The Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s and the New England Patriots of the 2000s—all three are legendary dynasties that have posted their stamp in the NFL history books.
Could the Green Bay Packers be the next to make their mark?
Since the New England Patriots are the most recent to impose their will upon the NFL, we’ll stack Green Bay up to them and figure out once and for all if the Packers have what it takes to win multiple titles in a short number of years.
So sit back, strap in and fix your eyes upon the comparison of the decade.
The New England Patriots of the 2000s or the Green Bay Packers of the 2010s.
Let’s start with the Patriots.
In 2001, the New England Patriots reached the playoffs for the first time since 1998 and made the Super Bowl under second-year head coach Bill Belichick.
This began a run of eight AFC East division titles in 10 years for the Patriots.
Their run included four Super Bowl appearances, three victories—2001, 2003 and 2004—and the rise of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
With their Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, the Patriots became the eighth team in NFL history to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
And now for the Packers.
In 2011, after 14 years of subpar football, the Packers won another Super Bowl behind the exuberance of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers have a lot to live up to, there’s no question about that.
Three Super bowls in four years, utter dominance over their division and the rise of an all-time great are large shoes to fill.
If you’re asking me this question right now and only referring to how the two quarterbacks are playing in the present day, then it’s not much of a debate—Aaron Rodgers.
However, it goes without saying that Tom Brady is still an elite quarterback in the NFL.
Rodgers of the present day matched up against Tom Brady of the Super Bowl days, though, is a different story.
Tom Brady is one of the greatest winners of our generation and it’s really difficult to argue with three Super Bowls.
Aaron Rodgers only has one Super Bowl, but that’s only because he hasn’t yet been presented with the same opportunity with great teams alongside of him.
In the four years that Tom Brady led his Patriots to Super Bowl appearances, he threw for an average of 3,740 yards and 30 touchdowns against 11 interceptions, while Rodgers in his only Super Bowl year threw for 3,922 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.
With another Super Bowl within reach for the Packers this year, it would be appropriate to include that his more than 4,600 yards, 45 touchdowns and only a mere six interceptions are the basis for what looks to be a sure-fire MVP Award.
Both guys make passing the football look like child’s play and are the best of the best in their craft.
The true question here is, can Aaron Rodgers sustain the same long-term success that Brady did with the Patriots of the new millennium?
I’m putting the mortgage on the chances that he does.
Aaron Rodgers plays the game with more swagger at his position than anyone of our time and even when he tries to mask his cockiness with simple confidence, deep down he knows he’s better than you.
Even if the Packers aren’t here to stay, Aaron Rodgers is.
In the showdown between Rodgers and Brady, Brady wins, but Rodgers isn’t far behind and that could change very, very quickly.
The Patriots defense of the early 2000s was a strong, hard-nosed, by-the-books defensive unit that found their identity from head coach Bill Belichick.
They were disciplined, hit you hard and made big defensive plays when it mattered most.
You could argue that no play came at a more opportune time than Ty Law’s famous pick-six against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI because it gave them all momentum heading into halftime.
The Patriots entered that game as 14-point underdogs and ended up holding the “Greatest Show on Turf” to only 17 points and promptly beginning their dominance as the best defensive unit in football for three or four years.
From 2003 to 2007, the Patriots defense finished in the top five in scoring defense in all but one year (2006), while also being the AFC leader in takeaways in 2003 and second in 2004.
For the Packers, defense was one of the main reasons they were successful Super Bowl champions in the 2010-11 season.
The 2010 Green Bay Packers led the league in total defense, only giving up 15.0 points per game, while also leading the NFC in turnover differential at plus-10.
The Packers of today are still a good defense, but they fit a little bit different of a mold.
In 2011, the Packers simply didn’t care if you scored on them. They knew they could outscore you on offense.
And while the defense wasn't as good as they were a year ago, they still were middle of the pack in defensive scoring but gave up a lot of yards.
They love to blitz off the edge with Clay Matthews but still have the ability to bait you into making mistakes and rightfully led the NFL in interceptions and were second in turnover differential.
In a comparison of the two defenses, it’s clear that on paper the Patriots were the better unit. They probably also passed the eye test, but you have to remind yourself of the day in age they played.
Nowadays it’s offense and passing the football that wins football games in the NFL, therefore easing a bit for pressure off of teams with dominant offenses.
Patriots win the comparison, but the Packers defense plays well enough to mesh with the changing times in the NFL today.
One of the biggest keys to building a sustaining franchise in the NFL is a team’s ability to build their squad through the NFL draft.
Point blank, these are the two best teams at building their franchises through the drafts.
No one loads up draft picks better than the Patriots and they're so skilled at unloading aging talent for multiple draft picks; picks that they’ve used to draft difference-makers on their Super Bowl teams.
Asante Samuels, Tedy Bruschi and, of course, Tom Brady all come to mind.
All three players have been to Pro Bowls and have helped the Patriots in winning multiple Super Bowls, and all three were drafted in the third round or later.
As for the Packers, their most famous pick was an early round pick, but it was one that will have lasting impacts for years to come.
When Aaron Rodgers was drafted with the 24th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, it was brand new GM Ted Thompson’s first real move in his role with the Packers.
It’s paid off and will continue to pay off.
The Packers may not stockpile draft picks like the Patriots do, but Ted Thompson continues to show why he’s the best in the game at building a team through the draft with the right picks at the right time.
Having a strong head coach who’s grounded in his philosophies but is still flexible to adapt to the game as it changes is an irreplaceable asset.
Let me start by saying that Bill Belichick is one of the best head coaches in recent memory and will probably go down as one of the all-time greats when he finally hangs up his sweatshirt.
Belichick has something the McCarthy doesn’t: multiple rings. Like Brady, Belichick has won three Super Bowls and lost in his fourth chance. McCarthy hasn’t yet had the same opportunity as Belichick, but he is making his fourth playoff appearance in his career this season.
That said, Mike McCarthy has proven a lot since being hired in 2006 and he’s likely to be one of the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL with the Packers team he has now.
The two coaches differ in style—Belichick’s about defense while McCarthy is an offensive guru—but both are strong in their own right.
As for the game played today, McCarthy and his offensive coordinator Joe Philbin fit the mold vertically.
They’re able to use Aaron Rodgers in the pocket, on the move, underneath and over the top and that versatility gives them one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL.
Bill Belichick is by far the better coach and NFL mind, but like I said, McCarthy and his Packers offense fit the pass-heavy trends of NFL offenses in the game today.
Let’s revisit that questions I asked in the first slide: can the Green Bay Packers be the next team to make their mark in the NFL and become the next dynasty?
I’m saying they could.
Aaron Rodgers is that good and their offensive dynamics keep opposing defenses questioning why they even showed up for the game.
I like what they have been able to do through the draft and that leads me to believe that they will continue to make good moves through the annual NFL draft.
Everyone always says defense wins championships, but this is 2012 and the game has changed. There is no shying away from that.
Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay Packers have what it takes to be the next great dynasty in the NFL and they’ll start by doing that this season when they become the ninth team in league history to win back-to-back championships.
It’s still early, but this team is built for long-term success and I'm predicting that 2011 was just the first of a few trips to the White House.