One of my biggest pet peeves in the offseason is when fans of opposing teams (most notably Bears and Viking fans) complain stating the national media loves the Packers. The rant goes that the Packers are always in the limelight and always overrated. There are many reasons that are put forward for this, a large and nationwide fan base, the unique situation of the city and ownership that makes a good story, the history, blah blah blah. In fact we've seen an even more virulent form of this the last couple weeks (most notably from Viking fans) stating that the refs are giving all the breaks to the Packers. But is all this true?That's what I've been pondering these past few weeks. In these past few weeks the Packers have won three big games. The won in a tight and emotional game against a desperate Vikings team. Really winning that game was huge beyond description for Rodgers, McCarthy, and the organization as a whole. It helps put what's in the past in the past. It also helps us in the division, which after the fiasco in Chicago, is looking to be a tight race.
This hard, emotional win was followed up by shutting down one of the best running games of the year and snapping the five game winning streak of what some considered the best team in football. If that wasn't good enough for a nice story, the Packers were on the road for that one, beat up, and our opponent was coming off a nice restful bye. The Packers beat them the way so many talking heads would of never predicted...in a defensive struggle that comes down to who hit the hardest and who caused the most turnovers.
The winning streak continued by beating an underachieving Cowboys team that needed to win one for their beloved coach. This game had trap game written all over it. The Packers were about to go into a bye. Dallas was coming off a beat down and needed to bounce back. The Pack could start believing they were better than what they were and just expect to turn it on like last year....but that didn't happen. Instead the team put together a fine performance and just beat down the Cowboys in a way that had not been done in years.
Now if the media really loves to love them some Packers they would snap at this story right? We would be constantly hearing about how the Packers are turning it around and every talking head would fawn over the Pack. It would be sickening and once again these naysayers could point out how overrated the Packers and their cheese loving fans are. Or maybe not a national story, but the Packers would at least be the biggest story coming out of their division. I mean come on, they are winning it now, so there should be something to talk about....right?
Instead of seizing upon the storyline of overcoming Farve and taking another step out of his shadow more media attention focused on him hobbling out of Lambeau and began a will he won't he saga that carried through the week. That and blown calls were the storylines taken out of that game.
With the Jets the storyline became: What's wrong with the Jets? Sure some lip service was paid to how great the defense was, but really the focus was how bad the Jets receivers were. How much Sanchez was off. How the Jets weren't focused.
Finally the Cowboy game. The offense finally clicked. The defense completely shut down the Cowboys (with the exception of Dez Bryant who is a beast). The Packers literally scored a touchdown in all three parts of the game. Is there some respect given out as a result? Not really. Again the storyline shifts to how the Cowboys have collasped. How Wade is getting canned. We scored more points than any other team this week, but it's the Giants who get the buzz and the Packers become more of an after thought.
Now I don't mean to sound like I'm bitching about any of this, rather I want to point something out. We are boring. The Packers don't make splashy trades. We don't sign big free agents. Don't make many non-winning related headlines. This is probably a good thing since we all know the Packers play the worst when they think the are great. But still,
Really the major reason why we are so boring is because we have taken on the personality of our leadership. Ted Thomson is a great evaluator of talent and might be one of the most boring people alive. What few details I come across on his life makes me believe the dude just eats sleeps breathes his job. Perhaps the most interesting thing about him is that he doesn't give a crap about what you(the fans and media) think or what moves you think need to be done. He does what he does, and if it doesn't work there always next year.
We follow that up with Mike McCarthy. Let's just say that McCarthy is no Rex Ryan. McCarthy is an average to above average coach who does his best work in the offseason and training camp teaching the game to his players. You know, that time of the year when the cameras aren't rolling and teams like the Redskins are trying to buy a Super Bowl? The real telling thing about him for me came back in '08 when the Packers decided to ride the suck train. What always struck me about that team was the fact they didn't give up. They still fought hard to try and beat Chicago and Houston even though the season was all but done. They still played a great game against Detroit to not be the only team that lost to them that year. That's when I bought into MM and figured that we had something special going. See, too often teams in those situations will mail it in (see the Vikings for the first 55 minutes on Sunday and Dallas for every game since the second half of the Giants game). McCarthy was able to keep his team together and focused and it's paid off since. So yeah, he's not going to be too exciting to watch when there are larger than life personalities like Ryan, or idiots running franchises into the ground like some other coaches out there.
So the next time you come across an arrogant rival talking bout how the media over hypes the Packers remember this moment and my rant. Remember that during this three game stretch that has probably turned our season around, the Packers were little more than a footnote to the larger stories brewing in the NFL.
And why? Because we are just too boring.