All the talk recently regarding the Dallas Cowboys and their “window” to win the Super Bowl with Tony Romo got me thinking. Just how big is the Packers’ window? Coming off a Super Bowl win two years ago and the best team in the league until the playoffs last year, the Packers appear to be sitting pretty. But are they really?
With the league MVP at quarterback, the Packers’ offense is appears set for the long term. Aaron Rodgers is midway through what should be a Hall of Fame career so that automatically gives your window another 5-10 years. So starting with that as your base the question is can the Packers keep that offense firing on all cylinders while not neglecting the defense. Arguably Ted Thompson’s biggest weakness has been his inability to build a solid defense, one that has the core players to be good from year to year.
Thompson’s mentor, Ron Wolf, was never able to do it either. The Packers were supposed to be a dynasty after winning Super Bowl 31 and repeating as NFC Champs the following year. But a funny thing happened, the Broncos whipped the Packers in Super Bowl 32, Mike Holmgren left town and Brett Favre couldn’t win a playoff game if his life depended on it. By the time the Packers got back to the NFC Championship game Favre was over the hill and itching to get out of Green Bay.
In recent years Thompson has loaded the offense with players like Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson, James Starks and Randall Cobb. But only Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and B.J. Raji stand out on a defense that was the NFL’s worst last year. By taking defensive players with his first six picks in the draft this year, it is clear Thompson realizes there is a problem.
I think the Packers will field a better defense this year for sure, but the long term is anybody’s guess based on Thompson’s history. I think the most pressure is on first round pick Nick Perry, if he busts the Packers will be in a world of hurt. Only slightly less important is Jerel Worthy. The Packers’ 3-4 defense depends on those three down lineman and the Packers simply did not have three that could play last year.
So with all that in mind, I think the Packers have their best chance to win another Super Bowl in the next two years, but I think they should be in contention for another five. After that I think as long as Rodgers continues to play at a high level they will be like the Packers of the early 2000’s, in contention for the playoffs but not really the Super Bowl.
I just can’t see Mike McCarthy and Thompson lasting much longer than that. I could easily see McCarthy calling it a day at a relatively young age like Bill Cowher did in McCarthy’s home town of Pittsburgh. I would be shocked if Thompson lasts five years. It’s just a hunch, but I could see him stepping down in the next year or so.
This regime really needs that second Super Bowl to separate it from the pack. Nobody will ever win five championships in seven years like Lombardi did, not here, not anywhere, but getting two would put McCarthy no lower than third on the Packers’ all-time coaching list. And Thompson and Rodgers would be able to do the one thing their predecessors were unable to do – get that second ring.
I hope they get it this year, anything after that would then be gravy.
By the way, Happy Birthday Vince!