Are the Green Bay Packers Still Elite? All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Are the Packers still elite?

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?

Enough already…
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 .


52 thoughts on “Are the Green Bay Packers Still Elite?

  1. First, what is the definition of elite that we are aspiring to?

    Second, what is the definition of dynasty that we are trying to attain?

    How many teams can say that they have been in the playoffs 14 times in the past 18 years? How many teams even in their down years are still a force to be reckoned with?

    The dynasties of the past are going to be just that, of the past. It is not very likely at all in this age of parity for one team to dominate absolutely anymore– 60’s Packers, Cowboys, Steelers, 49ers. Instead, what we see are teams like the Patriots and the Packers consistently having a winning record and going to the playoffs. These are the new definition of dynasty and elite.

    1. I don’t know how to exactly define elite. That’s why I came up with my who cares answer at the end. That’s probably a cop out, but whatever.

      The Packers have a legit shot to win it all every season. That’s about all you can ask for. I guess I’m a results guy, and the results the last two seasons have not been elite. Doesn’t mean the Packers are bad or about to fall off a cliff, but elite? Eh….

      On paper, this team is for sure elite. But I have a hard time labeling it elite after two consecutive ass kickings in the playoffs. Those weren’t just losses, those were ass kickings. Elite teams should be administering the ass kicking, not receiving it.

      1. Outside of Rodgers,Cobb,Jones,Mathrews,Nelson,Buluga, the paper is thin and not elite. Haywood, Burnett,Harris,House,are up and coming. Woodson, Driver,Jennings, Saturday thanks for the memories. Finlay, Tramon Williams, Jones, Hawk, Crosby,Zombo are poor performers and most have expensive contracts. Pickett, Shield, Walden,Lang,Detrick-Smith, CJ Wilson, Kuhn are ok. Sutton and Raji are not elite players like in the past.Newhouse,Neal,Starks,Green are backup. To early too call: Worthy,Mcmillan,Barlay,Perry,Boykins,Ross, Sherrod. There are current eigth team who have a better roster than the Packers. Due to AR and the Receiver play, we win 2 to 3 more games per year. Without that, we are a 8 and 8 team at best. I agree with Mike Vandermause. We simple to do have the talent. WE HAVE AN ELITE QB. WE HAD AN ELITE TEAM IN THE MID TO LATE 1990 Stand up and take notice, TT

        1. I think with another year under his belt, Haywood will become elite like Mathrews and Buluga.

      2. If the Packers are not elite, then who is?
        I would take the Patriots as elite, but after that I think Mike McCarthy’s and TT’s Packers have been the best team in the league for a while. Other teams are up and down. Like the Bears or the 49ers before last year. The Packers are always near the top when and where it counts.

        So what if the Packers were handled by the 49er so were the Patriots. The 49ers were handled by the Giants and the Seahawks, and could not beat St. Louis.

        The Packers win alot of games and did so this year with alot of injured players in key positions. Whats not elite about that.

        Not every elite team is in the super bowl every year, but they are in the playoffs.

  2. And I want to add, to win-it-all every time is just not in the cards. Too many teams that can get “hot” at the right time and take it away from anyone–“elite” or “dynasty”.

  3. To borrow from college hoops, the last 2 years the Packers were in the elite 8.

    I don’t want to overreact to this loss. The Packers were without quite a few of their preferred players. This game was still tied midway thru the 3rd quarter. Heck, if the kid throws another pick in the third quarter, who knows?

    This may be the second year that the Packers get bounced by the eventual SB winner…no shame in that.

    The Packers should still be favored to win the North next season, and with a few breaks, could still get back to the Super Bowl.

    1. Another way to look at this analogy:

      In D-1 college hoops, there are 346 teams. If you make the final eight, you’re in the top 2.3 percent. In the NFL, there are 32 teams. If you make the top eight, you’re in the top 25 percent.

      1. Point taken, the answer is clearly somewhere between 8 and 1.

        I’d say SF and NE would be clearly better.

        Other teams that may be?- Seattle, Atlanta, Denver?

        So that puts the Packers between #3 and #6. I guess you could argue the Giants were better..

        Even at the 6th or 7th best, i still think they are elite..maybe I’m too much of a homer..:)

  4. 4 straight playoff appearances; making the playoffs 5 out or 6 years; 3 division titles, one Super Bowl championship. I suspect that all of us can remember the days when 8 and 8 was a success. Of course they need to upgrade their lines on both sides of the ball but this is certainly a golden era for Packer fans. The only place that I see the 49ers, the Seahawks, and Giants as superior is on the line. While I love watching all of those receivers, I hope that that Packer commit more money to building a dominating line.
    Also, lets not forget, the Rams beat and tied the 49ers, the Vikings beat the 49ers, and the Packers beat both of those teams. If they stay healthy and up grade the lines then I expect them to contend for the Super Bowl next year.

  5. Interesting piece ….. I guess that you could say that the Packers over-achieved (given their horrendous injury list) in 2010; and that the expectations of 2011 and 2012 have been built on that over-achievement ……

    Personally, I felt from the beginning that the Pack would have to play at their absolute best to get a win in SF. Their are too many weak links in the current team – particularly on defence – to be described as “elite” …..

  6. Just like to make a couple of points here… Saying that when we get healthy we will be so much better— I don’t see that scenario. After major injuries you are never the same unless you are Adrian Peterson. Anyone here really think that Desmond bishop will be the same beast after that injury he sustained. Haven’t changed strength and conditioning coach have we. Medical staff still the same– yep. Be prepared to lead the league in the one catagory we don’t want to- the most injuries. A few misdiagnoses this year. It’s not as bad as we thought he will be back this season, oh wait now it’s worse than we thought he is out for the year– heard that on 3 separate occasions this year. Always seems other teams are better conditioned than us as well… I guess we need to pay them a few million more dollars so we can continue to lead the league in that catagory.

    1. “Anyone here really think that Desmond bishop will be the same beast after that injury he sustained?”

      The difference is that it’s his hamstring — not a joint, with ligament/cartilage damage.

      Does anyone know all the details?
      No. But based on what I’ve read, he has a pretty good shot of returning to previous form.

  7. I agree with Vandermause. I don’t care what they did in the past, this year there were a couple teams they couldn’t get past. Yeah there some woulda coulda shouldas from Saturday’s game, but the bottom line is that they didn’t.

    Cullen Jenkins, the good Charles Woodson, & Nick Collins from the 2010 team are gone, replaced by a bunch of guys. The o-line could use some ugrades & depth. Jennings & Driver & possibly Finley may be gone. That’s a lot of holes to fill from one draft class. It’s going to be a challenge for them to win 11 games again.

    1. Cullen Jenkins had 4 sacks this year. Mike Neal had 4.5. Charles Woodson is not the player he was but Casey Hayward got 6 picks and more importantly crucial playing time together.

      Nick Collins is a huge miss but Morgan Burnett is improving. If you count Burnett’s rookie season as an effective redshirt he’ll be at the same stage of his career next year as Collins was the first year he went to the Pro Bowl. The line has 2 first round tackles coming back and now knows that Newhouse is a solid starter and Barclay at worst a capable back up.

      Yes there are issues but this team needs an elective procedure not emergency life saving surgery..

      1. Cullen Jenkins’ current stats are a red herring. The point is that they’ve replaced his 2010 production with a shlub like Mike Neal.

        1. Fair point about the comparison. Jenkins had 7 sacks in 2010 and 18 tackles to 11 in the same number of games though Jenkins started 8 games to Neal’s one and I would guess played a bunch more snaps.

          It’s not the difference between a game changer and a scrub …for me anyway.

  8. Like you say elite means different things to different people but 4 straight play off appearances to me is up there. If you say what the Packers have achieved over the last 4 years isn’t good enough to be considered elite what is ? At least a championship game every year ? In which case there have been very few elite teams in the history of the NFL and the MM Packers have never been elite..

    The Packers are a team who won 11 games despite an horrific injury list, who will welcome back 3 first round picks and a staring ILB next year plus a draft. They have a good HC and front office and an elite QB. That’s not to say there are no worries but there are worse places to be.

    Unlike Adam I’m not sure I get where Vandermause is going. I think the ridiculous assertion you highlighted sets the tone for the whole piece. Last year people got carried away in praise, now they are in criticism. The truth as ever lies somewhere in the middle..

  9. How would any of us feel if we backed the Lions, eg?. The Bills? The Raiders? Etc. Those fans only have hopes, however far-fetched. We are SURE we’ll have a winning season, at least 9 wins. Our hopes are higher so disappointment will be greater.

  10. I like the tone most of you guys are taking here. I’m pretty negative about our preparation and performance for the last game, but that doesn’t mean I think this team is broken and needs a rebuild. As you guys have said, to be in the hunt every year is something to be grateful for.

  11. The Defense needs a refresh, dom instilled a great foundation for the 3-4, but i think the lack of zone adjustments vs man in the san fran game was evident of a tired and mismatched coach. We need better linebackers and safeties, along with some more meat on dline.

    Silver lining is the cbs hayward and shields; tramon is getting schooled.

    Offensively campen needs to go, even with the injuries the line hasn’t been too good. Rodgers may have capped a bit too, that or he needs more continuity on the offense to excel. Cobb in backfield will help, but we need a big back to get the hard yards. Duhuan has a lot of potential. Lets get the screens going.

    Special teams was relatively decent. Ross has potential, the late change was stupid tho. McCarthy failed by having him on punts instead of kick offs like Minnesota game.

  12. Better run game and run d will go a long way. Im not sure campen and dom (love the guy) can get it done. McCarthy has a lot of work to do, he gets a little stiff, and don’t get me wrong i really like the guy, but he gets a little slow to form and execute a contingency plan. He is stable which is nice, but needs that fresh look. Needs to axe bad plays like the kuhn one yard loss.

    Thompson needs to upgrade the teams speed.

  13. “The Mouse” is an idiot. The reality is that he is being sucked into the “Read Option” trend that has started. This trend will go the way of the single wing and all the other adaptations in a fairly short time. Once defenses get a refresher course from some college coaches in how to defend it, QB’s like Kaepernick will be leaving the field in body bags. Take a look at RG3 and see what can happen.

    The reason Kaepernick played better that AR Saturday was due to an under-sized, under-talented, uncoachable, slow defense. The reason I’m not ready to tar and feather Capers yet is due to the talent he is saddled with. Especially, the LB’s (CM3 excepted).

    One of the biggest clues to GB’s problem was last week’s All-Pro selections. Zero Packers made the team. We don’t have the talent folks. We’re damn lucky we have AR because without him the playoffs would be a thing of the past.

    Let’s see how Caepernick performs in Atlanta this week. The dirty birds don’t have the best defense in the league, but I’ll guarentee you the read option will not perform anywhere near the level it did against the Packers.

    So, before crowning the read/option QBs king of the hill wait just a little while and the trend will change. It will go the way of the original shot gun. It will be around but it will only be part of the play book. To be used sparingly.

      1. Haven’t kept up on my Saturday morming cartoons of late. You’ll have to explainto this old guy before I can understand. 🙂

        1. The souffle is the Option read that is beautiful when done right and everyone loves it…until the door is slammed creating a loud thud which deflats the souffle and makes it look like a crap full of ingredients.
          Hence,it becomes a rarely ordered item and only for special occasions.

            1. Happy you liked my explaination….nothing like a good Aesop Fables and Morals now and then.

    1. And it will not work at all against either the Pats or Ravens. I agree that the Packers lack of speed on the F7 was exposed, but part was no evidence of preparation for the ‘read option’. Walden looked like a chicken with head cut off. But without the Ross fumble – who knows.

  14. Abolutely not elite. They don’t have the “fight” the “eye of the tiger” to be considered elite. They were taken apart twice by the 9ers and the Giants. They were soft against the Colts and blew an 18 point lead. Their only strong game against a top team was against Houston. They blew away Tennessee but so can most college teams. No other team did they put away a win early in the game because they don’t put the pedal to the metal. They squeaked past the Saints and beat St Louis, Jacksonville, Arizona, Detroit (twice), excuse me while I yawn. None of them blowouts. Elite teams separate themselves from their opponents early in the game.

  15. I would like to see the Pack at full strength, Bulaga,Bishop,Perry,DJ Smith.Benson. Before I answer that question

    1. Wouldn’t have made a difference at all. Benson gained 18 yards against the 49ers. That was a one year stop gap because after 8 drafts Ted T has failed to draft a decent RB yet. Bishop would have helped but good god, did you see Perry trying to hold the edge or cover? The problem Saturday night was not on the O-Line so that take’s Bulaga off the list.

  16. The one thing that stands out to me in this piece is that after one impressive (ok, INSANELY impressive) playoff win, Kaepernick has surpassed Aaron Rodgers in the “fear factor” category? It’s a bit early for that and sounds very reactionary, Mike. Let’s see if there’s any truth to this and if Kaepernick can raise his level of play 5 seasons in a row. What will he and everyone be saying about Kaep if they can’t get by ATL this weekend?! This piece is a lot for MV to hang his hat on.

    I’m no homer by any means and I would even agree, Green Bay has allowed themselves to get pushed out of the “elite” category. But I DO watch a lot of Aaron Rodgers and I expect him to single-handedly win a few by himself again next season and have the Packers back in the postseason.

  17. Who gives a shit?

    It’s all how one chooses to look at things. All I know is I am confident this team can contend for “another” SB “next year”, and the year after that, with just a little good luck on the injury front and another decent draft class. Does that make them elite? Who gives a shit.

    GBP 4 LIFE

    1. Fitzy, I avoided reading this article until today simply because I thought the premise was laughable- “Who gives a shit if the Packers are Elite” is exactly what I thought (no offense meant towards your writing, Adam!!)

      I don’t need a team who’s head-and-shoulders better than every other team out there so I can brag to other fans that they suck and the Packers rule the universe. Give me a team that can scrap and play with heart, put on a good game, and have a chance to catch lightning in a bottle here and there, and I’m good.

      I’m a god-damned Packers fan… Not a fan who needs a dominating team to feel good about his own life. I’m happy when the team succeeds, but I’m also proud to back them when they’re underdogs and have their backs against the wall. Bleed green and gold till I can’t bleed anymore.

      1. “Who gives a shit if the Packers are Elite”

        That’s basically what I concluded in the post, Oppy. So the obvious question is, why did I bother writing a post about the Packers being elite if it really doesn’t matter, if it’s just a word?

        I guess I wrote it because I’m a bit of a nerd and like discussing this sort of thing, even if I sometimes hate myself for discussing it. Plus I enjoy the commenters on this site and like reading the reactions to questions like this.

        1. Just to be clear, Adam- my comment was NOT meant of a criticism of your article.

          I don’t know if I’ve ever read an article posted here that wasn’t well thought out or written. That said, what I do find rubs me the wrong way is people who carry the mindset of “Winning is Everything” (especially when it pertains to life in general), and I figure a debate about being elite would reel in a bunch of those folks, so I avoided the post for a bit, that’s all.

          1. Oh, I know. No offense was taken.

            Sometimes I like posting things like the elite question because of the quality of our commenters. Sure, you get some head-scratchers, but compare the comments here to the sewage system that is the Journal Sentinel’s comments section. Yikes.

            We’ve got a pretty good group around here.

            1. I agree whole heartedly and that’s exactly why I post here and NOT on JSO, or, (shudder) Yahoo! Sports..

  18. The packers have holes in three of the four linebacking positions. Perry will help but that leave the inside backers. That and an upgrade on Capers and I think they have a team to be feared. Last time I checked 31 points on offense should at least keep you in the game. An improved D will let them compete with anyone.

    1. as somebody pointed out already (totalpackers?), 7 of the 31 came from Sam Shields and another 7 came in the waning minutes of the 4th quarter… so an argument could be made for an offense that score 17 pts when it mattered.

  19. Kevin, our leading tackler and 2nd most productive sack guy didn’t play a snap this regular season – Bishop. His promising backup was lost early in the season – Smith. Health played a huge factor for the ILBs this year. Hawk is the weak link there, but due to injuries, he was the one we had to lean on this year. He needs to go. Now. I’d still love to see us draft an assassin to plug in next to Bishop, let Smith be a pimpin backup… Things could change pretty quick.

  20. Elite or not elite who cares, it’s just a word. But feared, nope, the Packers are no longer feared by anyone, and they won’t be until the coaching staff stops making excuses about “Fundamentals” and instills some A$$ kicking killer instinct into some of these guys! The Packers are soft, and mainly because there’s too many teachers and not enough a$$ kickers on the coaching staff! Cowher could have this team winning next year, but he’s got balls! The Packers will NEVER be a dynasty with McPuffy!

    1. Cowher in 15 years with the Steelers had according to Wikipedia 8 division titles, 10 playoff appearances played in 6 championship games and 2 Super Bowls winning one.

      MM by my count in 7 seasons has 5 playoff appearances 3 division titles 2 championship games and one Super Bowl. MM may have his flaws but his record bears comparison with anyone not named Bellichick surely ?

  21. Before anyone can say it, I’m not a bandwagon jumper. Been a Packers fan since I was shoveling snow in River Falls WI. when I was lad in 1964. Get the idea? If you loved the Packers in the 80’s, that was a fan! I’ve been saying it since the beginning of the season, you take Aaron Rodgers off this team you have a 2-14 team. I’m so sick of “In Ted we trust” and all the other wonderful things people say about Ted T. When I suggested that Teddy has provided a all world QB,(Who fell in his lap) Matthews, Collins, maybe Raji, and a few decent receivers I’ve been crucified on some sites. I mean did you see our backup QB’s first snap this year? Did you see the defense collapse against a rookie QB who was making his 5th start with the Colts starting a bunch of second string players on the O-Line that day? Did you see the celebration after the Wildcard game when we surrendered only 175 yards or so against the Vikings? 175 yards and a celebration! Thank god our 36 year old Safety is back! This is the team Teddy has provided us after 8 drafts! John Schnieder (Seattles G.M.) built that Seahawaks team with 356 roster moves or more the last two years. He cleaned house and that’s what the Packers need to do. Trust and believe if the Packers played the Seahawks in the playoffs like so many wanted the results would have been the same as Saturday night. I love the Packers but I can’t and won’t make excuses for them. Who did we beat? Houston? Any team with a good QB and decent receivers did the same thing against them this year so that wasn’t so special after all. The Packers have a brutal schedule next year and unless some big changes are made to this team, we may not even make the playoffs. Lets hope Ted see’s the writing on the wall. With Rodgers I guess the Packers always have a chance. Get rid of Hawk, Pickett, Woodson, Driver, Kuhn, Tramon Williams, Starks, Saturday, and maybe Finley. Jennings is as good as gone. That creates a ton of cap space. Sign Rodgers, Raji, and CMIII to deals before they see what a idiot we have for a GM and bolt for somewhere else when they become free agents. After all, the Packers can only franchise one player a year. Go ahead and rip me now and keep trusting Ted. Before you do, just look up and down that roster and look at all the players I didn’t mention and tell me who is anything other than average at best.

    1. “(who fell in his lap)”

      With all due respect, please, stop the hating.

      23 NFL General Managers had Aaron Rodgers “fall into their laps”, and 23 NFL General Managers pushed Aaron Rodgers right off their lap, stood up, and picked someone else.

      Every player ever picked by any general manager in any NFL draft could be said to have “fell into (someone’s) lap”.

      Even if a GM makes a trade to go up and get a player (as TT did with Matthews, for example), you can bitch and complain and downgrade the decision by saying it was only possible because all the teams before that pick passed him up and left him there for the taking.

      I’m sick and tired of so many people detracting from a good pick because the player “shouldn’t have been there”.

      Guess what, he was, and we took him.

      Get over it.

  22. The Packers are still elite, but they have grown moribund under MM. It is said that all teams reflect the character of their leader and that so clearly applies to the Packers. They will continue to be successful because of the way that MM coaches. But will they be able to transcend the constraints of routine that MM has learned to rely on as his go to methodology? I think not.

    His style makes for predictable and consistent success, thus the track record of post-season appearances but that same vanilla style appears to limit the team’s ability to rally and rise emotionally and psychologically to the challenge that teams such as the Giants and the 49ers represent in terms of their superior physicality or alternative schemes.

    Will they continue to be successful under MM? Absolutely.

    Will they win more Super Bowls under MM? Simply a matter of any given Sunday, but certainly not an indicator of being an “elite” team.

  23. Going down hard two years in a row in the playoffs is hard to take.Had they played San Fran tough,and lost a close game I would feel better about the future. This organization needs to take a hard look at itself to figure out what it takes to get back to being a feared team again.Rogers won’t be around forever.Only one Super Bowl with that great of a quarterback would be a terrible waste. They just don’t come around that often.

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