After a 15-1 season that ended in a divisional-round loss to the Giants, the Packers have high expectations for 2012.
And that’s fine with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Because Rodgers thinks the Packers actually will be improved.
“We’re going to be a better team this year,” Rodgers told reporters on Monday, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. “We’re going to play better. We’ll be better up front [on defense], I think. Different attitude, I think. We brought in some guys with some nasty to them.”
Rodgers isn’t saying that means the team will win 15 or even 16 games, but that they’ll be “more sound” when it counts.
“I think there was a little bit of some too-comfortable mentality,” Rodgers said. “One of the things that winning does is it masks some of the issues you might have. When you have a real successful season, the little things get swept under the rug and the big things become little things. It’s hard to knock a team on energy and enthusiasm and effort when you’re still going out and winning. But it can catch up to you at some point, and it did with us.”
It did because the Packers had trouble tackling last year. And generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. And they relied too much on Rodgers to save their bacon. And then when they found themselves on the wrong end of a home playoff game against the Giants, the flaws that nevertheless allowed them to lose only one game during the season prevented them from winning the one game that meant more than any other.
Rodgers’ remarks arguably could be interpreted as a slap at last year’s defense, which could be a problem since plenty of those players are back. We (or at least I) view Rodgers’ words as realistic and aspirational.
The best team during the 2011 regular season can still get a lot better. And if the defense improves, it will. And in the end the Packers could have their second Super Bowl win in three years.