The Green Bay Packers are headed to Super Bowl XLV! Yesterday was my birthday, and having the Packers in the Super Bowl is one of the best presents ever, and it would be better if they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers. I remember in 1996 when they won the Super Bowl on my birthday. I may have been only six years old, but I can remember Desmond Howard returning a kick for a touchdown, Brett Favre and Reggie White.
The Packers will go to Dallas to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in a battle of two storied franchises in Super Bowl XLV. It has been since 1997 since the Packers have made the Super Bowl, which was a loss and they last won the Super Bowl in 1996. For Pittsburgh they won the Super Bowl in 2009 and in 2006. They have the most titles with six, and Green Bay has three.
This year the Packers have a strong team, yet they have key injuries. Many unsung heroes have stepped up for the Packers, and many superstars have helped carry the load. From Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews to B.J. Raji, Sam Shields, James Starks and Erik Walden, this has been a season where a team has come together, and played their hearts out.
The Packers lost starters Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, and Jermichael Finley early to injuries, and many of those young players have stepped up and filled the void left by those established players. This season the Packers have had 15 players on injured reserve and yet they reached the Super Bowl, there is probably not a better feel good story than this one right now.
As fans, all the credit should go to Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers, Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy for building this team. At times, frustration has mounted with these three, but now all the credit goes to them. Thompson might not go after big name free agents, but he knows how to build a team.
He has an eye for young talent. Just take Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, and Jordy Nelson for example. They fit right into the Packers system and have become playmakers. Thompson's best move was taking Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 Draft, where Rodgers fell to No. 25, and is now the Packers leader and starting quarterback.
Also, taking Raji last year in the top ten, and then trading back into the first round to snag Clay Matthews were great pick-ups as well. Aquiring Charles Woodson has been his best free agent aquisation. Not to mention, he has a great eye to see players that fly under the radar. Sam Shields, Erik Walden, Tramon Williams all fall into this category. Thompson has also had his share of bad pick-ups. He drafted Justin Harrell in the first round, and he has yet to pan out.
For Mike McCarthy, this season has been his best work. McCarthy has developed Aaron Rodgers into an elite quarterback. It helped Rodgers that he sat behind Favre for three years, but McCarthy's development shouldn't be overlooked. McCarthy, like Thompson, has an eye for young talent, and then develops that young talent into playmakers. Also, McCarthy has done a great job of motivating his team in spite of all the injuries this season. The players could of turned on him, and the team could of gave up, but instead McCarthy each week told his team to keep fighting, and that's why they are now in the Super Bowl preparing for the Steelers.
Dom Capers has been a great defensive coordinator. He instilled the 3-4 defense last year, and since it has worked and has developed this team into a top defense in the NFL. In fact, this defense is one that pretty much won the NFC Championship game. Capers made Woodson into the NFL defensive player of the year last year, and probably Matthews this year.
He has trained the right players for the system. He has a great job with the defensive line, and getting pressure on the quarterback. He know when to rush the quarterback and when to drop back in coverage. He has made Matthews into the dominant player that he is. Matthews never quits and always is making plays. His presence his felt on that defense. Plus, not to mention Charles Woodson's career has exploded, even as he is getting younger. Capers uses Woodson in all packages, whether it is against the run or pass.
Well, this team has had a great season,and let's keep cheering them on to victory when Super Bowl
Sunday comes next week. In the meantime, he are some keys for the Packers in order to win Super Bowl XLV:
1. Defensively, stay consistent, keep playing dominant, and get pressure on Ben Roethliesberger, and make him make mistakes.
Roethliesberger is a proven quarterback. He is mobile, and has a strong arm. He has good field vision, and can stretch the field. Remember last year when the Packers played the Steelers, he torched the secondary, and as a result the Steelers won. This year, get pressure on him and make him make mistakes.
Second, this defense can be dominant. They can win games. If Pouncey cannot go next weekend, take that to advantage, and get plenty of pressure on Big Ben. I believe B.J. Raji could have a field day, let Raji go to work. Also, the linebackers have to be aware at all times. Make sure when not rushing, to stay on their corresponding opponent. Make Clay Matthews a factor, and let him wreak havoc on the Steelers offensive line, and on Big Ben.
Finally, in the secondary, play physical, but not to physical, and don't let big plays happen. Steelers Mike Wallace is fast and deadly. Stay on him at all times. Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson will have big tasks ahead of them.
Remember defense wins championships.
2. Create turnovers.
The Packers defense has done a great of creating turnover, and a big part of that is getting good pressure on the quarterback to create interceptions, and then by knocking fumbles out when making tackles.
Be risky, and go for interceptions, stay in front of the opposition.
3. As I said last week, let Aaron Rodgers to his thing, but also utilize the run game.
Aaron Rodgers has had a great postseason. The only real exception was when he played poorly in the second half against Chicago. If Rodgers is given time, he will find his receivers and create big plays with his arm, and will with his legs too.
Also, use the running game. James Starks can be explosive, create big runs, and find holes in the defense. He is only a rookie, but has played this offseason like a veteran. Let him do his thing.
There you have it! Now put on your Green and Gold and cheer on the Packers onto victory in Super Bowl XLV. Make 2011 be like 1996 again!