Are Packers feeling the heat?
The Wisconsin State Journal
GREEN BAY — Martellus Bennett has looked at the Green Bay Packers from both sides now.
From Chicago, where the Bears failed to make the playoffs during his three years with the Packers’ NFC North Division rivals. And from New England, where he won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last season.
Now that he’s in Green Bay, the veteran tight end offered this assessment of his new team.
“There’s a couple teams in the league that you look at and you feel are really good contenders every single year,” Bennett said Thursday after the first practice of training camp. “The Packers have always been one of those.”
Apparently, that’s not enough for some Packers fans.
Team president Mark Murphy acknowledged this week a portion of the fan base is unhappy with general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy because the Packers haven’t been back to the Super Bowl since the 2010 team won it all.
Murphy said he’s heard from “a lot of fans that they’re disappointed that I’ve accepted mediocrity and I’m just happy to be in the playoffs.”
In a way, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the reason for the fans’ frustration. If he wasn’t so good, the Packers’ consistency — they’ve made the playoffs eight years in a row — might be viewed in a different light. Instead, years of playoff failures have some fans believing the Packers have grossly underachieved.
That’s an overstatement, of course, but even Rodgers agrees that winning one Super Bowl in his nine seasons as the starter isn’t good enough.
“We’ve been to the playoffs eight straight years, which is an accomplishment,” he said. “But you want more titles.”
Still, chastising the Packers for accepting mediocrity is not a sentiment the face of the franchise is willing to accept.
A portion of the blame, on the other hand, he will accept.
“I don’t really agree with the fans’ letters and calls,” Rodgers said. “I think we as players have got to take ownership of it and play better and finish this thing off.
“We have nobody to blame but ourselves for some of the postseason losses, and a lot of that is out of our control. We’re in here, we have a job to do, that’s to prepare and perform. The personnel department’s (job) is to bring in players. Coach’s (job) is to teach and demand.
“We’ve got to do our part, everybody does their part and that’s how you put yourself in that position to win a championship, and we have to do it again this year.”
By any measure, the Packers have the team to make it nine straight playoff appearances. Thompson made a deeper foray than usual into free agency to plug holes and add offensive weapons. He also used the first four draft picks to infuse speed into the defense, which looked helpless in Green Bay’s loss to Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game.
But as much as the fans feel the frustration of losing every January, the players do, too.
Linebacker Clay Matthews was mildly irritated when asked whether frustration over the Super Bowl drought was building in the locker room.
“Obviously, that’s what we strive for each and every year,” he said. “We’re obviously disappointed when we come up short, no doubt about it. But we try not to let it and I think we do a good job of not letting outside influences try and tear the locker room apart, whether it’s talk of certain players or schemes or coaches or whatnot.
“We know we’re right on the precipice of being in a Super Bowl each and every year. It’s just about winning those games, which is frustrating at times but I don’t think it creeps into this locker room. I think we just regroup at the end of the year and then focus on the new year, which is 2017.
“We know we’ve got a good team and now it’s about putting it together in hopes of getting back to the NFC championship and winning.”
That’s the only thing that would appease those fans who have been spoiled by the Packers’ quarterback-fueled success over the past 25 years.
Not even the late-season eight-game winning streak that carried Green Bay to the NFC title game satisfied them.
As with anything, you can look at that two ways.
“The first way I always look at it is we expect a certain level from ourselves and that’s to get to the end goal every year,” tackle Bryan Bulaga said. “We feel we have the guys and the talent to get there every year. But it’s a difficult league.
“... In the same breath, when you do reflect on the year, especially last year, I’m pretty sure everyone wrote us off. What were we, 4-6 going to (Philadelphia) against a top-five defense? I’m sure everyone probably wrote us off at that point. And what we were able to do and rattle off all those games in a row and get to the championship game, knowing how hard it is to do that, you’re proud of the accomplishment. It’s not good enough, but you’re proud of the accomplishment.
“I understand people getting upset when we don’t make it to the final game. Believe me, there’s no one more upset about that than us.
“... The end goal is the same for us every year. Failure is a big word and it’s a tough word. But if we don’t get there, that’s kind of the way we look at it.”
So call the Packers failures if you want, just don’t accuse them of accepting failure.
— Copyright (c) 2017, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.