Before I jump in, I just want to make one thing very clear—I believe the Packers can and will run the table again. Earlier this week, I gave three reasons why they will. However, in an alternate universe where they do not, here are three reasons why the Packers won’t win the Super Bowl.
Reason #1: Ladarius Gunter is the first option at cornerback.
Gunter isn’t a terrible corner. What he lacks in top speed, he makes up for in size and length. But there’s a reason why he wasn’t a starter entering the season and also would not be starting this Sunday if it wasn’t for the barrage of injuries at cornerback last week. Gunter’s matchup against Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday will be one to watch, and could be the difference in another cold playoff game against the Giants at Lambeau. The bottom line is, without any consistency at the cornerback position, it will be difficult for the Packers to advance in their quest for another title.
Reason #2: The Defense lives and dies by takeaways.
Over the past six weeks, there have been moments when the Packers offense looked virtually unstoppable. Unfortunately, the defense hasn’t exactly been lights out (excluding the Seahawks game where they had five interceptions and six total takeaways). I get it, they’re banged up, and a guy named Herb Waters was just plucked from the practice squad to fill out the depth chart at corner. But this is football, and every team deals with injuries, so no excuses.
The point is that the defense gives up a ton of yards, and can quickly get behind in a game if the offense doesn’t score early and often. The way they’ve been getting it done is by generating takeaways—giving Aaron Rodgers and company extra possessions to put more points on the board. However, as they face better competition, those takeaways could diminish rather quickly thereby putting pressure on the offense to play nearly perfect in order to win another championship.
Reason #3: Classic Conservative Coaching. Ahem, McCarthy.
Mike McCarthy is a highly successful NFL coach. He said so himself. And I have to agree with him, so long as we’re defining success as winning games and division titles. I can’t argue with that—however, having arguably the best quarterback in football doesn’t hurt either. Rodgers has certainly done his part to help. There’s just something about the playoffs—something that gets the best of McCarthy more often than not—something that drives Packers fans absolutely nuts.
Remember the meltdown that was the final five minutes of the 2014 NFC Championship game in Seattle? Poor clock management, poor execution, poor preparation down the stretch. McCarthy’s playoff record is 8-7. That’s with Hall of Famer Brett Favre and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback. 8-7. That should not be. If the same McCarthy we’ve seen in past playoff games shows up, it may not be the decimated secondary or a lack of takeaways that ends the Packers current hot streak. It may be bad decisions made by a coach who has a history of being too conservative in the games that matter most. I believe if McCarthy lets his players play loose and take some chances, they have a shot to win it all. However, if he coaches too conservative too early in games, there’s no way the Packers will win the Super Bowl, because they won’t even get there.
What do you think? Will the Packers make it happen, or will their defense and conservative tendencies be their downfall?