Remember when the Green Bay Packers were legitimately thought of as elite and the next NFL dynasty? All the ingredients were there: A great quarterback. Talented receivers. Young defenders on the rise. A Super Bowl win. Playoff chops. A smart coaching staff and front office.
Then the Giants and 49ers manhandled the Packers in playoff losses and all that dynasty talk seems like so long ago.
Forget dynasty. Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette says the Packers are no longer even an elite team.
Vandermause gets a little carried away early in the column when he says that Colin Kapernick is now a more feared player than Aaron Rodgers (ridiculous). But for the most part, I see where Vandermause is going. He thinks the 49ers have a lot more talent than the Packers. After watching these two teams play each other twice this season, it’s hard to argue with him.
Can a team fall from potential dynasty to less-than-elite in about one year? Sure, these last two playoff losses sting, but do they really mean the Packers are no longer elite? I can see both sides of the argument:
Packers are no longer elite
- Did you watch the game on Saturday? There is no way to use the words “elite” and “Packers” in the same sentence after that ass whooping.
- That’s two straight playoff losses where the Packers were dominated by a bigger, stronger and more physical team. Elite teams don’t get pushed around like that.
- The Packers struggled against other good to great teams this season. The 49ers, Seahawks, Giants, Vikings and Colts all beat Green Bay. Houston, and maybe one of the Chicago games, were their only signature types of wins.
- The Packers lack toughness and are not able to match other team’s physically. Teams with offensive lines that are big and mean and feature defenders that are able to tackle the Packers’ receivers can contain Rodgers and push the Packers’ defense around.
- The scoreboard and the standings don’t lie. A team that fails to reach its conference championship game two straight seasons cannot be considered elite.
The Packers are still elite
- Aaron Rodgers is the Packers quarterback. Enough said.
- The Packers ran into a buzzsaw two straight seasons. The Giants got hot at the right time and marched all the way to the Super Bowl. Kapernick had the game of his life and carried the 49ers to victory.
- The Packers went 11-5 and won a playoff game with their last three first-round picks on injured reserve. All three should return next season and contribute. Losing Desmond Bishop and Cedric Benson also reduced the Packers’ toughness.
- This is still a young team. Look at all the defensive players that now have a year under their belt and will hopefully keep getting better.
- All that stuff I wrote in the opening paragraph is still true. The Packers have a great QB, smart front office, talented WRs, etc.
- Did I mention this team still has Aaron Rodgers at quarterback?
I suppose I should answer the question I posed in the headline. No, I don’t think the Packers are elite. Results, not potential, determines if you’re elite. The end result for the Packers the last two seasons has been less than elite.
That said, who cares? Elite is a label. It’s just a word. Sure, it’s fun to debate, but who cares?
In today’s NFL, all you can ask for is a team that is built to be successful over the long haul and be one of the handful of teams that has a shot come playoff time. Of that handful of teams, a few will emerge as elite. Every now and then one will emerge as a dynasty.
The Packers definitely remain in the handful teams that have a shot every season. Can they rise up and once again be elite? I believe they can. We shall see.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .