Packers Look a Little Too Familiar

What do Browns fans want from their NFL team? This weekend and last, we may have seen the best examples. Green Bay bears a lot of similarities to the one that's beaten the Browns twelve straight times...

Not from the frying pan into the fire, but it's from the fire back into the frying pan for the Browns on Sunday as they get ready to meet Green Bay at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

When it comes to success, continuity and the overall image of the organization, the Packers aren't quite the Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat the Browns again last Sunday, 27-14, but they're right behind them.

Following last Sunday's 26-0 whitewashing of the Detroit Lions, the Packers are 3-2 as they try to rebound from a rarity – a losing season. The 2008 club lost five in a row down the stretch, with four of the defeats being by a combined total of just 14 points, on the way to a 6-10 finish.

In 2007, the last season for the Packers in the Brett Favre era, they were an NFC-best 13-3 and clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs before losing 20-17 to the New York Giants in frigid conditions in the conference championship game.

In the 17-year period from 1992, when Favre arrived in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons, through 2008, the Packers had 13 winning seasons, two losing marks and a pair of .500 finishes. They won seven division titles in the NFC Central and North, made 11 total playoff appearances, got to four NFC Championship Games and went to two Super Bowls, winning one in 1996 when they defeated Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennel and the New England Patriots. It was the Packers' third Super Bowl crown overall, and the first in nearly 30 years.

Since 1992, the Packers have had the best home record in the NFL at 103-36 (.741), topping the Denver Broncos (102-37, .734) and Pittsburgh (101-37-1, .730).

And the Packers, at 14-12, are one of just 12 teams to have a winning road record since 2006.

From 1978 through 2001, when the NFC North came into being, the Packers had the best division record at 100-76-2 (.567) and third-best division mark at 192-1804 (.516).

But it goes well beyond what happens on the field.

In October 2004, the Packers were chosen as the classiest organization in the NFL in a Sports Illustrated poll of 354 players.

This past March, the Packers were second behind the Dallas Cowboys in a study released by the NFL and ESPN Sports Poll to determine the nation's most popular individual pro sports franchises across all sports.

The Packers' home, Lambeau Field, was ranked the top NFL game day experience in a November 2007 Sports Illustrated poll on

At least part of the reason for all this – on and off the field – is continuity within the organization. There's not a lot of change in Green Bay.

Ted Thompson, just the 10th general manager in Packers history dating to when Hall of Famer Curly Lambeau began a 30-year tenure way back in 1919, has been on the job since Jan. 14, 2005, eight days after the Browns hired Phil Savage for the same job. Savage was fired at the end of last season, but Thompson, who previously spent a seven-year stint with the Packers a decade ago, seems entrenched in his job.

Thompson didn't panic when head coach Mike McCarthy went just 8-8 in his first season in 2006, because it was a four-win improvement over what the Packers had done the previous year under Mike Sherman. And Thompson didn't panic, either, when McCarthy's 2007 team fell back four wins from what it had done in '06. He realized all the dust that was stirred up in the Brett Favre saga had derailed any chance the team had for success, and, once that had settled, he firmly believed that it would be back to the business of winning for the Packers. And that has exactly been the case.

The Packers hire good coaches who do a good job. Including McCarthy, none of the team's last four head coaches has a losing record, and that includes the so-called "forgettable" 1999 season when Green Bay had a "horrible" 8-8 record in Ray Rhodes' only year on the job. The quartet has combined for a 182-117 record (.544).

It's like the saying you see on the practice fields of some high schools and colleges, "Tradition doesn't graduate." With the Packers and other successful NFL teams, it's, "Tradition doesn't leave in free agency, or through trades, or for a supposedly better job."

It's a cliché, but it's really true in that the Packers, like the Steelers, don't rebuild. Rather, they just reload.

And the Packers will be taking dead aim at the Browns on Sunday, just like the Steelers did the week before.

In playing those two teams back to back, head coach Eric Mangini and his club are getting a glimpse of what they want to be.

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