Nover's View: Packers RIP

by Stephen Nover

The Packers were playing with fire all season with the worst special teams units in the NFL. An explosive offense and improved defense couldn't cover for special teams breakdowns and poor coaching. The result is the Packers got burned by their special teams at the worst possible time. They went one-and-done in the playoffs losing to an inferior 49ers team.

The bigger question now for the Packers is this the end of their regular-season dominance?

I believe it is.

The home playoff loss to the Buccaneers last year and the one to the 49ers this season exposed a number of myths about the Packers:

Myth: Green Bay is well coached. No, not in the playoffs. Forget Matt LaFleur's three-year outstanding regular season record. He chokes in the big games. He made a terrible decision to kick a late field goal against the Buccaneers in last season's NFC title game and his passive game plan against a vulnerable 49ers secondary was a huge mistake, too. Aaron Rodgers is capable of much more than handing off and throwing short passes to Davante Adams. LaFleur had three years to fix special teams issues that have plagued the Packers. He failed to do so.

Myth: The Packers have a cold weather advantage. They don't. They are 7-7 in the last 14 home playoff games. Both Rodgers and Brett Favre had bad performances during their last couple of home playoff games in cold weather. Their advanced ages could be to blame for this. 

Myth: Special teams don't matter. Of course they do. But that wasn't the approach the Packers took. Green Bay went the cheap route regarding special teams hiring or promoting a bunch of lightweights instead of paying the bucks to get an elite special teams coach. Maurice Drayton, Shawn Mennenga, Ron Zook, Shawn Slocum, Mike Stock and John Bonamego. Do any of those names ring a bell? They shouldn't because they've been the Packers' last six special teams coaches. None distinguished themselves. All were terrible.

The Packers enter this off-season projected to be $44.8 million above the salary cap. Only the Saints are in a worst salary cap position. 

This leaves the Packers a choice of trying to keep Rodgers and play with far less front line talent, or lose Rodgers and begin a massive rebuild.

Rodgers already has said he doesn't want to be part of a rebuild. So I'd say there's better than a 50-50 chance of Rodgers not being with the Packers next season. 

That means the Jordan Love era could begin. I'm not high on Love, judging by reports of how he looked during practices and seeing him in game action. He strikes me as little more than a game manager and an inaccurate one at that. 

LaFleur's proud won-lost record is going to take a massive hit if he has to go from Rodgers to Love. Then you'll really see just how good a coach LaFleur is. 

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