Green Bay Packers: December Success a Key For Team, McCarthy

Peter BukowskiSenior Analyst IDecember 4, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 20:  Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers looks on during the NFC championship game against the New York Giants on January 20, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Giants defeated the Packers 23-20 in overtime to advance to the Superbowl XLII.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The last meaningful game the Packers played in December did not go well.

Hellacious winds scoured Soldier Field, Brett Favre threw a pair of picks and the Chicago Bears beat the Packers 35-7. The next week, the Packers, having sewn up the two seed, pummeled the Lions with mostly back-ups and coasted into the playoffs.

That was already two years ago.

Last season, the Packers were 5-7 heading into December and riding a two-game losing streak. They proceeded to finish December a disappointing 1-3, dropping those three games by a combined 10 points. 

Since Mike McCarthy joined the team, the Packers have gone 8-5 in the month of December. That isn’t going to get it done.  

To some degree, it is a microcosm of the McCarthy tenure in Green Bay: The Packers can’t finish, whether it’s drives, games, or seasons.

Until they do, they will not be an elite team in this league.

Winning in December is only trivial if you’ve gotten the division already won. Right now, that list officially includes only the Indianapolis Colts. That means now is not the time to rest on the laurels of having won three straight.

While, the division is all but lost, there is still plenty to play for, though a playoff spot is not a sure thing.

Ten wins may not be enough to get you in, depending on what happens in the NFC East. A repeat of last year’s 1-3 December, and the Packers are looking at spending January on the golf course (the only reason to stay in Green Bay would be if there were football to be played).

If the Packers are able to take care of their business in December, January status is secure. Perhaps, even more important, January football could bring a familiar foe.

If the Saints find a way to lose a game (and they likely will), and the Vikings don’t lose another game (possible they won’t), the Pack could be in position for a Minnesota rematch if they are able to grab a playoff spot and spring a first round upset. (There are a number of different scenarios that could bring about a rematch, plenty of them plausible).

Right now, it is on McCarthy to bring the Packers back to being a cold weather, late season dominating force. That is how Green Bay used to be, and there's still nothing like winter football in Wisconsin.  

The onus does not fall on Aaron Rodgers, as he’s never played a meaningful December game. He will certainly get the opportunity.

Penalties, poor execution, ridiculous play-calling, and underachievement have marred McCarthy’s time in Green Bay. This team is poised to make a playoff run, and if they can even just go 3-2 down the stretch, they should make the playoffs.

Failing to qualify for the postseason would qualify as a choke job, and would fit to stand as the perfect example of why McCarthy is not the man to lead the Packers back to prominence: His teams can't finish.  

The roster is full of players capable of getting the Pack back. It’s time for the coach to step up and bring them together. If he can’t, it will not be a happy new year in the McCarthy home.