By DREW OLSON
Packers general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy have made it their mission to make Green Bay the best team in the National Football League. The Super Bowl rings they won last year in Dallas are a testament to their success.
But, the mission didn’t end then and there. It never does.
When the 2011 season ended with a disappointing home playoff loss to New York Sunday at Lambeau Field, Thompson, McCarthy and a couple hundred thousand shareholders / experts / donkey radio hosts began wondering what needs to happen in order for next year to end in glory rather than defeat.
Here is a humble suggestion:
Ted and Mike need to lower their standards a bit and sprinkle in a dose of mediocrity.
The “sarcasm” font on my MacBook Pro is broken, but I’m only half-kidding. The Packers’ 15-1 record was the best in the league during the regular season. That accomplishment, which is a fixture on the Thompson/McCarthy checklist, gave the
Packers home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Did you know that five of the last seven teams to enter the playoffs with the NFL’s best record have lost their first playoff game? Did you know that the last team to post the best record in the league and win a Super Bowl was New England in 2003?
Since 2005, top-seeded teams are a combined 6-8 in the divisional round.
Winning the Super Bowl makes life even more difficult.
Last year may have been awesome for Green Bay, but the defending Super Bowl champion has not won a playoff game since 2005, when New England beat Jacksonville in a wild-card game before losing to Denver in the divisional round.
The NFC’s Super Bowl contestant hasn’t won a playoff game in the year following its championship since 1998, when the Packers ousted Tampa Bay and San Francisco before losing to Denver in the Super Bowl.
Success in the NFL doesn’t necessarily breed success. There are plenty of theories about this. Jason Lisk at TheBigLead.com has some numbers that show that turnovers are the key.
The bottom line, though, is that the league is structured in ways that make it difficult to sustain excellence.
Now that they’ve been knocked out of the playoffs, maybe the Packers can find a way to lose a couple regular-season games next year and get back to the top of the mountain.
Opinion, news, notes and nonsense
It's impossible to say that a three-week layoff was a factor in Aaron Rodgers' performance Sunday. I think that the Packers quarterback competed as hard as any athlete I've seen in the past year, but he did seem out of sorts. Rodgers usually exudes a sense of calm. On Sunday, he seemed to be pressing a bit.
If you've watched Marquette this season, you have to be impressed with the improvement shown by Davante Gardner. The guy has a chance to be a force in the Big East this year and next.
If you missed it, check out ESPN's "Content of Character" feature on Henry Aaron. It was done for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and it's terrific.
The Packers-Giants game drew the biggest TV rating of the weekend. I'm not surprised. What surprised me is that it was the highest rating for any divisional game on any network since 1997 (Cowboys vs. Panthers). What was so great about that game?
SportsPage video of the day
Is Eli Manning an "elite" quarterback? What does that term mean, anyway? The gang from "First Take" takes up the debate...
AROUND THE HORN
News from other sources
Mike Neal ponders his future
Jarrett Bush isn't sure about 2012, either
Adam McCalvy looks at the Nyjer Morgan signing and other arbitration cases
Tom Haudricourt on the deadline looming for Aoki, others
Don't look now, but the Bucks are 0-8 on the road
M.V.T. (Most Valuable Tweets)
Interesting comments from the world of Twitter
There are always interesting comments on Twitter, but today this one stands alone:
Plush is back Nation!!!!
VIEW FROM THE BASEMENT
What the sports blogs are writing
Cheesehead TV fires up a little Hot Stove talk, Packers style
Cracked Sidewalks on MU's defensive effort against Louisville
A great post from BrewHoop about Andrew Bogut's unusual matinee against Philly
Awful Announcing on the future of the NFL blackout rule
Editor's note: We are always looking for interesting blog items about Wisconsin sports teams. If you have a favorite blog or come across an item we should spotlight, e-mail the address to SportsPage headquarters.
BUCKS -- vs. Denver, 7 tonight
BADGERS -- vs. Northwestern, 8 p.m. Thursday
GOLDEN EAGLES -- at Providence, 6 p.m. Friday
TODAY’S ESPNMILWAUKEE LINEUPS
5 a.m. -- Mike & Mike in the Morning
9 a.m. -- Green and Gold Today
10 a.m. -- The D-List
1 p.m. -- Scott Van Pelt Show
1:30 p.m. -- The Aaron Rodgers Show
3 p.m. -- Homer and Thunder
6 p.m. -- Marquette Basketball Hour
7 p.m. -- ESPN Radio
Simulcasting 540 ESPN
Broadcasting in Spanish
THIS DATE IN SPORTS HISTORY (JAN. 17)
1916 - 1st PGA Championship: Jim Barnes at Siwanoy CC Bronxville NY
1916 - Professional Golfer Association (PGA) forms in NYC
1934 - Carl Hubbell, NL MVP winner, gets $18,000 contract by the NY Giants
1934 - NY Giants reward MVP pitcher Carl Hubbell with $18,000 contract
1954 - NFL Pro Bowl: East beats West 20-9
1960 - Mickey Wright wins LPGA Sea Island Women's Golf Invitational
1960 - NFL Pro Bowl: West beats East 38-21
1963 - Wilt Chamberlain of NBA SF Warriors scores 67 points vs LA
1970 - 357 Baseball Players are available in the free-agent draft
1970 - AFL Pro Bowl: West beats East 26-3
1970 - Sporting News names Willie Mays as Player of the Decade for the 1960s
1971 - Super Bowl V: Balt Colts-16, Dallas Cowboys-13 in Miami Superbowl MVP: Chuck Howley, Dallas, LB
1977 - NFL Pro Bowl: AFC beats NFC 24-14
1979 - NY Islanders didn't get a shot off in 1 period against NY Rangers
1986 - Tim Witherspoon beats Tony Tubbs in 15 for Heavyweight boxing title
1989 - Al Arbour wins his 600th NHL game as coach
1989 - Phoenix Suns cancel game at Miami Heat, due to racial unrest in Miami
1995 - LA Rams announce that they are moving to St Louis
1997 - NBA suspends Dennis Rodman indefinitely/$25,000 for kicking cameraman
JAN. 17 BIRTHDAYS
1908 - Cus D'Amato, American boxing manager (d. 1985)
1929 - Jacques "Jake the Snake" Plante, Quebec, NHL goaltender (#1)
1930 - Eddie LeBaron, American football player
1931 - Don Zimmer, American baseball coach
1935 - Jimmy Powell, Dallas TX, PGA golfer (1990 Southwestern Bell Classic)
1942 - Muhammad Ali, [Cassius Clay], Heavyweight champ boxer (1964-7 74-8)
1952 - Darrell Porter, American baseball player (d. 2002)
1964 - Jeff Tabaka, US baseball pitcher (San Diego Padres)
1965 - Sylvain Turgeon, Canadian ice hockey player
1970 - Jeremy Roenick, Boston MA, NHL center (Team USA, Blackhawks, Coyotes)
1971 - Derek Plante, Cloquet, NHL center (Buffalo Sabres)
1971 - Tyler Houston, US baseball catcher (Atlanta Braves)
1982 - Dwyane Wade, American basketball player
There are no games scheduled for today.