NFL History: Comparing the 2011 Green Bay Packers to the 2007 NE Patriots
The outcome of last weekend’s games guaranteed that the Green Bay Packers will be the last team in the NFL to lose a game this season. But it hasn’t been all perfect, as they have struggled to score points in the second half of their games. Luckily for them, the offense has been dominant enough in the first half to secure wins.
Often, this is the point of the season where the comparisons begin with the 2007 New England Patriots, as they were the last team to go undefeated in the regular season. Past challengers weren’t worthy of the title “best ever” in the NFL, but the Pack are a different contender. They may actually have a better roster than their Super Bowl-winning team of last season.
Let’s compare the 2011 Green Bay Packers to the 2007 New England Patriots:
Hands down, Aaron Rodgers is the MVP of the league right now. What’s not to like? He’s more mobile and has a better, more accurate arm than any other quarterback in the NFL. Rodgers is often more prepared than the opposition, as he doesn’t force the ball into double coverage. Rarely do his mistakes kill any potential scoring drives.
Let’s not forget that Tom Brady is the greatest on-field leader in modern football. Once the Pats gain a lead, rarely does he relinquish it back to their opponents. Brady dissects a defense with his precision accuracy on the seam route, as he lets his playmakers make plays.
Both teams have non-existent running games, as their fortunes have been gained through the air with off-the-charts passing attacks. The Patriots aren’t looking for a grinding back, but rather a sound pass-protector that has reliable hands. Kevin Faulk isn’t a flashy runner, as his true value is being a dependable receiver coming out of the backfield.
Packers RB Ryan Grant is a unique back. He has the uncanny ability to change speeds in the open field and the toughness to bounce off defenders at the line of scrimmage. Tackling him is often a difficult task for any opposing player.
It’s easy to see that the Packers' starters aren’t as talented as the New England Patriots'. Greg Jennings is an excellent receiver, but his talents aren’t at the level of a Randy Moss in 2007. Brady relied heavily on Moss and Wes Welker to make big plays, and if either doesn't come through, then the 18-1 season is a pure myth.
Further down the depth chart, the Pack have the better receivers, as the Patriots never had a third-down receiver like Jordy Nelson or James Jones on their roster. Rodgers and Co. can spread defenses with a five-wide set and score from anywhere on the field.
The Packers' O-line matches up well against most defensive fronts, as they love to pound the football on the ground. The key to their success is finishing drives by scoring seven and not settling for three. This allows the offense to stay balanced and expose the holes of the defense.
The 2007 Pats loved to score early and often on their opponents, as the O-line protected Brady long enough to throw the football consistently into the end zone. They also allowed the offense to run effectively out of their three-wide set against nickel packages.
The Patriots had a very weak pass rush, as their secondary was excellent at limiting the big play from happening. This defense was built to shut down teams and not to shut them out.
At times, the Packers' defensive front seven has shown a tremendous pass rush. The secondary can make any afternoon miserable for most quarterbacks. Last season, they recorded 32 interceptions and defended 131 passes, due in large part to Nick Collins and Tramon Williams being in the prime of their careers.
Both teams take to the field fully expecting to win games that will help them gain a playoff berth. They both understand that they’re more important games to be won come January.
Neither team is ever caught sleeping on busted plays, giving up big yardage on blown coverage or having their receivers running the wrong routes. The big difference between coaching staffs are Mike McCarthy will focus on giving confidence to his team, while Bill Belichick will accentuate on his team’s negatives for the coming week.
You can’t argue with success.