20

June

Green Bay Packers: Good, Lucky or Both?

Favre and Rodgers

Favre and Rodgers stand to represent nearly 30 years of elite quarterback play in Green Bay

While we are in between the NFL off season and the start of the preseason, football happenings are in short supply.  Well, at least the on-field happenings are.  With some added time to reflect, I’m reminded of the fortune that has befallen the Green Bay Packers.  Which fortune, you ask?  I’d argue that it’s the most important one for a football team to be successful:  the quarterback position.

2013 marks nearly 21 years since Brett Favre made his first career start, the first of just over 250 consecutive starts for the Packers.  Favre spent 16 seasons in Green Bay and played at a high level during each and every one.  It’s fair to say, save for the 1999 and 2005 teams, those Packers teams were, at the very least, good.

Quarterbacks like Favre come along only once in a great while, if you look at the general averages among all 32 NFL teams and their histories.  To have a signal caller of that caliber is something to cherish and I have made mention of that before.

Then came Aaron Rodgers.  Expected to possibly go #1 overall in the 2005 draft, we all know the story.  Rodgers fell to the Packers towards the end of the first round and spent his first three seasons behind Favre, learning the in’s and out’s of being an NFL quarterback.  The way that Rodgers fell wasn’t something that the Packers or Ted Thompson planned on.  No amount of convincing will change my mind on that thought.  There was an element of luck associated with that day and it is now one that not many of the Packers faithful will forget.

When the team decided to move on from Favre in 2008, Rodgers stepped in and statistically, had a good season.  The team went 6-10 that year and many of those losses were by fewer than five points and came down to the last few plays.  In 2009, Rodgers led the team to a winning record and a playoff appearance.  The Packers have been to the postseason every year since.  What started out as a stroke of luck turned out to also be good.

The Packers have won two Super Bowls over the past 20 years, with each Favre and Rodgers claiming one.  It is often said that any team can be good, but it takes a little bit of luck to get over that  hump and win a championship.  To be one out of 32 teams that comes out on top.

I started to look up how many quarterbacks the Bears, Vikings and Lions have gone through in the last 21 seasons but then I stopped.  It’s well over 20.  The Lions and Vikings have also gone through their fair share.  And how many Super Bowl wins did that that get them?  Zero.  In fact, the Vikings and Lions haven’t even made an appearance in a Super Bowl during that span.  The Bears went to one in 2007 and lost to the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts.  Those Colts were yet another example of a team that struck gold with their quarterback.

The Bears won the division that season and played well, but it stands to reason that the lack of a top-tier quarterback was a reason that they came up short.  Rex Grossman obviously played well enough for those Bears to be successful, but he never did turn out to be any sort of top-notch passer.

Jersey Al just published a thought about some of the comments that Rodgers made during his recent interview with ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde.  Rodgers stated that, if he is still playing well, he would like to outplay his current contract and remain a Packer.  If he does, Green Bay could become the benefactor of nearly 30 continuous years of some of the best quarterbacking that the NFL has ever seen.

The closest example that I can give, in recent NFL history, would be Joe Montana and Steve Young in San Francisco.  Their combined run spanned two decades.  Favre and Rodgers have already achieved that milestone and Rodgers still has some good years ahead.  They both accomplished what they did in different ways but have two things in common:  they’re both good and both had a little luck, too.

Injuries can always change things (and let’s hope they don’t) but I thought it worth another mention as to just how lucky the Green Bay Packers have been when it comes to their quarterback position.  Does that win them a championship year after year?  No.  But then again, no team wins every year.  In order to win, you have to get into the playoffs.  For the most part, the Packers have been one of the NFL’s best in remaining relevant for over two decades.

Good, lucky or both, cherish this era in Packers history.  We may never see another stroke of good fortune like this in Green Bay, or the NFL, again.

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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40 Responses to “Green Bay Packers: Good, Lucky or Both?”

  1. Savage57 says:

    Think about the history of the position for the Packers. Herber, Isbell, Comp, Rote, Starr, Dickey, Majik, Favre, Rodgers.

    Some teams have a history of outstanding LB’s. For others, it’s RB’s. The list goes on.

    But for this team from Green Bay, it’s always been about QB’s. Let’s hope it continues.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  2. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    This is all very true Jason. We are very blessed to have back to back HOF’ers at the most important position in sports.

    But IMO if Rodgers doesn’t at least win one more championship, it’ll go down in history as only a modest success.

    Fair or not, QB’s are measured by the number of wins in the last game of the season. Favre lost chances he should have won in 1995, 1997, 2003, and 2007.

    Rodgers has already arguably lost winnable playoff games in 2009 and 2012. (I know – mostly not his fault, but still).

    Here’s hoping GB can bring home 2 more Lombardi’s before ARod retires. I think they can, but like you said, it takes skill and luck.

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  3. Chad Lundberg says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      Don’t worry, there’s a series that will be starting on Monday to keep you occupied for a bit.

      But yes… slow offseason as always.

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    • steve cheez says:

      Sure beats talking about Del Gaizo taking over for Hunter…

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    • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

      Yes, Chad, we are definitely in a slower period. The Rodgers/Jason Wilde interview spurned some good thoughts with regards to Rodgers and this was one that hit me. If there is something you guys want to learn more about or think would be of interest, always feel free to share. I have taken past ideas from the “peanut galler” and turned them into posts so don’t hold back!

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      It can be tough to find something to write about in June. Tune in on Monday. Start of a 10-part series you’re going to love…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      • Stroh says:

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. Stroh says:

    What’s with all the Rodgers articles? I mean he’s the absolute least of our worries!

    Mostly VERY smart. Thompson knew he would be heavily criticized for taking Rodgers but he also knew it was the best decision. Little lucky he became the best QB in the NFL.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

    • Dobber says:

      Even moreso was his precipitous slide on draft day that took a player who some considered to be the top player in that draft to the 20s where the Packers were waiting.

      My hope is that we’ll see the same kind of good fortune in Lacy’s and/or Franklin’s slide.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

      The recent Wilde interview was a big catalyst for the Rodgers content. Until camp starts, it will be a bit quiet on the news front (unless you live in New England)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Dobber says:

    We’re talking lucky without the context of the 80s and early 90s…Dickey, Whitehurst, Wright, Dilweg, Kiel, Tomczak…and someone brought up Majkowski who was OK, but always 5 attempts from his next INT, and only started a very short time before blowing his shoulder and opening the door for Favre.

    We can talk lucky, or we can talk about the law of averages coming around…

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  6. Mojo says:

    I believe Wolf had targeted Favre, so that was a case of being good.

    With Rodgers it was mostly luck. They(TT and his crew) were “good” in that they knew not to pass-up a highly rated talent at a key position, especially when many were wondering when the Packers were going to get a suitable replacement for an aging Favre. But they were lucky in that Rodgers was even better than they suspected. I remember reading about TT and MM at a Rodgers practice where he was wowing everyone present. TT & MM just turned and looked at each other acknowledging without speaking that they had something special. It was at that time that they realized they had found their heir apparent.

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    • Oppy says:

      Wow, you’re going to some great lengths to project that Wolf was skillful but TT was just lucky.

      TT and his staff, as well as every other NFL personnel staff in the league, exhaustively scout all worthwhile players expected to be drafted.

      Now, I wouldn’t suggest that Rodgers was “Targeted” by TT per se.. only in the sense that they probably didn’t believe he would realistically be available beyond the top 5 picks in the draft, when they were picking at number 24. That does not, however, imply or suggest that TT and the Packers did not have Rodgers rated as the best QB in the draft, or that they did not think he was the best player in the draft, or that they didn’t think he was a superstar waiting to happen.

      This logic that because Rodgers was available at 24 somehow diminished the Packers’ talent evaluation is simply a very flawed, though popular, line of logic.

      Furthermore, you are making gross assumptions about the meaning of a non-verbal look between MM and TT and projecting your own bias into the deep meaning and nature of said non-verbal exchange, as reported by some journalists from a distance of probably dozens of yards..

      You have construed that this silent look in a moment of time equated to, “Wow, look at this kid we took a flyer on, he’s way better than we thought he was, we really got lucky!”

      Couldn’t that non-verbal glace that took place just as easily have been, “Our scouting dept really nailed it on this kid, he’s everything our notes said he would be, 23 other teams are stupid”, or even, “Holy SMOKES, would you look at that rack on the girl in the front row with the Lombardi shirt on!?”

      bias, bias, bias.

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      • Oppy says:

        I want to note that I’m not implying the Packers nailed their assessment of Rodgers, either. Simply that we do not know, and probably never will know, anything more than the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers at #24 in the 2005 draft and ‘we think it worked out pretty okay’, as Ted Thompson might comment about it. :)

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  7. Nopainnogain says:

    It is always good to pause for a moment to appreciate what we have. too many fans today get caught up in their feelings of entitlement because the media has somehow trained them to believe that anything less than a Superbowl is unacceptable. In the end, it only hurts themselves and makes them miserable 90% of the time. A true fan appreciates the team through the good times and supports them through the bad. remember, the world owes you nothing

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      Hear, hear!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • cow42 says:

      Bullsh@t.

      I don’t feel like the Packers “owe” me anything.

      I just know that any year a team has an elite QB and doesn’t win the SB is a wasted year.

      Those elite QB’s aren’t around forever and don’t come around very often. If you’re lucky enough to have one, you should do everything possible to go for a championship every year he’s behind center.

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      • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

        “… you should do everything possible to go for a championship every year he’s behind center.”

        And in that single statement, you have shown that you don’t understand how the NFL works.

        The Packers ARE doing everything possible. But some people want them to go “all in” to get that next ring. However, that completely destroys the “every year” aspect of your statement. That kind of franchise management is unsustainable. It might get you one championship, but you’re going to be left reeling afterwards.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

        • Mojo says:

          Right Chad. With proper training combined with the new rules protecting QB’s there’s no reason an ‘elite’ QB can’t take you to the promised-land even in his mid-to late thirties. Look how effective Messrs. Brady, Manning and even Favre are and were “past their prime”.

          Assuming ARod stays healthy and interested, the window is open for at least seven more years. No reason to gamble everything for a two year fix.

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        • Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

          Completely agreed. Let’s look at the past 10 years of “All-in” teams:

          1. 2012 Redskins (Shanny stupidly got RG3 hurt trying to win in the WC Round)

          2. 2011 Eagles (Need I say more)

          3. 2009 Vikings (Ditto)

          4. 2008 Browns (Remember Braylon Edwards PROMISE to win it all?)

          5. 2007 Redskins (Enough vets to get the the playoffs in Gibbs’ last year. Not enough to win a playoff game)

          6. 2006 Broncos

          7. 2005 Chargers

          I could go on.. but I don’t feel like doing the work.

          The point is: (Cow, are you listening??)

          If you go “All-in” in one year, you could get deeper into the playoffs. About a 50/50 shot.

          OR you could get immediately worse. (like all these teams did)

          Not since TB won it in 2002 has the “All-in” approach “worked”. And that team has been suffering EVER SINCE.

          Conclusion: All-In approaches (Read Big Time Free Agents) are a crapshoot in the short term and guarantee failure long term.

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        • Batavia Greg says:

          I don’t believe that the Packers have to go “all in” to get AR a second ring but I think that something more needs to be done. For example, look at Tom Brady and the Patriots. Brady came into the league in 2000; AR in 2005. Yet, Brady has 3 SB wins in 5 SB appearances with only 5 more years in the NFL. Granted, AR could duplicate or even surpass Brady’s accomplishments in the next 5 years but that is highly unlikely.

          I understand the way the cap works and that the NFL as a whole benefits from parity, but Cow is right. An elite QB is a blessing but one that lasts for only a limited number of years. I wonder if there is anything that the Patriots are doing that the Packers aren’t but could. What are your thoughts on the matter?

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          • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

            The last time the Patriots won a Super Bowl was the 2004-05 season… That’s almost 10 years ago now. They really caught lightning in a bottle, especially since those 3 wins in 4 years were each won by a field goal. But though they’ve made two appearances since, they haven’t won another Lombardi.

            And really, I think cow and others like him would view a Super Bowl loss the same as a playoff loss… it’s not a championship.

            Finally – and though I’m not one for conspiracy theories – there’s some evidence that cheating could have played part in their success. Obviously you have to have a good team and good coaching to get the job done, but it’s a cloud that will forever hang over them.

            Plus, you look at other elite quarterbacks, and they’re having just as hard a time winning multiple championships as Rodgers – Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in particular. It’s a lot harder to go all the way than people think, especially when an impact play here or there can really swing the pendulum and affect the outcome.

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          • Nopainnogain says:

            The Patriots are pretty much the most successful team in the past decade and the closest thing to a dynasty since the Bradshaw Steelers. I think it’s a bit much to automatically expect that kind of success, no matter who your quarterback is. even the Pats needed alot of luck. Without the “tuck-rule” fiasco they don’t even reach XXXVI. they only won each of their Superbowls by 3 points, a very slim margin that easily could have gone another way. what you seem to be expecting is not a simple accomplishment

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            • Batavia Greg says:

              I agree with you. The Patriots are the most successful team in the past decade and the closest thing to a dynasty since Terry Bradshaw’s Steelers. But no one has answered the question I posed to Chad that I made simply to spur thought and discussion (for the life of me, I have no idea why anyone would give me a “dislike” for doing so except that it proves the truth to the expression, “no good deed goes unpunished”) and that question is: What is it that they are doing that we could be doing but are not? Is it the selective but effective use of free agency to fill needs? If not, what is it?

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              • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

                One thing I will say – and it’s something people tend to forget – is that the Patriots not only had Tom Brady, but they had a very strong running game and defense. In fact, in the 3 championship seasons, Brady never threw for more than 4,000 yards. In 2001, it was even less than 3,000. Meanwhile, the defense racked up 39 sacks or more each year. Add Antowain Smith, Kevin Faulk, and Corey Dillon as running backs, and you have a recipe for success.

                As far as the managerial aspect went, I don’t have the knowledge to explain how they acquired the players they did. But one thing I will give you is that Rodgers has never had the running game Brady used to have. He did, though, have a great defense in the 2010 Super Bowl season.

                There’s so many factors that it’s really hard to compare the two franchises, especially in different decades. But the fact remains that the 2001-2005 Patriots are the rarity in this league.

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              • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

                BTW… One thing you also have to ask yourself: why haven’t the Patriots been able to duplicate their success since then?

                I think they’d be the first to tell you it’s not an easy thing to do.

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              • Nopainnogain says:

                I just don’t think there is something that the Pats did that the Packers aren’t attempting. Thompson has gone after free agents before like Benson and Saturday. As much as people hate to hear it, luck and chance could easily be the only things that are missing. The margin for error in the NFL is that small. It’s a game of inches.

                Maybe the Pats happened to hit on one or two more draft picks or had one or two less injuries or a fortuitous bounce here or there. There is some degree of randomness and statistical deviation to these sorts of things. Nothing is certain or concrete.

                consider 2011 when we lost to the eventual-champion Giants. take away grant’s fumble in our own redzone and the hail mary Nicks caught before halftime, and it’s a whole different ballgame. that’s 2 plays, out of 140+ that made the difference. you could say plenty of games are decided by one play.

                nearly every SB champ has at least one point in their run where 1 play occurring differently would have flipped the outcome of a game and ended their season.

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              • Oppy says:

                Did the Patriots do all that much more in FA than the Packers? I don’t know.. During their SB runs during the first 4 years of the turn of the century, they certainly brought in a bunch of guys, but there weren’t any huge names brought in from FA.. mostly a lot of guys who were unheralded, some of which ended up blossoming into major role players for the Pats- guys like Mike Vrabel, for instance, who had done very little of note for the Steelers for four years before being brought in to the Pats. Perhaps the biggest name brought into the Pats via FA during that time was Corey Dillion.. Or Terrell Buckley.

                I don’t know that the way the Pats used FA during those years of 2000-2004 is all that much different from how the Packers have utilized it. Bring in a bunch of guys that your pro personnel and scouting dept think have some talent, hope something sticks. Perhaps the Pats were more successful at it; it certainly helps when you have the greatest HCing mind of all time putting guys in position to succeed (sorry Vince, Coach BB is the man).

                Sometimes I think Packers fans disregard the fact that the Packers are actually quite active in acquiring FA’s.. It’s just not the type of FA’s Packers fans find glamorous, so they are brushed off.

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            • Two Bears, One Cup says:

              What about the 49ers of the 80s and 90s? Or the early 90s Cowboys? I would call those teams dynasties.

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              • Nopainnogain says:

                if you call those teams a dynasty, then that makes the patriots a dynasty

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              • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

                They were also operating in a much different NFL, especially when it came to player management.

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      • Nopainnogain says:

        saying that a year w/o a SB is a “wasted year” is basically tantamount to saying that GB & Arod owe you a SB.

        as others have stated, going “all-in” in a given year actually shortens your window for getting a SB. it destroys your cap for the next years and rarely ever gets close to paying off in a SB. one or two unlucky bounces or injuries and you’re history.

        by practicing controlled, fiscally responsible improvement, you prolong your window and give the team as many chances to win the SB as possible by eventually getting a season with good bounces and health. that’s the way you win in today’s game

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  8. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    Well said Chad and No Pain.

    GB needs to shore up the running game and get the DL/S/OLB worked out. They’re not that far from the top of the heap. They can do it. This year.

    And the good news is that they’ll have the same opportunity for most of the next decade because TT/Russ Ball/MM/AR all rock.

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  9. Since '61 says:

    There is no question that the Packers and us as fans have been fortunate to have Favre followed by Rodgers. Throughout this period the Packers have consistently made the playoffs and won 2 SB’s in 3 appearances. The issues for GB has not been the QBs but the level of play of their teammates especially in playoff games. This is the result of usually drafting in the bottom third of the league, year after year. All in all TT does well considering he is usually 26 or later in the draft. The coaching staff does a great job of coaching especially considering the number of injuries every year. However, come playoff time often face teams like SF that has had several seasons of poor records but high draft choices that finally receive good coaching like SF has now. The more talented draft choices begin to win. Our QBs may be better than our opponents but the supporting cast has not often matched their level of play, although they make the playoffs consistently. Maybe we stay healthy one of these seasons and take it all again. Go Pack! Thanks, Since ’61

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  10. FITZCORE1252 says:

    I’m not a religious guy, but… We’re blessed.

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  11. Stroh says:

    Here’s the deal w/ the Rodgers draft pick. Per Harlan interview/article I read a couple years ago.

    Thompson started getting indications from associates/scouts/informers in the week/days before the draft that Rodgers was falling. When he got some indications of that he started to scout Rodgers a lot harder than he had previously. To that point, he had scouted him, but given up on any chance of getting him. When his associates/sources indicated Rodgers might fall, Thomson scouted him really hard. And basically wanted him bad. He wasn’t going to mortgage the future to get him (he already had a Franchise QB), but he wanted him.

    On draft day after Rodgers started to fall outside the top 10, it started to become clear the Packers had a very good chance of drafting him, unless a team traded up (and gave up a lot) to get him.

    A couple picks before the Packers were on the clock, Thompson talked to Harlan and told him, that there was a very strong chance he was gonna take Rodgers and in the process piss off quite a few players/fans who wanted another Favre SB run. Harlan told Thompson… “Its your team to run, you do what you think is best for the Packers.”

    Rodgers fell to the Packers, Thompson was smart enough and had the foresight to draft the best chance to get the Packers next Franchise QB. The rest is history. Rodgers sat and for the most part, learned on his own w/o a lot of help from Favre, and grew into the best player in the NFL.

    True story, from what I’ve read from Harlan, and pieced together from other articles.

    To the best of anyone’s knowledge, outside REAL football circles, that’s basically how things transpired.

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    • Stroh says:

      The rumors/indications that Rodgers was falling, where to the point that a scout/GM from another team actually asked Thompson if he was ready to draft Rodgers, cuz it was becoming that clear he was gonna fall… Hard!

      Thompson told that person that he probably would. Cuz he wouldn’t totally tip his hand.

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    • Oppy says:

      ‘This was Ted Thompson’s first draft as Packers general manager, and he had a private conversation with his boss, then Packers president Bob Harlan.

      “Every year, just before he’d make the No. 1 draft choice, he would always call me out of the room,” recalled Harlan during a recent interview. “And he would tell me who he was going to take and why. And I can still remember our conversation about Aaron Rodgers. He said, ‘I can’t believe the guy has fallen this far, but he’s there. We may catch some heat, because with Brett (Favre) here we’re taking a quarterback.’ But he said, ‘He’s the best player on the board and I’m going to take him.’”

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  12. toolkien says:

    We can savor the luck of having two of the best QB’s back to back, but it stands that the two Super Bowl seasons the Packers had the two best DEFENSES they’ve had, statistically, since the Lombardi Era. I’m not saying that an offense first formula can’t work (Indianapolis and New Orleans have shown that fact in the last ten years or so), but for the Packers’ ultimate successes over the last 20+ years just happened to have a lot to do with the defenses they had on hand those years.

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