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Packer Fans Still Betting On Long Shot

by Mark Quarderer
As a lifelong Packer fan, Ive had the great pleasure of watching this team have two great runs and hope that Ill get to see at least one more in my lifetime. But as I ponder the various strengths and weaknesses of our team its clear to me that our next run isnt going to start this year.

The 2003 team featured one of the great rushing attacks in NFL history, a group of young, talented receivers, and a defense that after a shaky start developed into one of the stronger defenses in the league. Yet, they made the playoffs only due to a miracle play that knocked Minnesota out on the last day of the season. They won an overtime playoff game against Seattle and then the next week their season ended in an overtime game against Philadelphia that has been discussed ad nauseum at various Packer fan site ever since.

I wrote an article for following that season called Packer Fans Betting On Long Shot in which I raised the question of whether or not Brett Favre would ever take the Packers to the Super Bowl. From my observations and research, it appeared to me that he would not because he simply turned the ball over too much and was getting to the point where his age was becoming a factor.

The article provoked a fair amount of discussion around the Internet, with some people saying, You knowhe could be right but a larger group saying This guy doesnt know what hes talking about. The operating premise was that the Packers were only one play, or one player away from the Super Bowl and that Brett Favre was a top 5 quarterback who could certainly take us there.

But since I wrote that article the Packers have gone 14-18 in the regular season and their only playoff appearance was a disappointing loss, at Lambeau, to an 8-8 team theyd beaten twice in the regular season. Favre had several critical turnovers and poor decisions with the ball and finished with a passer rating in the 50s. In fact, Brett Favre has led ALL players in the NFL in turnovers over the last two seasonsby a substantial marginso it isnt as though that was an anomaly. Clearly, the Packers are much farther away from the Super Bowl than they were then and Brett Favre is a much longer shot now than he was then.

Since the Packers walked off the field as the losers of Super Bowl XXXII, theyve gone 2-5 in playoff games and Favre has a passer rating of 67.4 in the playoffs. Since the middle of the 2002 season, the Packers actually are only a .500 team overall going 28-27 in the regular season and 1-3 in the playoffs. During the 2003 season, a very powerful offense had the ball in their hands SEVEN times with a chance to win or tie at the end of the game and failed every single time. During the 2004 season, with the best line in Packer history in front of him and a current or recent Pro Bowler at every skill position, Favre had a very up and down season in which he threw 20 TDs and 4 interceptions in the odd-numbered games, but had 10 TDs and 13 interceptions in the even numbered ones. (I have no explanation for this; Im just citing it as support for my contention that he wasnt the model of consistency that year). He finished the season ranked 10th in passer rating and to me, that strongly suggested an average quarterback being supported by a very strong cast. In 2005, without that cast, he looked very much like a below average quarterback on a bad team.

Despite the frequent assertion that he's a top 5 quarterback, hes only been ranked higher than 10th once since his MVP days and has finished below 20 several times, so Im not entirely certain what the basis is for that belief.

When you add it all up, what youre left with is a quarterback who is soon to be 37, who has a long record of not playing very well in the playoffs, and is now leading a team coming off a 4-12 season. If you go back to the advent of the Free Agency era, youll see that virtually every 4-12 team that improved significantly over the next year or two did it behind a new quarterback, and that the teams that stuck with their old quarterback didnt do nearly as well.

To me, the facts are pretty clear on this. Favre is a tremendously prolific quarterback and if you surround him with enough talent and let him throw the ball 35 times a game or more, hell throw for over 3500 yards and 30 TDs. But he isnt going to take the Packer s to the Super Bowl and the team isnt going to get better until they make a change at that position.

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