Just call the NFL’s postseason the football version of musical chairs.
Incredibly, at least five teams made the postseason after missing it the previous year in 18 of the past 19 seasons.
That makes the Green Bay Packers’ sustained success all the more remarkable.
The NFL might as well have Robin Hood as its commissioner. Bad teams get good. Because of the salary cap, those good teams can’t retain all of their top players when they reach free agency. Often, those free agents sign with bad teams with oodles of cap space. And the cycle repeats itself, with the have-nots taking from the haves.
The Packers have avoided that yo-yoing up and down the standings. Quality players have left — Tramon Williams and Davon House being the latest — but Russ Ball has done an excellent job keeping the Packers’ financial house in order. He’s been able to retain stars like Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga, even with enormous financial investments in Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. General manager Ted Thompson hasn’t been perfect but he’s done a good job in continually filling in the holes with his draft-and-develop way of building a roster.
Only the Packers and Patriots have qualified for the playoffs in each of the past six seasons. No other NFC team has made it to the playoffs more than four times. The six-year streak matches the franchise record (1993 through 1998), set with Brett Favre at quarterback and Mike Holmgren as coach.
With Rodgers, the Packers are a perennial contender — no different than the Patriots with Tom Brady. It’s not just Rodgers’ talent but how the offense has grown around his intelligence and experience.
“He's in such a comfortable place on the football field,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “The guy loves to compete. He’s obviously a great player, but also he’s an excellent teacher. He’s a very good communicator. He’s a big part in how we run our offense. I can go back to the first day that we all arrived here. This offense is about making the quarterback successful. You start that with a good run game and build on from there and there. So, he’s a huge part of how we operate on offense, but it’s not only Aaron too, which is refreshing. I mean, we have a very, very good veteran base here. Probably could be our best veteran base for our football team. We’re leaning on each other and doing everything we can to get better.”
With stability at the top of the franchise with Thompson, McCarthy and President Mark Murphy, and with the tremendous investment made in Lambeau Field and surrounding facilities, the Packers have been able to keep most of their top free agents. That’s given Rodgers an enviable supporting cast.
“I think our players like playing in Green Bay, for a bunch of different reasons,” McCarthy said. “No. 1, it’s the Green Bay Packers – the tradition, history, the resources that we have to be successful. I think the way they’re treated on a daily basis. I’d like to think they really appreciate the coaching that they get. So, they see the opportunity to improve every single day. And at the end of the day, they want to win championships.”
Playoff berths since 2009
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.