On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at:
The season-ending loss to the 49ers in the divisional round was disappointing, especially given that we outplayed them for most of the game. We led by seven points going into the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold the lead. Give the 49ers credit, though, they made the plays in the end to win the game, as they did in the NFC Championship Game against the Lions.
As disappointing as the loss was, I still think the overall season was a success. We were a very young team (youngest in the league) and came into the season with a lot of question marks. The biggest question was how Jordan Love would perform in his first year as a starter. While Jordan (and the team) was inconsistent in the first half of the season, he finished the season playing at a very high level. We feel confident that Jordan is our quarterback of the future.
We were the youngest team to win a playoff game since the NFL-AFL merger. It was exciting to see our team come together as the season progressed. It is a real tribute to our coaches and players that we were able to turn our season around. I think Matt LaFleur did his best job coaching this year. While nothing is guaranteed, I do think the team learned a lot from our playoff experience this year, and that the future is bright.
Now on to your questions.
Jon from Beaver Dam, WI
I was surprised to see that the Packers didn't have a single player voted to the Pro Bowl. How do you explain this?
Thanks for raising this issue, Jon. I was disappointed, but not surprised that we got shut out of the Pro Bowl. As noted above, we were a very young team, and many of our players were not well known to voters. Players, in particular, often vote for other players based on their reputations. We used to say that players have to play at a Pro Bowl level for a couple years before they get voted in. There were four teams that did not have any players voted on to the Pro Bowl – the other three were the three teams with the worst records in the league. It's a tribute to our coaches that we had so much success with such a young team. Kenny Clark will play in the Pro Bowl as a replacement for San Francisco's Javon Hargrave. Also, Keisean Nixon was named as the returner on the All-Pro Team.
A question from Thomas
Since you were once an All-Pro player and Super Bowl winner, you experienced a first year as a starter on defense in the NFL. What do you think are the two or three lessons our players have learned this year, regular season or playoffs? I always enjoy your perspective as a former player who achieved great success and understands the path these players are on. Thanks for all you do!
Great question, Thomas. It was quite a few years ago, but I do remember my first year as a starter in 1979 with the Redskins. I was very fortunate to have a Hall of Famer in Kenny Houston as my fellow safety. I was able to learn so much from him, both on and off the field. Also, as a first-year starter, you are going to make mistakes. The most important thing is to learn from them and not repeat them. Finally, I learned the importance of film study. Watching film of the upcoming opponent, you can identify patterns and tips to help you anticipate plays. My position coach, Richie Petitbon, (he was also our defensive coordinator and a great safety in the league) was a big help in learning how to watch film. You often hear players say this, but I really did feel that the game slowed down for me as I became more experienced.
Justin M. from Tucson, AZ
I am emailing today to express my disappointment and dissatisfaction with the franchise and its direction during your tenure as CEO. I believe it is long overdue for you to retire and give control of the organization to someone else who is more properly prepared to take the team into the future.
Your leadership has been inept. You do not deserve to lead such a storied franchise. Please disappear into retirement ether. Nobody likes you. You have never been a good executive. I wish you the worst in your twilight years.
Thanks for sharing your opinion, Justin. I also appreciate the 11 other emails you've recently sent with similar suggestions. I get your point. You will be pleased to know that I am required to retire in July 2025 under our by-laws.
Rob P. from Allouez
I'm learning more about Jeff Hafley and excited to see how he does as DC. I'm wondering who made the final decision in the hiring of him?
Good question, Rob. While Matt LaFleur received input from Brian Gutekunst, myself and others, he has full control over his coaching staff and made the final decision. I was very impressed with the way Matt conducted the search. We interviewed many candidates, both by Zoom and in person, and Jeff rose to the top. His work both in the NFL and at Boston College was impressive. Although Matt and Jeff have never coached together, they have many mutual acquaintances who spoke highly of Jeff. Also, my roommate on the Redskins, Pete Cronan, a Boston College alumnus and the longtime radio voice of Boston College football, was very impressed with Jeff and the work he did at Boston College.
Mike from Cascade, ID
Have you or BG ever considered writing an article about what went on in the background leading up to the decision to draft Jordan Love? I would think that there were some interesting conversations going on and would suspect that not everyone involved were buying into it. I'm happy to see that all the naysayers are eating crow and singing your praises! How does it feel being a genius?
I think this may have to wait until Brian retires, Mike. We don't want to give up any trade secrets! I do give Brian (and his team) tremendous credit for having the courage of his convictions in drafting Jordan Love. They did their research on Jordan and knew that he had excellent potential. Jordan's draft year was in the middle of COVID, so things were very different. I remember Brian letting me know that we were going to trade up to pick Jordan. I knew that we had him rated highly and was impressed with the process that Brian and his staff had followed. I know we were criticized for the pick at the time, but Brian felt strongly that it would be a good pick in the long-term.