seemed ok during the preseason, and it was only when defenses started to throw the kitchen sink at Barbre did he become a matador. At that point there aren’t really that many options and the Packers got lucky with Tauscher.

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  3. Mojo says:

    Boy, we better hope we lose to KC this Thursday.

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Since the game is most likely going to be played by the 2nd and 3rd stringers, its really a 50-50 chance that the Packers lose. 3rd stringers are essentially the same on every team so it’s going to be an even playing field.

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      • edschoenfeld says:

        What fans, the players and the coaches get out of preseason varies. There were years when the Packers ripped through preseason with everything looking like the engin had 16 cylinders, and they got hammered in the regular season, when the other teams stopped playing vanilla.

        Coaches need to evaluate players, moreso this year than any other recently. Players need to prove themselves, and fans need to get a realistic sense of what the team can do. 2010′s blowout of Indy wasn’t indicative of a successful year because it was a blowout — it indicated that the Packers had a lot of depth because our 3rd and 4th stringers kept beating Indy’s 3rd and 4th stringers into the dust.

        So I seriously hope the Packers win and win big in KC. I hope we wind up cutting guys who block punts, intercept passes, and score 97 yard TDs from scrimmage, because (given TTs track record) it means the guys we keep are even better.

        But what I really hope is the MM will spend the entire first week of practice grumbling about “pad level’ and “fixing problems.” He’s been way to happy with what is going on out there — I won’t believe the team is done celebrating last season until the head coach spends a press conference discussing the reconstructive surgery he is going to perform on various players’ posterior regions.

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        • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

          I think the crux of the problem is that people aren’t critical during a blow out; for instance if the Packers destroy the Chiefs do you think players are going to want to improve? Even if they all say yes, deep down they aren’t going to bother and I think that mindset, which is inherently human, is a big factor in the preseason. The easiest way to improve is to see your deficiencies not your strengths

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  4. Chad Lundberg says:

    Man, IDK Hobbes, For some reason I feel like the preseason is irrelevant to the Packers. I think the reasons for their slow starts is elsewhere, IDK. Hey, if you’d like, read my article http://bleacherreport.com/articles/824760-why-aaron-rodgers-is-every-bit-as-good-as-tom-brady-and-peyton-manning

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    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Hey Chad nice to see you over at AGBP! Obviously Rodgers isn’t solely responsible for the Packers slow start, but the quarterback is the most important player on the field and Rodgers was a good example of what I was trying to point out. I bring back Allen Barbre, who definitely was a big reason why the Packers started out slow in 09, he played pretty decent in the preseason and it wasn’t until teams were just matching up 1 on 1 with vanilla moves that Barbre got man handled. I just read your article and the article by Elliot Harrison, wow I love it, I’m almost tempted to write an entire article about it.

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  5. Andy says:

    Citing the Colts does nothing. Since 1940, the Packers have only a .412 winning percentage in the regular season when they have a losing record in the preseason. The Packers have a .606 winning percentage in the regular season when they have a winning record in the preseason. Their post-season performance is also three times better when they’ve done well in the preseason. Say what you want, but there is a correlation between the Packers preseason and regular/post-season performance.

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