As the Green Bay Packers were able to secure their 11th victory of the season in Week 15, their 24-16 win over the struggling Carolina Panthers was a tale of two halves, as it has been in pretty much every single game of Green Bay’s season so far.
Coming out strong in the first half (as most GB wins have), head coach Matt LaFleur was able to orchestrate a beautiful offensive attack in the first half, keeping the below-average Panthers defense on their heels with a beautiful mix of run and pass. Not relying too heavily on Aaron Rodgers, their reliance on the run game, pretty much just Aaron Jones, is what helped get them out to a 21-3 lead at the half.
But coming out of half, their offensive performance seemed to hit a brick wall, as they only produced a lone field goal in the fourth quarter to help hold off Carolina.
The biggest difference between the two halves was the lack of protection that Rodgers got in the second half, as Lucas Patrick regularly had his lunch taken from him by rookie DT Derrick Brown, and Brian Burns was giving David Bakhtiari fits, as he used great bends around the corner to get underneath Bakhtiari’s hands to frustrate Rodgers.
A below-average defensive front ended up giving the above-average Green Bay OL fits is not a great takeaway from this game, but the Panthers were able to involve a rejuvenated play-calling by DC Phil Snow in the second half, ultimately helping keep the game close.
Regardless of the ineptitude of the Packers in the second half, their 11th win of the year came in the same week that the New Orleans Saints (to the Chiefs) and Los Angeles Rams (to the Jets) both lost, while both the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers squeaked out close wins in games that certainly did nothing to help boost how they’ve looked this year.
But the fact that playoff-likely squads have all struggled at random times this season shows that nothing is given and everything can change on a dime, so with Green Bay having struggled in a matchup that looked to be very one-sided going into half time is not necessarily a concerning element.
This team has consistently gotten out to first-half leads, only to see those double-digit differences dwindle to one-possession leads, which obviously are not great outcomes. But, they have been able to grind out 11 wins in 14 chances so far, and you will take those numbers every single day of the week (and twice on Sundays) with a second-year HC at the helm.
Freaking out about wins that are closer than they should end up being is a very unhealthy practice and one that will turn a fan base against itself very quickly – Packers Twitter, more often than not, is a very toxic environment, boasting an above-average amount of users focusing on the slight deficiencies from a winning game than basking in the victory and moving onto the following week.
Backseat analysis is something most casual fans love to provide, and while that helps provide platforms for people to voice their opinions on, it more often than not leads to colorful discussions about elements of players/coaches/team performance that do not provide helpful insights on the positives.
Focusing on the negatives of this team’s performance will lead to fans clamoring about past draft class disappointments, unfortunate on-field results, and just general team disappointment, while forgetting about how far this team has come and what LaFleur has done through the first season-plus of his time leading this team.
Having locked up the NFC North division and jumped up to a full-game advantage for their hold on the top seed in the NFC playoffs, Green Bay has put together another strong season up to this point, on the back of an MVP caliber season by Rodgers and surging defense that seems to be hitting its stride ever since Thanksgiving.
Let’s try to enjoy that at this point instead of always looking to critique elements of this team – we are very fortunate as a franchise to have had this type of sustained success, so focus on that and enjoy it.
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23