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Packers Season Ends With a Question Mark – Part I

A sad day in Packer land

As the final kick sailed through on Sunday night, Packer fans around the world were left scratching their heads wondering what had just happened. A season that started out as a question mark has concluded in much the same way.

With the ‘football gods’ apparently watching over them, the Packers were ushered into home field advantage for the NFC Championship through the back door and looked to put an end to the improbable 9 game road winning streak by which the NY Giants had resurrected their season to reach the final Conference game of the year. Then, just when it looked as though the ‘gods’ had forsaken them, the second of two missed field goals and a coin flip gave fans new hope that the Super Bowl was within reach. As we all know, that hope was crushed by yet another game ending interception and the rest as they say is history.

It should be easy enough to swallow the bitter pill of a loss such as this and look forward to the bright future which the Packers undoubtedly have, but as part of the greatest fan base in professional sports, PackerNation, we are compelled to examine what we just witnessed and how it came to such a tragic end.

The question of game plan is immediately brought to the forefront. Fresh off of a record setting performance in his first playoff appearance, Ryan Grant was expected to be a big contributor to the success of Green Bay on Sunday night. With the weather favoring a run heavy attack, the Packers failed to make use of the new found balance that had given them the look of a team to be reckoned with. Grant was never allowed to find a rhythm, finishing with a scant 13 carries and 29 yards for the game.

Along the same vein, the passing attack was just as confusing. The one obvious bright spot was Donald Driver, whose 141 receiving yards and 90 yd. TD reception brought life to an otherwise dismal offensive performance. What comes to mind is, what happened to the rest of the receivers? In several key situations when advancing the ball was paramount, passes were thrown behind the line of scrimmage to a stationary receiver, with little or no chance of gaining the necessary 1st down yardage. Result? 1- 10 third down conversions.

Given that fact one has to ask the question, WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING? If the thought process was to exploit a depleted secondary to open up the run game, that was clearly not adhered to. If the plan was to forget the run and let the efficient short passing game that garnered Favre one of the best statistical years of his career take them to the promised land, that plan was also not put into use. If the plan was to completely confuse the Giants (and GB fans) by coming out with no rhyme or reason to the way in which they would attack, well fellas….mission accomplished.

The offensive line, playing the defense that led the league in sacks, didn’t allow one; yet the same line that provided Grant with the kind of gaps that properly executed zone blocking can open up seemed to have forgotten the execution part of that equation. Some leeway should, however, be granted because they were also not allowed the chance to find a ‘rhythm’ given the limited number of run plays called. So what we all found out is if you are going to abandon the rushing game AND the short rhythm passing game that produced the highest total of ‘yards after catch’ in the league, what are you left with?

A couple of boxes of NFC Champion hats that will never get worn, a couple of cases of champagne whose corks will not be popped, and a nation of fans left wondering “how did this dream season turn into such a nightmare?”

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