My Green Bay Packers are done for the season.
This is the time to look back and reflect on the season. To appreciate the things we did well, and to take a hard look at what we need and should improve on.
We weathered the storm of missing our two best players on offense -- Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb. It was blatantly apparent in the last two games what magic those two can create when working together. I thought we did fairly well when we got Matt Flynn in there. Yet, it highlighted what everyone has been mumbling about for a while. The protection for Aaron Rodgers in the pocket needs to improve. Aaron is the best in the game. He has to release the ball that quick because his offensive line doesn't allow for all that much time to throw the ball before the pocket collapses. Matt Flynn tried his best, but his inability to get the ball out lightening-quick highlighted just how bad the pocket protection is when the Packers don't have Aaron Rodgers. What I'm trying to say, is Aaron Rodgers masks just how bad our offensive line is. That is something I would certainly like to see fixed in the offseason.
Other things I would like fixed. Our random inability to score in the redzone was a bit weird as the season wore on. James Jones, while not completely reverting to his old ways, did seem to lose some of his laser-focus he displayed last year. He dropped some mighty important throws in that postseason game. That makes me nervous.
I'd like to get rid of Jermichael Finley. He is too inconsistent. While he may be good at blocking (I don't know), he is not a great pass-catcher. I would love a stat of how many balls he drops. I'd rather not have him open, and have Aaron Rodgers questioning whether if he throws Jermichael the ball, that he will actually catch it. Plus, then Jermichael whines and cries to the media about Aaron. How about he looks at himself before he starts complaining about others?
I have really enjoyed the emergence of Boykin.
I loved that Mason Crosby got himself back on track this year. He showed true grit when he took a reduced contract, but with multiple incentives, to stay on the Packers. That's integrity.
Eddie Lacy. I love him. I absolutely adore him. Great running back, great person, great perseverance. He really came through for the team this year. He didn't start off great, and I, probably like others, were thinking that he would peter out like Cedric Benson did. Nope. He excelled. Boy-oh-boy do I hope he wins rookie of the year. I love watching interviews with him. Great smile, great character. I honestly can not say enough nice things about him.
Jordy Nelson deserves an award this season. He was a rock when everything around him was falling apart. Calm, focused, never wavered. Always amazing. Great player on and off the field. Love you Jordy.
What do I say about defense that hasn't already been said? I did hear Aaron say something that did give me pause. That the defense held the Niners to 23 points and that's a game the offense should win. Yes, in fact, he was right (I would never presume to argue with Rodgers). I'm constantly complaining that we allow multiple games with over 30 points. Here was one where we didn't. I think, in this particular game, a lot of it was, for the offense, the slow start, the multiple sacks, the dropped (big play) balls by James Jones.
However, on the last drive, all I kept thinking was, just stop them here. 3rd and 8 -- here is your chance. They couldn't. mental errors, losing contain, broken tackles ... all the things that have plagued the Packers defense for the last few years. Now, I know, we didn't have any of our starts. Still, they, too, make tons of mental errors. Also? I'm not super happy with this bend not break theory of Capers. Bending is not okay because we do break on the big plays. We let a lot of big plays happen. enough.
Enough is enough with the defense. We spent the last two years working on our defense. Do something. I still think the answer is firing Dom Capers. However, we need to get a good defensive coordinator. I know, how about my alumni coach Mark Dantonio? That would be a dream. His record, especially on defense, is impressive.
Now I root for Denver. Peyton Manning -- you're amazing. Classy, talented, and a great leader. You have showed your greatness on and off the field. You have put to rest what Manning brother is the greatest - you. As if there was any debate (actually, obviously there was, which was ridiculous). Plus, this needs to be your last year brother. I worry about you. That neck of yours is made of glass. Please just win this Super Bowl and have that be enough. I don't want to hear about you in a few years when some articles explains how you are in constant, chronic pain.
Madeline Fresco is a novelist who lives in San Francisco. She is the author of CROSSED THE LINE, available for Kindle at Amazon.com, for Nook at Barnes & Noble, and as an ePub at other eBook retailers. You can also listen to her novel as a free, serialized audiobook at madelinefresco.com.