Getting to the Playoffs shouldn’t be good enough for the Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers helmet

Green Bay Packer fans have been incredibly lucky to have the type of quarterback stability that most organizations can only dream of. Teams such as the Browns, Bills and Dolphins have spent years mired in mediocrity or worse due to their inability to find a franchise quarterback.

Since 1993, Brett Favre’s first full season as quarterback for the Packers, they have only missed the Playoffs five times, four times under Favre and once under Rodgers. And they have only been below .500 twice, once under Favre and once under Rodgers.

But are Packer fans greedy for expecting more?

With Favre behind center, the Packers won a championship and went to another, but his later years were filled with crushing postseason defeats. Many of those defeats were on Favre, but Ron Wolf has always said he regrets not surrounding Favre with more weapons.

Currently the Packers have the longest active playoff streak in the NFC with five straight appearances, which is great, but that should be expected with an elite level quarterback like Rodgers at the helm. Since 2002, the Tom Brady lead Patriots have only missed the playoffs in 2008, the year Brady was injured in the opening game. And Peyton Manning led teams have also not missed the playoffs since 2002, with the exception of 2011, the year Manning sat out with a neck injury.

There is no denying the Packers’ 2010 run was amazing, three playoff road victories that culminated with a fourth Lombardi Trophy. But the other four post season appearances have been huge let downs. 2009 and 2011 saw the Packers’ defense humiliated. In 2012, despite having one of the worst defenses in the league, the Packers went 15-1,  but were beaten in every way imaginable by the Giants in the divisional round. And this past season, the Packers were beaten at home by a 49ers team that was just better.

While Rodgers didn’t play at the elite level that is expected of him during some of the playoff losses, the teams around him did not do him any favors.

Assuming he stays healthy, with Rodgers just turning 30 in December, the Packers still have a window of at least five years to win another championship, but the Packers as an organization can no longer be content with making the playoffs and hoping that they get hot at the right time. Teams like the Seahawks and 49ers are better and more well rounded. While teams like the Saints and Panthers don’t appear to be far behind.

With the draft a few months away, Ted Thompson will have to do what he has been unable to do with his last few drafts, and that is find impact players, especially on defense side of the ball, who can stay healthy. Whether that means trading up in the draft to target a difference maker, or trading down in the draft so they have more shots at finding an impact player in this very deep draft pool.

Obviously the draft is not the only way to improve the Packers. With free agency just a couple weeks away and the Packers having around $30 million in cap space, what Thompson will or will not do during free agency has been the subject of much conjecture during this offseason. While I don’t see the Packers being huge players in free agency, I think adding some quality depth could really help this team down the stretch when the inevitable injuries start to take their toll.

Winning a championship is not easy, but in Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have a quarterback capable of winning multiple. And to not surround him with the talent needed to compete at the highest level would be doing a great disservice, not only to Rodgers, but the Packers organization, and their fans.

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Ian Hanley is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @Ian_M_Hanley.

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