It’s been a tough eight months for fans of the Green Bay Packers.
Packer backers have been given very little to shout about since their last win against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs back in January, and their stinker on opening day versus the Saints did nothing to change that.
Both on and off the field, Packers fans have been put through the wringer for the entire of 2021 so far, and on Monday Night Football against the Detroit Lions, Matt LaFleur’s team need to give their fans something to lift the mood.
Green Bay’s period of tumult began with yet another crushing loss in the NFC Championship game, as they once again came up just short of a Super Bowl appearance. But hope springs eternal in the offseason, right?
Not so much in Titletown, as a quiet free agency period saw no big additions made to the Packers’ roster, with GM Brian Gutekunst instead opting to bring almost everyone back, even the players some fans were hoping to see the back of.
But of course, most logical observers knew Green Bay would not be big players in free agency due to the salary cap challenges they faced. At least Packers fans could look forward to the draft… or so they thought.
Yes, even the purest of days in the offseason schedule, night one of the NFL draft was tainted by the sudden news that reigning MVP QB Aaron Rodgers wanted out of town, leaving fans concerned and confused when they should have been full of positivity.
Then came the months of mostly silence, as everyone waited to see whether Rodgers would return, clinging to and dissecting his every word during offseason media appearances. Packers supporters were unsure whether they would even get to see this uber talented team make one more run at a title.
I understand that these are very much uptown problems, and fans of most other NFL teams would swap places with Packers fans in a heartbeat. Ultimately as the season arrived, those of a green and gold persuasion knew their team was a true Super Bowl contender, but the need for catharsis after an exhausting offseason via a strong performance against New Orleans was very real, and it didn’t come.
Even in defeat, most NFL games provide fans with at least some moments to rejoice and get excited about. There was literally nothing to enjoy from Sunday’s game, not even one measly touchdown.
The Randall Cobb trade made very little sense as anything other than a move to placate Rodgers, but at least it would be special to see Cobb suit up for Green Bay again. He was nowhere to be seen in Jacksonville, finally catching a pass only once 12 had been removed from the game. Considering Rodgers spent most of the game providing flashbacks to the Mike McCarthy offense, it made even less sense that his trusted receiver wasn’t out there to help during the inevitable scramble drill.
Amari Rodgers was also barely on the field, and the dynamic duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon were also criminally underutilized.
The Packers’ only big defensive play, a Darnell Savage interception caused by a Za’Darius Smith pressure, was ruled out by a truly baffling roughing the passer penalty.
It was an embarrassing performance from the Packers. Fans can excuse players who give their all and just come up short, but there is nothing more demoralizing than watching a team who simply doesn’t want it.
Which brings us to Monday night, as Dan Campbell’s kneecap biting Detroit Lions come to Green Bay for the home opener at Lambeau Field. There’s no doubt that the Packers are the more talented team, but the Lions tend to keep these games close and showed no quit against the 49ers last week, almost pulling off a miracle comeback.
More than just the expected victory in this prime-time matchup, the Packers need to give their fans an enjoyable and stress-free night at Lambeau. Lord knows, they’ve earned it.
Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW.