The National Football League Conference champions have been determined. The New England Patriots will represent the American Conference and the New York Giants will represent the National Conference in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on February 5, 2012. I have gotten over my sulking mood following the Green Bay Packers’ demise last week against the Giants, having now entered the phase of disbelief and soon approaching acceptance.
In watching the conference championship games this past weekend, it occurred to me how much faster all of the advancing playoff teams played as opposed to the plodding and stumbling pace the Packers displayed against the Giants. I can’t put my finger on the exact cause for the Green and Gold funk in the Giants game, but just maybe the hubbub regarding the Packer management/coaching uncertainties had something to do with it.
Major changes have and maybe will be taking place in the Packers’ front office and among the coaching staff. Reggie McKenzie, former Packer Director of Football Operations since 1994, was hired as the General Manager of the Oakland Raiders on January 5, 2012, ten days before the Packers rolled over to the Giants. A story has emerged that McKenzie interviewed Winston Moss, the Packers’ inside linebacker and assistant head coach, for the Raiders’ head coach position on January 14, one day before the Packer-Giants game. In addition, former Packer Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin was hired as the Miami Dolphins’ head coach on January 21. Philbin first interviewed for the Dolphin job on January 7, eight days before the Packer-Giants game. While these meddlings into Packer management’s personnel probably are within league rules, they may have poisoned the atmosphere when the Packers got around to playing the Giants. Something just doesn’t seem right here.
If that isn’t enough, both Philbin and McKenzie are reportedly considering hiring other current Packer coaches, possibly Dom Capers, Edgar Bennett or Tom Clements to their respective coaching staffs. When a team is as successful as the Packers have been for the past two years, rebuilding teams naturally have an interest in raiding their coaching staff, so this sort of activity is normal and to be expected. Still, it presents the Packers with new challenges to replace the outgoing personnel.
Both of the conference championship games were exciting, close battles. Lots of reckless abandon flying around the football field which is as it should be. That style of play reminded me of how the Packers let it all hang out last year. Super Bowl XLVI will be a repeat of the teams that met in the 2008 Super Bowl in a game won by the Giants by a score of 17 – 14. I see the offenses of these squads about equal with the advantage on defense going to the Giants. The Packer Partisan calls it 28 – 27, Giants.