The Green Bay Packers should have won the Super Bowl this season. The best team with the best players on both sides of the ball, Green Bay suffered a number of hardships and letdowns that most teams go through...but why did they collapse?
The offense in Green Bay was never an issue throughout the season. A disjointed rushing attack was never truly valued throughout the season as Aaron Rodgers was more than compensating with 35 points per game. However, the final game of the year saw a complete reversal of the Packers' formula. With 147 rushing yards to 241 passing yards, the Packers offense stalled. Committing four turnovers in their only playoff game compared to the 13 they committed all year, it can be surmised that the Packers' armor crumpled upon a depleted offensive line (missing Bryan Baluaga, Chad Clifton and Derek Sherrod) meeting a monstrous New York Giants defensive line.
The last nail in the coffin for the Packers was dropping balls; a problem that plagued the receiving corps all season, dropped balls finally meant something as Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley let the moment get to them at the worst time possible.
The defense of Green Bay was an issue all season and remained vulnerable as the Packers bowed out of 2011. Taking advantage of a defense prone to giving up big plays, the Giants and Eli Manning gashed the Packers secondary to the tune of 330 passing yards and three touchdowns. 2011 saw usual stars Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji regress in their pass-rushing ability at the same time that cornerbacks Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson and Sam Shields decided to gamble on producing turnovers more than deflecting passes and making tackles.
This all sounds completely miserable, but it should not. All of these flaws are very fixable, which is why the Packers coaching staff are that much more disappointed with the end to this season. The offensive line will be healthy next season and the Packers should focus on balance more effectively throughout the year. The same degree of talent on defense will be present with a renewed intensity and commitment to making the smart play.
Beyond improvements, Rodgers should remain at the MVP level he played at this season with possibly a bigger chip on his shoulder to prove that his Super Bowl was not a fluke. These Packers should be feared next season with an extra piece or two to be added through the draft. With a sour taste in his mouth, Mike McCarthy will be pushing these Packers to do more than "Get the W" as 2011 proved it is not just whether the Packers win, but how they win that matters.
In 2012, the Packers will be winning in the right way, all the way to a second Super Bowl.
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