Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Coping With Defeat

Now, you really didn’t think the Pack was going to finish 16-0, did you?

Even so, watching the third and fourth quarters of the game vs. the Bears was like enduring slow, painful torture. Even consumption of a tasty anesthetic lager didn’t seem to ease the suffering. And it was a strange, almost surreal sensation when the game ended, as though the numbers on the scoreboard had somehow been transposed to make it appear as though--NO!--we lost.

In times like these it’s helpful to step back and examine the situation with a fresh perspective. Here are some positive things that happened Sunday night.

Continuing to Build Team Chemistry. The game defined the term “team effort.” When rookie sensation James Jones fumbled away scoring opportunities not once, but twice, on other teams he might have encountered cold stares and even harsh words from his teammates when he got to the sideline. Not our Packers. Perhaps worried that the promising young player might go into a irreversible funk, veteran stalwarts like Brett Favre and Charles Woodson made a couple of foolish, ill-timed errors of their own, an interception and a fumbled punt, so their teammate would not feel isolated. This kind of unselfishness is what builds a championship mentality.

Discovering a New Frontier of Play Calling. There was something very unusual at the start of that game that clearly bodes well for the future. I’ve heard it originated in a mid-week strategy meeting between the Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator. The Coordinator had noticed that when the Packers were on offense, it appeared there were several players standing next to Brett, looking eager but perhaps a bit left out of the action. He mentioned to the Head Coach that these players didn’t seem to have much to do during the course of the play. “Any ideas?” he inquired of his boss, who thought carefully and then remarked, “We could have Brett hand the ball to these guys once in a while. And they could… run with it.”

“What a great idea!” the Coordinator exclaimed. “The other team will never expect it.”

“That’s why I get paid the Big Bucks,” said the Head Coach.

Helping Those in Need. You always get a warm, fuzzy feeling inside when you reach out to someone who’s going through hard times. So, at least for one night, we made the Bears fans happy, let them again experience the joy of winning on national TV. Most of us have friends or colleagues who are fans of our rivals from Chicago. We’ve felt their pain and desperation as they sank to 1-3 on the season (while we tried hard not to giggle). And with true Green and Gold generosity, we helped them rise above their struggles and experience what we’ve been enjoying for eight consecutive games. Packer fans are truly amazing people.

Guarding Against Overconfidence. Every year it seems there is a team that sprints out to a 5-0 or 6-0 start, then fades in November and December, and exits the playoffs after the first game. The cause of these late-season collapses is often simply overconfidence: the players get the erroneous notion they are invincible, start to relax, and forget the hard work--and lucky breaks--that enabled them to start off so well. The Packers were far too clever to fall into this trap. They knew that a bitter loss like the one they suffered on Sunday night could serve to keep them hungry, focused and motivated. They can come out fresh in the next game vs. Washington, without that heavy burden of having to keep a winning streak going.

Staying Right on Track. Let’s not forget how far above expectations this team has performed in the first five weeks, reversing the trend of dismal 1-4 starts the last few seasons. If we look at the Packers’ last three championship teams, here’s how they began the year:

1996 4 Wins, 1 Loss

1967 3 Wins, 1 Loss, 1 Tie

1966 4 Wins, 1 Loss

Feel better?

1 comment:

Natureman said...

I can cope with defeat when the Pack is clearly outplayed or they do their best but still lose but the Bears loss was rediculous because as a team they did their best to give the game away. Between turnovers, penalties and stupid play calling I have never seen a team work so hard to give a game away. No I don't think the Pack will go 16-0 especially without a running game that the management failed to address during the off season.