To win a Super Bowl in today’s NFL, a team must have four key ingredients—a talented roster, adequate coaching and a little bit of luck and chemistry between players, coaches and the front office.
The Green Bay Packers clearly have the former two, as the team won a Super Bowl two years ago with largely the same players and coaches.
Luck hasn’t particularly gone Green Bay’s way in the regular season (see Week 3 matchup vs. Seattle Seahawks), but sooner or later, that luck is going to even itself out. Instead of wasting good fortune in the regular season, the Packers should see favor smile upon them in the playoffs.
But as for the latter key ingredient? We all know how buddy-buddy Aaron Rodgers is with all his teammates and how well Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson get along. But with growing off-the-field distractions, how can we be sure this team chemistry will remain strong?
First, Bob McGinn reported at the end of last week that the Packers are determined to part ways with Jermichael Finley.
Finley possesses a ton of natural talent, but his inability to harness his unique gift combined with some of his and his agent’s comments was apparently enough to convince Thompson to find a way to rid the team of the star tight end, whether through trade or a simple release.
Then Mason Crosby’s struggles resurfaced in a strong way Sunday against the Chicago Bears when he missed both of his field goals, one of which was nowhere in the vicinity of either goal post.
While this has been a recurring on-the-field problem for Crosby, the lack of trust that inevitably builds among the players will manifest in the locker room, where some will stick by his side (including McCarthy, who is too stubborn to bring in another kicker for the end of the year, but that’s another story), while others will question why their hard work is continually being put in jeopardy by a man who is clearly off his game.
And now on Tuesday, Greg Jennings said on the Double Coverage podcast his “educated guess” is he won’t return to Green Bay next year.
Earlier in the season, after many debates and rumors about whether the star receiver should be traded to ensure Green Bay wouldn’t be left without anything in case he leaves, Jennings put the contract talk to rest to avoid any more distractions. Tuesday’s comments, however, do quite the opposite of that.
And so, the Packers now are peaking on the field and hitting a low point off of it at the same time. With only two regular-season games to go, the former comes at the absolute best possible time, while the latter comes at the worst.
This should worry every Green Bay fan. Team chemistry is incredibly important for success in the postseason.
None of Terrell Owens’ teams for example, ever won a Super Bowl. His cancerous personality tore teams apart and ruined potential Super Bowl runs. He did make one Super Bowl and had other successes in the postseason, but as good as some of his teams were, he probably should have at least one ring on his finger.
While no one on Green Bay’s roster is nearly as controversial as Owens, the three aforementioned problems can still have a similar effect.
Any problem that involves a decision on whether or not a player will be kept for the future divides both coaches and players.
Some will think Finley’s antics are too much to put up with, while others will say his talent is worth it. Some will believe Crosby should still be trusted, while others will want a new kicker. Some will think Jennings should be kept no matter the cost, while others will disagree.
These would all be fine for the team to disagree and argue over if they occurred during the offseason. But they have no place in a locker room when the team is gearing up to make a deep playoff run.
Every player must be completely focused on the upcoming game, and these kinds of distractions can prevent that from happening.
They’ve got the talent and the coaching. Aside from random luck, all that’s left to ensure a strong postseason run is team unity.
Let’s hope these distractions don’t derail a potentially great team.