[size=18]Kawakami: Green Bay Packers have all the makings of a dynasty
By Tim Kawakami
Mercury News Columnist
San Jose Mercury News
Posted:02/07/2011 04:42:32 AM PST
[img_r]http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site568/2011/0207/20110207__superbowl4~3_VIEWER.JPG[/img_r]The Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV on Sunday and might keep winning titles for a little while, maybe for a long while.
Maybe two in a row by next February, if there is labor peace and a season.
Maybe three for three by Super Bowl XLVII. Maybe four out of five.
Yes, I think the Packers are more solidly set up for a dynastic display than
any team since the New England Patriots of the early 2000s.
And I think the Packers might be able to extend their success longer than New England's run of three championships in four seasons.
First, let's get to their interesting 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday.
The Packers surely weren't dominant -- they bolted to a 21-3 lead, then almost let Pittsburgh come all the way back -- but Green Bay was good enough.
The Packers made errors, but they forced a tough Steelers team into many more of their own.
Green Bay lost cornerback Charles Woodson and receiver Donald Driver to injury during the game but held it together at the end.
Green Bay could have succumbed to a Pittsburgh team that has its own claim to a mini-dynasty, and Green Bay prevailed.
Those are all signs. Those things tell us that Green Bay is not likely to be a one-Supe wonder. They are indicators that the Packers probably won't peak for another year or two.
The Packers won this game because they were more talented than Pittsburgh, because they had the deeper roster, because the time was right, and because of one gigantic factor:
Green Bay has quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw three touchdown passes, zero interceptions, won the MVP and burnished his case as the league's most important, and possibly best, player.
Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger was the QB who came into this game with two previous Super Bowl victories. But he ended up throwing two interceptions and was far from cool and precise at the desperate end.
Rodgers was better Sunday. He will be better than Roethlisberger -- again, one of the NFL's biggest winners -- for the rest of their careers.
Oh, and Rodgers is 27 and just completed only his third full season in the NFL, after sitting for three seasons behind Brett Favre.
So the Packers are set at QB for the long term. Check.
The Packers have a defense packed with young talent, as evidenced by linebacker Clay Matthews Jr.'s pivotal hit on Rashard Mendenhall in the fourth quarter that forced a fumble. Double-check.
The Packers have a tough, imaginative young coach, Mike McCarthy, who seems well-built for the long haul. Triple-check.
And the Packers have a management team, keyed by general manager Ted Thompson, that has proved it can find gems in the draft and via free agency. Check.
In fact, Green Bay won the title this season with some emergency fill-ins in big roles, after injuries blew out their running game and parts of their receiving corps.
And they won this Super Bowl on a day when their talented receivers all started dropping passes.
What will this team be like when Thompson finds two or three powerful running backs? And adds a few more offensive linemen and receivers?
This Packers team could be at least as good as the Packers of the late-1990s, when Favre, Reggie White and Mike Holmgren led them to one title and to the brink of another.
But I think Green Bay can do better this time -- White was at the end of his career, and Holmgren was growing weary of his time in Green Bay.
The current Packers are already the best team in the league. And like the 2001 Patriots, they won the title at the beginning of an upswing, not at the very peak of their powers.
New Orleans won it all as a peaking team last season. Then fell back a bit this season.
Same thing happened with the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII and the Indianapolis Colts the year before that.
The Packers are set up for a run. In fact, I think the only other team as well positioned for continued success is Pittsburgh -- young QB, young coach, a lot of key young talent.
I wouldn't be shocked at all if these two teams meet again in a Super Bowl or two over the next few Roman numerals.
Still, Green Bay just beat Pittsburgh, head to head, with the superior QB and the chance to get so much better.
If Green Bay doesn't win three titles in the next five or six seasons, I think it will have underachieved. That's a high bar, but the Packers are worthy to aim for it.
Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org