Something happened in Green Bay that has seriously destroyed the unity among the Packers players. It was evident Sunday in Jacksonville when the Packers added to the string of disappointment that has been the 2008 season. It became more than evident in Sundayâ€™s loss to Jacksonville when players could be seen screaming at each other when they managed to screw up coverages, routes, formations, and another fourth quarter.
The first implosion I witnessed on Sunday came when the Packers had the chance to put a stranglehold on the game with a third and goal at the Jagsâ€™ 5 late in the 2nd quarter. And yet somehow, during a Jags timeout, the offense failed to relay to their tight end what play they were about to run. The ensuing disaster led to a sideline meltdown involving Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy and rookie Tight End Jermichael Finley and a chip shot field goal in lieu of a touchdown. It would prove to be a costly error in yet another close loss.
At the start of the second half, the wheels started to come off, this time on the defensive side of the ball. The Jags lined up on their second play from scrimmage, and the Packer defense left a wide open weak-side slot receiver. In the ensuing confusion, David Garrard managed to connect on a 35-yard completion, leaving the Green Bay defense only one option. Scream at each other.
Unfortunately, yelling at each other seemed to be the only answer the players could come up with on Sunday. The whole demeanor of the team seemed to say â€œThis is not MY fault, this is YOUR fault.â€ It was such a heart wrenching sight to see, since the reality is, they should be saying â€œthis is OUR fault.â€
Forget the lousy defense, forget Aaron Rodgers, forget the lack of short yardage grit, and forget the inability to close out games. This team stinks because they are not a team. At least, they donâ€™t play like one and they sure as hell do not act like one. Come on fellas, this is December! This is when teams that have as much talent as you do are supposed to come together and get wins. Or at the very least, come together after your losses, find ways to mend, and learn HOW to win. At least thatâ€™s what the good ones are supposed to, and the last four weeks have more than exemplified that this team has no business calling itself good because they seem to have no idea how to win games.
Some people might say the residual effect of the Brett Favre drama is rearing its ugly head, but I would hate to believe that summer drama would manifest itself in November and December. This team had time to shake that debacle off, and move on. What they face now seems like an inner turmoil that has managed to break the team from the inside like water frozen inside of a rock.
So whatâ€™s the cause and how can we fix it? Perhaps the close losses have begun to haunt the locker room and maybe all the finger pointing has reached its boiling point. Maybe the coaching staff isnâ€™t doing itâ€™s job or maybe injuries have stalled the team this year. While these are all contributing factors to the mediocrity, heck downright lousiness, of the 2008 season, the real cause of the Packersâ€™ problems is a lack of leadership.
My only hope is that this was the high water mark for the Packersâ€™ frustrations and what follows can be a turning point for the young Packers. As I recall, in 2006 the Packers started winning again after a 4-8 start led to a very similar spat of inner turmoil. We all knew who the leader was who pulled them out of that disaster but he canâ€™t help us anymore. So, the only thing we can ask ourselves is who will it be now? Who can bring this talented young team together and get them back into the win column? I think we all know who it should be, but is #12 ready for it?