This is a Very Likable Packers Team

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DuJuan Harris
DuJuan Harris is one of the players that makes this a very likable Packers team.

As I was watching the Packers 55-7 win over the Titans on Sunday, I realized that this is the most likable Packers team I’ve seen in a long time.

Of course, it’s the Packers. I’ll like the Packers no matter what. You could make Bernie Maddoff the quarterback and Dick Cheney head coach and I’d still bleed green and gold.

But this team is just really likable. Every category of likability is covered.

There’s Aaron Rodgers, the golden-boy MVP quarterback. Super talented, open with fans, funny, intense, exciting to watch, confident…I could go on and on…

There’s Mike McCarthy, the coach who seems to have a knack for guiding his teams through injury and adversity. McCarthy also isn’t one of those annoying fake tough guy, look-at-me kind of coaches (see: Schwatz, Jim and Carroll, Pete). He also doesn’t completely blow off the media, and every now and then gives us great lines like “We’re nobody’s underdog,” or “Self-pity is a waste of time, it’s a wasted emotion.”

There’s a young secondary that keeps getting better. Every likable team needs players that people do not know much about, but play so well that people are forced to care as the season progresses. That’s what’s happening with Casey Hayward, Jerron McMillian, Sam Shields and M.D. Jennings.

There’s Jermichael Finley and Mike Neal. Even likable teams need guys that fans can yell at incoherently and then cheer for when they make a good play. That’s Finley for sure. Neal has also received his share of scorn, but has played well lately. Consider guys like Finley and Neal the team punching bags. When Packers fans need to let off some steam, yelling about these two usually does the trick.

There’s James Jones. Every likable team needs a guy that went from punching bag to breakout player.

There’s Charles Woodson and Donald Driver. Yeah, their contributions have been minimal, but every likable team needs a veteran or two past his prime to pull for. I think most Packers fans understand that Driver and Woodson likely won’t contribute much the rest of the way, but deep down, we’re all hoping to see them get out there and have one last moment of glory.

There’s Clay Matthews. Because he does stuff like this.

There’s Fail Mary. Nobody liked Fail Mary. Even non-Packers fans. But stupid crap like that helps you rally around a team and pull hard for a chance to make up for it.

There’s fat guys. B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett are always fun to watch.

There’s a guy named Don Barclay.

There’s Ryan Grant making a comeback and DuJuan Harris coming out of nowhere.

I could go on and on…

I’ll stop now because I’m getting a little carried away. I just really like this team.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam\\\'s writing on the Packers here.

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  • packett

    and…a team up against adversity. Gotta like a team that digs deep into the depth chart…and asks guys to step up and play, and expect them to.

    Also, while it drove me crazy…a stubborn head coach persisted with an ineffective run game for most of the season this year basically as a change-up. While it didn’t yield much…it started to instill a determination in the O-line (also a punching bag for much of the season).

    And what about a stubborn coach who is determined to back a kicker beyond what any other reasonable coach would have done. Have to admire that in a way.

    anyone know the severity of injury to Cobb?

    • marpag

      MRI shows no damage to Cobb’s ankle. Packers don’t think it’s serious.

      • marpag

        Sorry… X-RAY, not MRI

        • jt

          You cannot assess sprain with X ray. So either they don’t know or they would have done MRI to know.

          • marpag

            I never said that you could assess a sprain with an x-ray. I’m aware of the fact than an x-ray will only reveal breaks or fractures.

            What I did say, however, is entirely true. I said that the Packers took an x-ray and it did not reveal any damage to the ankle. I also said that the Packers do not believe that the injury is serious.

            An MRI was scheduled for today (Monday).

  • GBPDAN

    And theres J Nelson, Kuhn, Jennings, Saturday, Bulaga, Sitton, Lang…guys you just want to root for

    • Lucas

      Even the AFC commentators noted that “Kuuuuuhn” is yelled by the knowledgeable stadium (and us at home) BEFORE he gets the ball.
      That honor used to be held by George Koonce.
      Every team needs one.

    • Stu Jenkins

      lol someone likes white people.

  • GBPDAN

    And lets dont forget about Cobb, one of my favorite Packers

  • marpag

    I’ve never seen Neal as a punching bag. I see him as a guy who’s had a very unfortunate run of injuries, whose career could have crapped out because of them, and whose surprisingly helpful contributions of late just might be the key to a Superbowl run.

    A little pressure opposite CM could go a very long way against high-power playoff offenses.

    • Adam Czech

      Neither have I. But I think others wrote Neal off a while ago.

    • Gary

      I think as soon as Moses learns how to break away from lineman who are holding him he will be that guy.

  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    I’d really like to see the Packers do more of what they did yesterday. That shorter quick passing game with those receivers is deadly. They run and pass out of same formations and Rodgers not getting beat to hell out there. The long home runs are nice but keeping Rodgers upright and still scoring points is better. GO PACK GO!

    • Adam Czech

      It’s fairly easy to pitch and catch when the other team gives up.

  • Ron LC

    If Neal continues to stay injury free, he could be the real surprise during the playoffs. He is playing with reckless abandon and a speed that I haven’t seen since KGB. As a doubter in the past, I’m beginning to see why they are still trying to develop him. There is a shole lot of talent in him that we have yet to see. Keep it up Mike. The team needs you on that line.

  • Cyhawk

    Yes, but would they still be likeable if David Axelrod was their head coach :)

    • Adam Czech

      Oh man. That might be too much!

  • Slim11

    This is definitely a very likeable team and is capable of running the table in the playoffs.

    I am most impressed with the secondary. They will be even more effective with CM3 providing an effective pass rush. After the improved play in the secondary, I like the play of Brad Jones at ILB. He’s been a huge surprise. Mike Neal kept his head up and is clearly improved this season.

    Mason Crosby has a little way to go before I feel comfortable with him again. I was a kicker in high school and college. I understand the slump he’s going through and hope he’s pulling out it now.

  • Cyhawk

    Of course, they would be hilarious to watch if Joe Biden was their head coach?

    • Adam Czech

      The press conferences would be more entertaining than the games.

  • PatMc

    What about TT. He has accumulated the team we are watching. Better yet, with all the adversity he has a surprise draft next year already on the team: THREE first rounds (Sherrod, Bulaga, Perry), Two starting ILB (Bishop, DJ Smith), Top 20 RB in Cedric, Another potential 1st RND Tackle in Datko, two potential RB (Saine & White), Two guards (Shea & Allard), DB(Merrill, Nixon & Powell), TE Quarless & Bostick, and a Safety that will surprise the NFL next year in Sean Richardson. Just my humble opinion but add the 7 plus picks and the future is bright. WOW – TT I’m really pleased to meet ya!

    • Tarynfor12

      But remember…as many as we have,as many as we draft,just as many must be let go.

      • PatMc

        Agree with you Tarynfor12.

        I only point out that going into next year the begining roster (80) looking great. Better than I’ve seen in 30 years

        TT will have options to make a few trades: Maybe Finley, Jennings or ??

        The final 53 will be loaded with very talented football players.

        • Lucas

          Finley for a 3rd rounder or is that too rich? Combined with the 4th rounder compensatory for Flynn…and the 32nd in each round…

  • Ron LC

    GB has to pay for the team out of its direct revenues. Regardless of the cap they can’t afford to pay more than they take in. As with all non-profits they can’t borrow to cover current operating expenses. This is not true for the big money guys that are some of the owners. With the absolutely necessary signings of AR, Raji, CM3, and either Jennings or Finley some of the old vets and a few of the guys whose salaries are inching up into the high end of the range will have to go. The ability of TT and MM to keep that second tier of player ready to play is critical. As a result, we’ll never see the likes of guys who will be with the team forever, with few exceptions.

    We’re lucky we’ve got a management team that has done it better than anyone else. Go Pack!

    • marpag

      Agreed, Ron. I’d add one thing: The more I think about it, the more I’m bracing myself for the possibility that Finley AND Jennings will be gone. In fact, if I were TT, I think that’s what I’d do.

      If you take all your “Finley money” and give it to Jennings, that still leaves you with the question of how you will resign Rodgers, Matthews and Raji.

      In my mind, Jennings’ injury has shown several things: 1) James Jones is absolutely, 100%, rock-solid legit – and I just love saying that because I’ve always supported the guy, 2) Cobb is probably already more explosive than Jennings ever was, and 3) Nelson is the perfect complimentary deep-threat who also happens to come at a bargain basement price. And how many times are you going to run 4 and 5 wide sets?

      So I respect other opinions, but if it were me, I’d probably let Finley AND Jennings go.

      • David

        Finley, Jennings (team has shown they can win without him) and Woodson go. That’s a lot of $$$ freed up.

        Of the 3… the most valuable is Finley.

        • PatMc

          I expect Jennings, Finley, Lang and maybe Jordy to be on trade block. An extra 2 and/or 3rd round this year will pay dividends for years to come. There will be some very talented young players there.

          TT has the gunpowder to add a few extra high picks. The lower 4,5 & 6 are tradable this year, IMHO.

          • marpag

            There is absolutely, positively no way that Lang or Nelson will be traded. Why would they be?? Zero chance.

            And the only way Jennings gets traded is if they tag him first.

            • PatMc

              Lang is due $5,000,000 and has trade value.

              Jordy is getting older and has been hampered with leg cramps. His salary is “Cheaper” but still up there. KC might give up a 2nd and another pick to get the home state here.

              Jennings has said he doesn’t want to be tagged so if he is he might land in Miami because he is pissed off.

              In this day and age, the salary cap rules and CM3, Raji and oh yeah (ARod) have contracts to work out.

              If it comes down to CM3 or Lang I think lang is a goner? I’m just being real here folks. Of course I don’t know what will happen until next year.

              • marpag

                Like I said, I can respect alternate opinions, but personally I don’t agree. I don’t think all of your assumptions are correct, either.

                As for Lang, his cap number will be 3.1 million in 2013, not 5 million (1.5 million salary and roster bonus, 1.1 million pro-rated signing bonus, 500,000 workout and roster bonus). That’s a bargain. Also, the Packers just signed him to an extension FOUR MONTHS ago, which would seem to make a trade highly unlikely.

                As for Jennings, the Packers will not have him under contract after the season is over. Obviously, you cannot trade the rights to a player if you do not have that player under contract. Therefore, the only way that the Packers could possibly trade him is if they tagged him first, or signed him in some other way.

                As for Nelson, he’s 27 – hardly “older” – and signed through the end of 2014 to an absolute steal of a contract averaging 3.5 million a year. Based on average salary, 36 wide receivers are paid more than Nelson. Why trade that??

                If you want to “be real”, you should admit that player trades just never happen anymore, and they won’t happen here. In fact, the only time players seem to get traded nowadays is when a smart GM dupes a stupid GM into trading for a backup quarterback/clipboard holder – like Brett Favre or Kevin Kolb.

              • Oppy

                Marpag is pretty much on the money with his assessment.

                Lang just got his contract, is young, is still on the upswing, and is very affordable.

                Jennings isn’t trade-able after the season, he’s a FA.

                Jordy is in a similar boat to Lang. He’s one of the best deep threat WRs in the league, he’s got years left on his legs, and he’s in a very Packers-favorable contract.

                I expect Jennings to walk, Lang and Jordy aren’t going anywhere.

                Finley is the only player you’ve listed that I believe has the potential to trade- and that would only be if he continues to impress the rest of the season, otherwise nobody will be a willing trade partner. Honestly, I could see the Packers attempting to trade Finley, letting him walk, or re-negotiating his contract to spread the money out another 3 years, dependent on how he plays through the playoffs.

                All the money the Packers need for the core players due extensions will come from the walking of Jennings, the release of Charles Woodson and Donald Driver, and the potential release of Finley.

                People also need to remember, there are plenty of ways to stretch the money on contracts over many years. Yes, the Packers like to front-load contracts, but they have tricks to defer the large payouts for a season or over many seasons if need be. The Packers aren’t in as big of a bind as many would have us believe. Also, we have many very team-minded players who see the big picture and may understand that taking a huge personal payout up front may affect the ability for the Packers to field a winning TEAM around them..

            • Ron LC

              Well said Oppy

              • PatMc

                Wow, tough crowd on Christmas. I’ve been away for the week otherwise would have responded sooner.

                1) Marpag is much more knowledgable about the contracts than I.

                2) I was agreeing with Ron & Marpag about Finley AND Jennings. I also believe Driver and Woodson need to go.

                3) if Money isn’t a problem keep Finley.

                4. My point wasn’t that TT will trade anyone (not likely as pointed out by Marpag) but for the first time in 30 years – The Packers have so much depth, and draft picks they will have the opportunity (if they want to) to make a move before and during the draft.

                It will need to make sense to TT & MM in order to pull the trigger (which again is not likely)

          • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

            There s not a chance in hell that Nelson would be traded. He’s one the most underpaid receivers in the NFL. I actually felt bad for him after last year because Ted had signed to a very friendly(For the Packers)deal. Lang was just signed so that doesn’t make much sense. He can play anywhere on the line so he’s a very flexible player to have. He’s not paid much compared to a lot of guards out there so he’s not going anywhere.

      • Ron LC

        Yeah – Should have said and/or to the Jennings/Finley statement

      • Bob W.

        I do agree that Finley needs to go. I would like to see Jennings stay , this season has shown that we can win without him maybe he would take less money to stay for another ring or two. I do believe Cobb is the future for the organization, and should look into .locking him in for. the long term Take him out of special teams and concentrate on pure offense. I know AR Raji and CM have to be signed and and AR And CM both deserve top salary. Just hoping they might take a page from Peyton when he was at the colts, and give back a little by restructuring to save more money against the cap so they could get more players O-line ,pass rush and consistant TE would be nice

    • Elle

      Well, they can pay for it with cash on hand as well, from past revenue.

      • Bubbaloo

        RonLC,
        As one of the most profitable teams in the league, and one of the Top 10 valued sports franchises in the US, I strongly doubt the Packers would have any problem borrowing money if they need to, which of course, they don’t! They’re solid as a rock.

      • Ken Allen

        Uhhhhhhhh correct me if I’m wrong .. but isn’t that what the CAP is all about?

  • FireMMNow

    I said it ten weeks ago and i will stay say it. I have more confidence in this team than I did last years team. The Titans are a bad team, but last years team would have given up a lot more than seven points. The athleticism on defense is starting to show.

    • Bubbaloo

      Agreed, it was impossible to have any confidence in that defense last year. You could just feel something bad on the horizon!

  • Russell

    Is it me, or has anyone else noticed that Jennings and AR’s timing is off? Has Jennings lost a 1/2 step or or is he not at 100%?

    • FireMMNow

      if he lost a step and is still beating corners by two yards like he did on the one missed TD, then he is still okay. Rodgers just missed him. It was rodgers fault, not jennings. It will come.

    • David

      Rodgers timing is off.

      He’s been missing Cobb by a half a yard for TD’s the last 3 games.

      Before that…he was missing Nelson on most of the deep routes.

  • jt

    MM is the punching bag when they lose but is a god when they win. I like this team except for Finley. Crosby is annoying but he’s got a good attitude. Finley is just plain trouble.

  • Sally Field

    They like me! They really like me!!

  • toolkien

    I guess teams with the best W/L over an ~4 year period, regular and post season, without having a lot of distracting ME-type players tend to be pretty likable. Here’s to them being downright enchanting for the next 4.