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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

Fans have a right to be cranky. They pay for the right to be demanding. (Photo: Mike Clemens)

In Sports Commentary

What do Ron Roenicke and Aaron Rodgers have in common? Each had a pretty good 2011, for one. (Photo: Steve Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers)

Is one loss the end of the world? Sure, why not?


Sports can be a fickle mistress sometimes.

We love our games. We love our teams. They just tend to frustrate us from time to time.

Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field, the Packers lost their first season opener since 2006 by getting dominated in almost every phase of the game by the upstart San Francisco 49ers, who are every bit the legitimate contender they were one year ago.

Tuesday night at Miller Park, the Brewers shut out the Atlanta Braves 5-0 to climb back to the .500 mark for the first time since April 24.

Fans have expectations. This is a good thing. Expectations raise the bar and do not allow for absence of effort. Of course, results are never a guarantee; but without accountability to the real bosses would lead to apathy. Apathy is the enemy.

Thankfully, apathy is in very short supply when it comes to our teams. And while this can be frustrating and even annoying to the powers-that-be in our team's respective front offices, at the end of the day it is what drives us to listen to sports talk radio, tune into pre- and post-game shows, have Packers parties, cook out at Miller Park and even read this column.

We'll start with the Packers. Two years ago, they took all of us on a magical ride that ended with the hoisting of a Lombardi Trophy. For a NFL-record 13th time, our team was the best in the league.

Except that it wasn't.

Oh, I know that the record book says it was by virtue of being the last team standing, but after losing to the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 the eventual Super Bowl Champions were a quite pedestrian 3-3. After losing to the New England Patriots after their 14th game, they were a slightly better than mediocre 8-6.

How many 8-6 teams do you think are the best in football?

By virtue of results proven out over the course of the regular season, the evidence of the best team in 2010 was either the Patriots (14-2) or the Falcons (13-3).

But this isn't how we measure ultimate success. Championships are.

Likewise, last season the Packers followed up their Super Bowl title with a thrilling 15-1 campaign that ended in a thud to the Giants in the playoffs.

Of course, the Packers lost that game the same way they lost to the 49ers on Sunday; with the inability to defend when it mattered and a lack of plays on offense to make up the difference.

My point is not to tell you what you already know. My point is to say that all of the criticisms of the Packers and all of the vitriol heaped upon them by angry fans over the last three days is quite valid, and even the just and proper reaction.

No, the Packers are not a terrible football team. But they do have some concerning holes that need to be addressed. And while the Packers were, record-wise, the best team in football last season, they were far from the most complete squad.

Last season, Aaron Rodgers' other-worldly campaign bailed out what was a terrible season for the defense. Last year the Packers couldn't touch the quarterback, got mediocre play from top 10 draft picks A.J. Hawk and B.J. Raji, and never came close to replacing safety Nick Collins.

Sound familiar?

Yes, Sunday was only one game. But hardly anyone could have been shocked at the final outcome if you knew the personnel from both clubs. The fact of the matter is that the Packers lived a very charmed existence in the calendar year 2011.

2012 already has not been nearly as kind to the team from Titletown. And while one loss is not cause for concern, surrendering 186 yards on the ground to San Francisco is. Allowing the 49ers to march into the end zone on drives of 92 and 84 yards is too.

No, Rodgers terrible interception in crunch time did not help, but that was more of an aberration. What is not an aberration is Green Bay's defense. It isn't good, and that is cause for concern. It is also license for Packers fans to demand better. After all, that is what good, passionate fans do.

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Talkbacks

TosaJim | Sept. 12, 2012 at 3:16 p.m. (report)

Not to worry yet....until you start hearing people talking about the 2013 Brewers...then it's time to panic. :)

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