The Burning Debate: Was the Green Bay Packers Season a Success or Failure?

The loud dull thud you heard was the sound of the Green Bay Packers promising season coming to an abrupt and disappointing end.

When the Green Bay Packers Players left the locker room this week many of them were still in shock that their season was over and they were headed home. To a man they had expected to be training this week for the Super Bowl; one more game to stake their claim to the World Championship. The sentiment was they were the better team in Seattle but the better team doesn’t always win.

The Packers came within one game of the Super Bowl. Is that enough to declare this season a success? Or does the reality of losing the NFC Conference Championship Game, a game they once had well in hand, mean their season was a failure?

Success Is Relative

To twenty other teams, reaching the post season was an unfulfilled dream. So bad was their season that six of them dumped their coaching staffs including head coach and three more went so far as to jettison their General Manager as well.

One team, the Broncos, determined even that a 12 win season and post season play wasn’t good enough and head coach John Fox and staff were sent packing.

To most of these teams the season was a write off.  Next year cannot come soon enough. The future will be brighter now that big changes have been made.

For the other twelve franchises the reward was post season play. In the NFL that is a big deal and it should be. To date ten teams, including the Green Bay Packers, have been sent home. Two remain. Only one will be World Champs and a chance at immortality.

Better to Have Been Blown Out

A day after the gut-wrenching 28-22 overtime loss several Packers players were cleaning out their lockers and shared their thoughts.

To Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton close was not nearly good enough. “Anytime you feel like you should have won, it’s tough to get over,” an obviously dejected Sitton said. “And when it’s the last one, it’s very difficult to get over. You feel like it’s a waste of seven, eight months. What’s the point of getting this far? I’d have rather not even made the playoffs.”

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t have won the game,” Sitton went on to say. “Literally one of 10 plays you can pick that if we get it, we win the game. It’s frustrating when you should have won the game, and you’re the better team, and I thought we were the better team all day except for three minutes.”

“I’d rather not even make the playoffs” Sitton continued. “I’d rather have gotten blown out and known in the first quarter it was over.”

Several other players including backup quarterback Scott Tolzein echoed similar thoughts, expressing the obvious; that it is so tough to have all the pieces fall into place to even make it to the NFC Championship Game. It is not a given that the Packers will be back next year. Everything has to break your way and as this year has shown that doesn’t always happen.

A Different Packers Team Next Year

What transpires on the contract front, upcoming college draft and inevitable injures will shape the makeup of this team next season.

A total of sixteen free agents are staring the Packers in the face. Twelve are unrestricted players next year. Three more are restricted free agents and one is an exclusive rights free agent. It will be up to the Packers and the constraints of their league mandated salary cap to decide who they wish to target to return to the team.

Certainly play-maker Randall Cobb will be in their sights as will be right tackle Brian Bulaga, who finally had an outstanding injury-free year.

The team will be faced with decisions on both backup quarterbacks (Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzein), All-Pro fullback John Kuhn and special teams ace Jarrett Bush.

Does the team opt to lock up a still productive 31 year old corner in Tramon Williams or do they go with youth and the 25 year old Davon House? Or both?  Or neither?

Will injured NT BJ Raji get another shot, or have they seen enough positives from 27 year old Letroy Guion to allow Raji to walk?

Is A.J. Hawk productive enough to warrant a roster spot?

Time will tell.

Josh Sitton summed up the feeling of the Packers players when he said: “It sucks walking in and seeing everybody packing up their (expletive deleted) – stuff. We’ve been hanging out with each other for a while. There’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to be on the team — a lot of people we can’t pay. This team, I don’t think we can be this good for a while. It’s going to be tough, anyway.”

Perhaps time will temper Sitton’s disappointment and his feelings about the future of this team. Or perhaps he will adopt the phrase that former Packers General Manager hung on his heavily favored Packers who ultimately were defeated in Super Bowl XXXII. Asked to characterize his team after that loss, a distraught Wolf called them a “one year wonder, a fart in the wind”.

Let’s hope that is not the case with this Packers team.

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Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .

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  • Taryn Miller

    The Packers can lay claim to small steps of/toward success.But the goal is the Lombardi Trophy and anything less is a fail in regard to total picture.

  • mark gast

    This team has shown dramatic improvement over the course of the season and from the last 3 seasons so I say it is a success. Also a fourth straight division championship in a tough division is something to be proud of. Over the last 6 seasons the NFC North has produced two playoff teams in four of those years and another 10 win team that didn’t make it. That’s a much harder road that the Patriots have had.
    Look it up if you don’t believe me but every Packer champion going back to Lombardi days had a defense that was either first of second in points allowed. Seattle has such a defense. The Packer defense played over their heads for 3 quarters and the offense couldn’t take advantage of breaks against a tough Seattle defense. In the end, Seattle kept the Packers out of the end zone when even one more TD would have produced a win and the defense gave up 3 straight TDs. As much as I want to see Cobb back, if it comes down to money spent defense vs. offense, Ted Thompson better continue to upgrade the D if he wants another Lombardi Trophy.
    As for tough losses, the loss to the Giants following a 15 – 1 season was far harder for me to take. So was losing to the Giants in Favre’s last game when they had the home field advantage.

  • croatpackfan

    For me it is success! Packer played last 4 games with the main player injured. That injury removed one of the most lethal weapons of Aaron from him. His mobility and his possibility to extend plays. Only TD was scored when Aaron starts to move from the pocket. Packers were playing against 1st defense against run (2nd overall), and against 2nd d against run & 1st defense against pass (1st overall). They won first and lose in overtime at the 1st defense home. This is marvelous. I know that way how Packers lost the last game was devastating for the fans, but with calm head you can not say that achieve to be among 4 best teams is failure. I vote for success!

  • Erik Long

    Doesn’t feel like a success yet. Not when its only a few days after probably the biggest choke job in recent NFL history.

  • Razer

    We would be considered ingrates if we didn’t recognize that a 12-4 record and trip to the NFC Championship is success. We have far more success than those in our division and most teams around the league. What I feel awful about is the fact that this team did not reach its potential. We fell short by our own hand and we continue a pattern of falling short.

    Yes we are optimistic about next year but I can’t say that I can see a defense that will play championship ball, especially after we go through FA. We have seen 4 years of inconsistent and confused defense. The same can be said of Special Teams, which has been in disarray year-in and year-out. The offense has added a run game and performs well in the regular season but can’t get the job done when playing against hard-nosed defenses. Just not good enough.

    So yes, we learned a lot and yes we passed a lot of tests through the season but we failed the final. If you are okay with that, then why aren’t you celebrating?

    • Tundraboy

      I thought they did play championship ball, just not the last most important 15 minutes

      • Not even that. The final 7 minutes (including overtime). UGH.

      • Razer

        I agree – but when Seattle decided to show-up we played like a high school team. Marshawn Lynch made us look like all those other times when a RB had their way with us. Seattle’s mediocre WRs made our secondary miss from the 3 and 19 on. A championship defense makes mistakes but doesn’t revert back to “I-don’t-know-anything” mode.

        • ‘When Seattle decided to show up”

          Bull. We FORCED Seattle to play crappy. We EXPOSED Seattle’s offense for the one trick pony (really 2 guys) that it is.

          I don’t mean to sound cocky, but their pass D is elite. The rest of their team is “meh”.

          We choked. They didn’t beat us.

          • PissedoffinAZ

            Correct. They didn’t win – we lost. Frankly, Wilson sat there crying because he knew he was just shit lucky they won. I strongly suspect Brady and the Pats will do to them what we have done – blow then out of the water.

        • Tundraboy

          True but the 3-19 as I recall was classic 3 man rush (really only 2 actually rushing) prevent swiss cheese zone coverage.. Talk about open receivers that was disgusting to watch.

  • David

    If they were rebuilding than a success. Since they were one of the elite teams in the conference, and the NFL, must say a failure.

  • barutanseijin

    Call it what you want, but the season ended with a colossal choke. They have a lot to prove next year: does MM still have the courage or the smarts to win it all? It’s looking doubtful. Will his men believe in him? Why would they? Can #12 play consistently well in the post season or is he going to be another Peyton Manning? Can anyone hold MM or Slocumb to any responsibility? Plus you have the usual questions off whether they can improve and/or out compete their rivals.

    • Barut –

      I always respect what you say and usually agree with you. But here you’re IMO way off.

      1. “Can they out-compete their rivals?”
      – Really? In the division that’s laughable. There’s always 1 challenger. But we know who’s going to come out on top. So league-wide? Who are their rivals? The Giants from 07-11 are toast. The Niners from 11-13 ditto. The Seahawks are the guys right now, but it’s pretty clear they’ve got a LOT of very important pieces to pay and they have a LOT of holes on their roster themselves. More than us in both cases. They’ll descend very soon.

      2. “Can 12 play consistently in the post-season?” On its face, that is a valid question, but if you look at ANY of the great QBs, they all have mediocre numbers in the post season. I think if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that’s just the old “QB legacy” strawman. ARod has the highest QB rating of all time in the postseason. And he is still 1 game above .500. Can he get better? Sure. But the defenses in the playoffs are, by definition, better than the ones in the regular season. IMO that’s the big disparity. Look at Brady – 12-8. Over almost 20 years. Hardly impeccable. Brees is 6-5. Wilson’s W/L record in the post season is NOT due to him and it will even out. Big Ben’s is the same. Flacco sucks.

      3. “Can MM improve and Will his men believe in him.” This is going to come down to a meeting with ARod in the offseason I’d bet. And I’m sure it won’t be pleasant. If they don’t hash it out, MM will be the one to go – but I’d bet they do. Maybe TT steps in. I don’t know… This is a valid question.

      4. “Slocumb”. Man… I hope he’s gone. He sucks. But MM did stick with Crosby, and he’s been great the last 2 years…

  • Since ’61

    “There is no substitute for victory.”
    If this team had gone to Seattle and flat out got beat, even in a close game it would be a little easier to think of it as a successful season. Even losing on a bad call would have me feeling better about the season as a success. I would be disappointed and angry but that’s part of the game. However, the Packers beat themselves by committing suicide on the field. No excuse for that. This team improved in many areas during the season, OL, Safety, TE, even ILB and DL, although not great improved. But they still beat themselves too often again in 2014. Against the Lions in Detroit, against the Bills and of course in Seattle for about 4 minutes. Too many bad plays and stupid penalties in big games since the 2010 SB. Maybe it’s the result of losing Collins, Woodsen and Jenkins over the years. Maybe they help hold it together if there still here. We’ll never know. A good season, with some great games, great moments and great plays, but not a success. Thanks, Since ’61

    • David

      I agree 100% Since ’61

      Thanks, Dave

      • Since ’61

        Dave – that’s the great opportunity that we have with this site. We can share our thoughts about the Packers and enjoy the common bond that we share as Packer fans. As a long time, long distance Packer fan I’ve never had much opportunity to speak with Packers on a consistent basis. I’ve had opportunities on my trips to games at Lambeau but those are brief and never often enough. I don’t necessarily think of it as disagreeing rather it’s more like we come at some issues from different view points. All are valid and that’s what is great about sharing our thoughts and comments. I always enjoy your posts and I respect your point of view. The bottom line is that we both want the same results for the Packers. Unfortunately we didn’t achieve that result this season. But, we’ll be back. Thanks, Since ’61

  • This was the 2nd best team under MM. It was a better team than the 07 team. And the offense was better than the 10 team.

    As tempting as it is to freak out and call for everyone to be fired, I don’t think you can call this season a total fail. For the talent level of the team, they fell short for sure. But I’ve looked over the rosters and salary cap structures of most of the 32 franchises going into next year. You cannot convince me that any of them will be favored to beat GB anywhere.

    Making the NFC CG is an accomplishment. And we were so close, and the loss so agonizing, that I’d bet the team comes back raring to go next year.

    Slocumb needs to go. The rest of the staff has done well. I’d personally like MM to look into hiring a playcalling OC – but that’s not going to happen. 🙁

    We are the team to beat next year. We need 2 pieces: DT and ILB (or OLB if CM3 stays inside). More depth in the DL would be good to groom. Everywhere else is set. The salary cap is in good shape.

    This team is going to wreck the league next year. They’re going to come back angry.

    • Tundraboy

      Now we’re talking. While that’s how I thought they would rebound in the past, this is different. I think they too see that unlike other years, they have more talent now, went further, and they know exactly what they just missed.

    • Matts

      This exactly. They smelled blood this year and did nothing about it. Next year, feeding frenzy!

      • PissedoffinAZ

        I like your blood lust, Matts! Lets all put little sharks on our Packer hats. Hungry Hungry Sharkies!

  • Tundraboy

    Hard to say when it ends like that, but considering, Rodgers was hurt for 4 games, and we nearly made it to the big one, with the team we have bodes well for next year. Linsley, Clinton Dix, Adams, and Rodgers proved themselves over a full season and,that will serve us well. Time to get the ILB and DE we need and to cut out the obvious dead wood. Far less holes to fix this off-season so developmentally it was successful. We now have a great OL.

    • Razer

      When we can run the ball to the right, then we will have a great O-line

      • That’s like saying “When we can pass the ball to our 4th WR option regardless of who is guarding him, then we’ll be a good passing offense.”

        The other guys get paid too. For what the OL is asked to do – I’ll take them over every Packer OL in the past 10 years and all but maybe 1 or 2 OLs in the NFL in the past 5.

  • “Either you’re first or you’re last” -Some guy

  • Seahawks for Life

    Packers Loose to superior Team, City, and a superior coach.They played with raw emotion and energy and the Pack was flat come the 4th.

    Anyway who cares about the Packers outside of Green Bay? Its barely a city. Beast Mode was just too much for a Packers D that over achieved in the first half. I think if the Packers do not win another SB in two years they will be riding the pine behind teams getting better Minnesota, Detroit, and Chicago under a new coach. Beware Pack your reign on the Central will be over soon.

    Seahawks are my team and don’t worry they will get the SB so at least you can say you lost to a winner. By the by you were lucky to be in Seattle anyway Dallas had that game that the Officals gave you so be happy you even got to step on our feild.

    • marpag

      Thanks. Have a pleasant day.

    • Razer

      I wonder what kind of person goes to another fan-base site and gloats. You don’t feel good enough about your victory that you need to come and kick others. Makes you feel better, eh. I like the vote for yourself. First class all the way.

      • Tundraboy

        Someone who like his team is new to this winning thing.

      • Seahawks for Life

        Seeing the most arrogant fans on the Planet suffer is more than enough. One loss and everyone needs to be fired, I even saw a writer say Rodgers traded. Over react much? As I know there would be 25 plus teams after your QB (Mine excluded as Wilson younger and a perfect playoff record).

        Enjoy your slide to mediocrity.

        LOB I’m out.

        • Razer

          You forgot your ‘Like’

        • PissedoffinAZ

          From the guys whose team looked like SHIT for 57 minutes. After your demeaning loss to New England next week, I suspect we will not be hearing from you again.

    • Savage57

      Al would boot me off the site if I lit you up like I want to.

      Only the hugest, most flaccid douche-nozzle up-votes his own shit.

      Seahawks for Life? That would make you two.

    • Big T

      Would it be appropriate to call him an assclown?

  • Thegreatreynoldo

    1 play (one of maybe 15 plays) away from the Super Bowl is a successful season. Great is winning the SB, excellent is being in the SB. So, IMO this was a successful season.

    In addition, this was a team with good talent, but not overwhelming talent. On offense, they were another receiving threat from being excellent. On defense, they were a below average at one DE spot, maybe NT, ILB (both depending on when during the season), good at one OLB (part-timers CMIII and Peppers = one -good- spot), and average at the other OLB spot, and were above average at the 2 safety spots and the 2 CB spots, and had a good FG kicker. Go Pack.

  • Sven

    The season was a success, though not as successful as hoped and aimed for, it was still a success. I feel lucky to be a fan of such a great organization.

    Go Pack!

  • SchenySchen

    Oddly enough, I think the answer to that question will be answered next season. If the Packers come out hungry, aggressive and playing like they are on a mission next season, I will consider this season a success because they will have learned something about themselves and have a chip on their shoulder. If they stumble out of the blocks or look disinterested, then I think this last loss of this season will be viewed as a crushing death knell and I will view this season as a failure. I think it will be the former and I expect a lot of growth from our 2nd year players. GoPack!

  • marpag

    Hey, Superbowls are hard to win. If it weren’t that way, no one would care about them. A team will often fail even when it’s good, but no team will ever succeed even though it sucks. The trick in the NFL seems to be, “Give yourself as many legitimate shots as you possibly can. Be in contention every year. Get into the tournament, and may the best team win.”

    We all know that the football bounces in funny ways, literally and figuratively. One year, everything falls into place for you. The next year you just get screwed. But consistent winning is NOT at all about luck. Good teams are good because they always find a way to stick around to the end. When the ball does bounce their way, at least they’ll have a shot to grab it.

    When was the last time Jacksonville even had a shot?

    Both Seattle and New England are in the Superbowl because they are damn good teams. But for Green Bay to come within an overtime period of advancing to the Superbowl can hardly be called a failure. Frankly, that’s just dumb. They were among the last four standing. They had a legitimate shot, and no one would have been shocked if they had won. If you can do that every year, you would be the best team in history, and you’d need to grow more fingers for your rings.

    • PissedoffinAZ

      Indeed, many who thought we didn’t have a chance against Seattle were shocked, and many of them were as upset as Packer fans with the ultimate GB loss. Countless people came up to us and said as much after the game.

  • Savage57

    About full up with the ‘we could be fans of other teams’ argument. Jeff hit it on the head when he said, ‘success is relative’. Crappy teams rejoice at qualifying for the playoffs. Mediocre teams celebrate a playoff win. Legendary teams that hail from places that carry the moniker “Titletown” celebrate championships.

    Everything that falls short of that can be called enjoyable, memorable, entertaining, but it cannot and should not be called ‘success’. Doing that would denigrate and dilute the Championships already claimed by this team and make you better suited to go root for the Vikings.

    • Seahawks for Life

      Title town? oh you must be talking about New England and Seattle got ya :). Or if you want the actual list Pittsburgh has the most followed by San Fran and Dallas. Packers at 4 so not really in the lead there are ya.

      • Savage57

        Listen up, shitbag. The NFL didn’t become relevant in the last 2 years. That collection of clowns you decided to cheer for once you heard all the noise coming from that shithole you call a stadium, has. Have never heard anyone ever say that seeing a game in Cesspool-Link is a bucket list activity.

        13>1 says all that needs to be said on this subject.

        Your Seahawks are the latest. The Packers are the greatest.

        • PissedoffinAZ

          And your Seaslugs are going to be crying for real in Glendale. One Superbowl and you think your team is in the league of the Packers, Steelers, or Pats?
          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Archie

    I agree with Sitton. Anything that ends that poorly constitutes failure. It tells us that if we get in that situation ever again, the same HC will resort to the same ball-less calls so why be a fan of a team led by such a HC?