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Superior Ingredients Lead Philly to Victory —Is Green Bay Far Off?

This isn’t the first post of its kind—not on this site or from this author. It’s the one where, as the dust from the Super Bowl settles, there’s an attempt to decipher just how the champion pulled it off. 
Championship-caliber quarterbacks? Elite defenses? Injury-resilient rosters? Accomplished head coaches? Well, Philadelphia’s exhilarating destruction of the Death Star defeat of the Patriots complicates the preceding platitudes.
Not to take anything away from the Eagles’ defense, but it played nothing like the top five unit it was all season. Tom Brady found wide-open targets throughout the contest on his way to 505 passing yards, eclipsing the record he set (466 yards) against the Falcons last February. The Patriots never punted, Brady threw for over a quarter mile with no picks, and they still lost. 
First-time head coach Doug Pederson out-foxed Bill Belichick, who benched a starting cornerback for reasons passing understanding. Pederson’s command mirrored the best that Belichick has offered, with aggressive fourth-down calls and misdirection throughout. 
Nick Foles, who wouldn’t have cracked the top 25 quarterbacks in the league when the season ended, looked every bit the part of a Pro Bowl quarterback in the playoffs. 
So, what does this tell us about conventional wisdom? Do we throw it out? Not quite yet. If there’s a takeaway/poorly conceived metaphor, I think it’s this: Super Bowls aren’t like baking cakes, they’re more like cooking with the best ingredients. 
That is to say, it isn’t about a specific formula, the ingredients concocted in just the right amount and prepared with exactitude at the perfect temperature for a pre-determined time. A Super Bowl champion seems to be more like a great stew or gumbo—the best stand out because the constituent elements are of the highest caliber. 
Philadelphia has a superior roster to New England, and even though the ultimate margin was slim, this superiority is the reason they won. Last July Pederson compared his Eagles to the 1996-97 Packers and the football world—yours truly included—mocked him for it. Turns out he was on to something. 
So what do the Eagles have? Excellent line play on both sides of the ball. Excellent depth and variety at running back. Depth and experience at wide receiver and tight end. A defensive front seven that’s the envy of the league, save a few teams. A defensive back end that’s good but not great. And a system that helps elevate a second-year quarterback to MVP status and a journeyman veteran to a Super Bowl MVP. 
Vegas odds indicate that the Packers aren’t far off—Green Bay opened with 8-1 odds behind only the Patriots (7-2). But is that projection based solely, as it’s seemed to be in the past, on the return of Aaron Rodgers? It’s hard to believe that Vegas interprets the Packers’ front office changes as having a huge impact when we haven’t seen how the pieces will fit. 
But perhaps a positive projection is worth merit. 
Aaron Rodgers said about the Packers’ prospects in the lead-up to the big game, “We need to get back to playing championship defense.” Dom Capers’ firing and Mike Pettine’s hiring, paired with a general manager openly more willing to build through free agency, suggest a defensive turnaround is in the cards in 2018. 
Joe Philbin’s return as offensive coordinator, and the from-the-ground-up rebuild of the playbook suggest some fresh blood for the offense. 
Green Bay also has its highest pick in the draft since the team selected B.J. Raji at ninth overall in 2009. 
There’s hope, and in February that’s a good thing to have. Especially because this hope seems rooted in possibility, rather than simply resting upon the laurels of prime Rodgers to save the day. 
The Packers need to have the best ingredients. That means better players and better assembly of their talents. In the early stages, they’re taking positive steps. And at least we’re left with a little catharsis that the Empire has been defeated Patriots aren’t champions again. 
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (53) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Packer Fan's picture

Pederson made a backup quaterback a Super Bowl MVP. How does that happen? I believe by having well designed plays and then calling a great game. McCarthy should be watching film.

Since '61's picture

Excellent OL play helps. No sacks allowed as an example. Solid running game as well. Thanks, Since '61

Hawg Hanner's picture

Receivers on both teams were getting open. Scary to watch, how do you stop it? Foles made the throws and had the patience.

croatpackfan's picture

Nick Foles played 2 season as starting QB for Philly, before those 5 games, this season. He was above average QB and he just got enough help from OL, RB and WR. You can not help if you have QB who is affraid to throw ther ball and keeps ball up to eternity...

stockholder's picture

Bradys hand was cut.

TommyG's picture

Brady’s cut was a non factor in this game.

dobber's picture

Yep. That was before the Jax game. Unless there was serious tissue damage in the hand, the stitches were out at least a week ago and he's probably unrestricted in his activities.

John Kirk's picture

Brady threw many wobbly passes in that game. I'm used to seeing him throwing frozen ropes. He has one of the tightest spirals I've ever seen but not in SB LII. He threw for 505 yards but his throws still didn't look right. You saw him on sidelines blowing into gloves on both hands. I was shocked Al or Chris or even Michelle never said anything about it. They did show the cut and mentioned Brady didn't like the feel with the pad on. Maybe, he doesn't fumble if his hand is normal?

Arthur Jackson's picture

His balls weren't deflated properly!

TXCHEESE's picture

You need good ingredients, but you still better know how to cook. I believe a large part of DC's downfall, was his belief that if he stopped the run, he would always have the offense behind the chains. In this day and age, teams don't run on first down, unless they are way ahead, or have a crappy QB (see Browns, Bears). I chuckle when people are posting that McCarthy should learn aggressive play calling from Peterson. Peterson called an absolute gem in the NFCC and SB, but he was not aggressive in the divisional round at all, relying on his defense to carry the day.

McCarthy is plenty aggressive calling the plays, when he has his all world QB healthy. No doubt this team needs some upgrades, especially in depth, but they're no further off than 30 other teams at this point of the year.

CheesyTex's picture

Off-season is for dreaming. At least the shake-up gives us something to dream about. Go Pack Go.

Handsback's picture

Don't downplay the Eagle's defense. They won by making NE take field goals early, and of course the last turnover. If the Eagle's defense had been average....think what that score would have been!

Handsback's picture

Forgot to add-on, you make the other team drive the entire length of the field in small gains, not 20, 15 yard gains. If it's a Dline that stonewalls the run and puts the QB in pressure, edge rushers in his face, or CBs that cover until rusher can get to has to be one of those three. Which one is Green Bay close to obtaining?

4thand1's picture

Malcom Butler will be gone for sure in NE, WTF ? He was a hero and was benched? Should the Pack go after him or is there something wrong here?

croatpackfan's picture

I think the wrong would be price....

Packers have Aaron to pay. That leaves less opportunity for big FA signings...

HankScorpio's picture

I'm interested to see the story on Butler's benching. The latest report (from anonymous sources) is that he had the flu, practiced poorly and missed curfew.

Seems awfully odd to bench a starter over that, but dress him anyways, and let him continue to sit as the SB slipped away.

holmesmd's picture

He also may have gotten busted with some weed per another “anonymous” source. I don’t care but the kid can play and would be very good in Pettine’s defense!

dobber's picture

That would be public record, would it not?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Depends on if the team caught or the police. I also read that Butler went to some rappers concert or party on Saturday night, IIRC. John Ross or Roos, maybe?

dobber's picture

Butler claims to have not missed any curfews. He's not talking about other things, but he is (of course) playing the victim to a certain degree...

Packer_Pete's picture

Easy answer: Very far. The Packers don't have the quality of OL or defensive players that the Eagles have. McCarthy may be one of the more aggressive playcallers, but he still calls plays to not lose. Not to win. Overall I think the Packers will have to be lucky to reach the playoffs next season, unless Gutekunst goes out and signs quite a few quality FAs.

Nick Perry's picture

I think they make the playoffs for one reason...Aaron Rodgers (As long as he's healthy). With a new GM in place now hopefully the Packers can add a few more reasons they'll reach the playoffs. Between FA and drafting around the top 3rd of each round the Packers have enough money to sign a FA or two who could make a difference.

I've been leaning towards a WR and TE for example in FA simply because they say how difficult it is for a rookie to learn McCarthy's offense. I'm also of the opinion that just maybe if Gutekunst goes out and is aggressive in Free Agency and shows Rodgers he's willing to do whatever he can to improve the team Cap permitting, that Rodgers might sign for just a little less to allow Gutekunst to stay aggressive.

"McCarthy may be one of the more aggressive playcallers, but he still calls plays to not lose. Not to win."

ALL I could think about when I was watching Nick Foles catch a TD pass on 4th and goal from the one yard line was the NFCCG in Seattle. McCarthy picked kicking FG's BOTH times in the first quarter, the first time they were at the 1 yard line.

You can argue you take the points when in that situation but in both cases for the Packers that was a HUGE win for the Seahawks defense and a letdown for the Packers offense.

dobber's picture

"ALL I could think about when I was watching Nick Foles catch a TD pass on 4th and goal from the one yard line was the NFCCG in Seattle."

All I could think about was how fast Pederson would have to put his house on the market if Foles dropped that pass.

Tundraboy's picture

Spot on NP. Who kicks a field goal when your on the 1? Early on no less. What message does that send to your players?

Spock's picture

Bad example IMHO. Rodgers was practically immobile with the gimp leg and points were points. Hindsight is wonderful, but I think a healthy Arod would have SOUNDLY beaten the Seahawks. You could see many, many, times during the game where Arod wanted to run, but knew he didn't dare because of his injury. Had he been healthy MM would have been calling for TD plays. I truly believe that.

Arthur Jackson's picture

Right on Spock. Seattle's defense was far better and it's offense far worse than what New England presented to the Eagles so logic would dictate the Packers taking the sure thing [FGs] in what would be a low scoring game versus the opposite in the NE/Philly matchup. Adapting to the conditions as it were.

Tundraboy's picture

I see your points, but when your on the 1 in a championship game, you go for it. There were options other than run Lacy into wall or a FG,that didn't involve Rodgers running much.

pooch's picture

Both teams looked extremly well coached,something GreenBay sorely lack this year

croatpackfan's picture

Yeah, it was brilliant D coaching. Those numbers Dom Capers never achieved - 650 yards allowed...

Those 2 D, on Sunday night, allowed together more than 1150 yards and Tom Brady had 505 yards just through air...

Who knows where Eagles would be without their stout and excellent defense...

Doug Niemczynski's picture

But the Eagles made the plays they needed to and when they need to and that is because of the coaching...just like kevin greene said, "it is time" and then boom the best defensive play of the night causing the fumble that the Steelers could not recover from and then we take home the Lombardi Trophy . It only takes one punch for a knockout, but usually it takes a lot of throwing punches to get that 1 punch in and its game over. And it is all because of COACHING!!! And, that is why the Packers have been losing every year since 2010. Its almost time for McCarthy to go as well!

CAG123's picture

I’m going to say this, if they was ever a time to scoop up a talented DB, coming off a so-so year but is capable of more and will be playing with a big chip on his shoulder it’s Malcom Butler after that backhanded stunt BB pulled moments before the SB the guy is going to ball out next year. You’re in the SB and you don’t play arguably your best defensive player and you have safeties covering the slot and a 2nd round bust as the starter? All that was a tactic to drive Butlers free agency bargaining power down especially after coming off a pretty bad showing in the AFCCG. The Packers could snag him without breaking the bank.

dobber's picture

I can't see BB, who is all about winning, tying one hand behind his back that way when the goal is right there in front of him all for the sake of a few $$ in FA. All he would be doing is driving Butler away...would you resign with the Patriots if they pulled that kind of stunt? It had to be other reasons.

The Packers don't have a bank big enough to sign Butler and do much else in FA.

CAG123's picture

I could see it if they knew Butler wasn’t going to resign, I’m willing to bet they offered him a contract this past off season or before and it was a joke so he turned it down only for them to turnaround and give a free agent corner coming from a division rival better money to spite him. I mean it just doesn’t make sense to handicap your already suspect defense by not having one of your best players on the field. I can’t see it being a performance issue because Gilmore looked like crap for the first half of the season and BB never benched him and he’s making the big bucks.

CAG123's picture

Plus the Packers could have over 40 million in cap space by cutting 2 out of 3 of their big earners (Cobb,Nelson,CM3) but I don’t think that would be smart but I’m sure they could get some cap space by restructuring those deals it could probably push them up to the 28-32 million mark. This was a so so year for Butler they might not have to break the bank for him.

dobber's picture

If you make those cuts, though, I think you end up spending every dollar you save just to replace those players...and I'm not sure you come out ahead, just different. I think you're right in that the hope for a little added cap space needs to be in a couple of restructures/extensions.

Handsback's picture

According to one report it was weed and women as the reason...

Arthur Jackson's picture

Bulter is a scrub. OK that is maybe a bit strong but he is average at best, but will be paid a way above average. Not worth it. Gilmore had a far better season than him.

CAG123's picture

He was a top 10 corner in 2016 what are you talking about? Even this year he still graded out in the top 20 none of the Packers corners were even close to that. Butler plays with a big chip on his shoulder and after what B.B. did he will rebound big next year he’s definitely a player the Pack should be eyeing.

Arthur Jackson's picture

No he didn't. He graded out at 51 at pro-football-focus. The guy was always slow but has some instincts. Instincts only overcome lack of speed for so long. He is the exact type of guy the Packers vowed to get away from on defense. sure the season before he was rating 2nd, but Quinten Rollins had great numbers too and how good do you believe he is?

Nick Perry's picture

Two days ago on ESPN Milwaukee Jason Wilde joined Craig and Chewy to discuss the Packers. They discussed Rodgers comments this past week and the "Possible Dysfunction" in the Green Bay Front Office/Organization
Now I'll admit I wasn't able to listen to the entire podcast (31 plus minutes long) what I did listen to raised some interesting questions, especially about Rodgers and the Packers 3 headed FO.

Nick Perry's picture

I'd also like to add for the Packers to get back to the SB I think McCarthy and Rodgers need to lock themselves in a room and hash out whatever differences they have.

EVERYTHING Rodgers says or does is calculated. He knew exactly what the response would be when he spoke about his QB coach not being retained. Forget about the whole players play, coaches coach thing for a minute. Rodgers comment was just another dig at his Head Coach. At this time Rodgers doesn't seem to happy, or at least as happy as one would like to see the man most responsible in determining if the Packers are a 12-4 team or a 4-12 team.

The Packers are 5-12-1 in games where Rodgers was injured since 2013, that's a 306 winning percentage folks so I'd say the writing is on the wall. I think Gutekunst can have a big say in Rodgers attitude moving forward. An aggressive approach to FA. Rodgers future is a huge factor in determining how aggressive they can be. I'll be curious to see how this all plays out. Is Rodgers that hellbent on being the highest paid player in the NFL? Would he be willing to sacrifice just some of that money if Gutekunst showed an aggressive approach this year? Personally I hope it's the 2nd of the two and Rodgers can put ego aside for the greater good.

flackcatcher's picture

Someday McCarthy is going to slap Rodgers publicly for mouthing off. For all the whining Rodgers does, McCarthy is really good about not responding in public. Some of that is Rodgers being a team leader, but lately it seems to me he is just being a jerk and petty. Well, whatever is going on, I hope he can put it aside.

Lphill's picture

Rodgers knows the Packers are wasting Rodgers very simple. I think we see some aggressive activity in free agency and also we draft a defensive player in the first round that can contribute right away . We are headed in the right direction finally .

Tundraboy's picture

Sure as hell hope you're right.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

6 years too late...

worztik's picture

I’m just wondering right now, after reading the article and all of your responses, what do y’all imagine that our record would have been had we had a decent QB behind AROD??? Just askin’...

Charlu19's picture

Ding Ding Ding!!!!! Thank you!!

Bearmeat's picture

I think MM is a good coach, but not a great one. There truly are very few "great/difference making" coaches, just as there are very few "great/difference making" players. Yeah, MM screwed the pooch in January of 2015. But he pushed all the right buttons in 2011..... At any rate, of the three amigos in charge of football operations, I think we got rid of Dom - which needed to happen. And Ted - which was somewhat less obvious, but still needed to happen. I wanted all 3 gone, but if one was going to stay, I'm glad it was Mike and not either of the other two.

As for the Eagles, they were 7-9 last year. They had a fantastic FA period, a good draft, and traded well. We had better personnel than them last year and it wasn't particularly close. Let's not forget that each year is its own in the NFL. We absolutely can (and I'd argue will be likely to) be one of the final 4 next year.

Tundraboy's picture

"I wanted all 3 gone, but if one was going to stay, I'm glad it was Mike and not either of the other two."

Can you even imagine if it was DC who remained, we all would have had a stroke.

Arthur Jackson's picture

Remain calm. The Packers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after next season.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Yeah. Yeah.

And im gonna be the President of the USA

lou's picture

It's any ones guess how far away the Packers are from another Super Bowl but the difference this off season is the urgency level to get back to the Super Bowl has finally escalated per the teams structural and coaching changes, without a doubt, Mike McCarthy has been put on the clock. It is my believe the reporting structure was changed because Murphy believed (as does the Executive Committee) that our new young GM would not have the courage/tenure to fire McCarthy after a poor season and if so have the background to select the new head coach.

Qoojo's picture

Yep, at least they aren't trying the same thing yet again and hoping for different results.

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