Quick Shots on Packers, Super Bowl, Cubs and more.
The Packers shouldn’t count their “next years” so confidently. Green Bay wasted a perfect storm of a season — the Bears imploded, unknown Ryan Grant ran wild the second half of the season, the Cowboys lost, the Giants kept dropping TD passes and missing field goals. The last time that happened — when Green Bay lost in Philadelphia after backing into the playoffs when woeful Arizona upset Minnesota — the Packers didn’t win another playoff game for four years. The Packers may narrowly be the youngest team in the NFL, but the strength of their defense was 10-year veteran cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson. If they age overnight the way Chicago’s offensive line did last year, the Packers won’t make the playoffs next year. Favre Worship Gets out of Hand At Lambeau last Sunday, an ardent Packer fan threw open his coat to accost me with his “Our Favre, Who Art in Lambeau” T-shirt. Packer backers may be the most agreeable sports fans in America — one famously didn’t even complain after being duct-taped to a road sign by Bear fans a decade or so ago — but their Favre fascination gets obnoxious. Do they realize their “god” has a playoff passer rating of 73.37 the last decade? That’s virtually identical to Rex Grossman last year (73.23). The Packers are 12-10 in the playoffs with Favre, who has a 100 passer rating in three of his last 12 playoff games. Joe Montana was 16-7 in the playoffs with a passer rating (96.2) even higher than his regular-season mark (92.3). He topped 100 in eight of his last 11 playoff games, including a 102.8 rating as a Kansas City Chief in his final game. Only Half the Manning Hype Good thing the Colts didn’t make it to the Super Bowl; could you stand two weeks of Manning Bowl hype? Ditto for the Chargers bowing out. Quick Shots didn’t want to hear any more about Eli Manning refusing to play for San Diego after the Chargers drafted him No. 1. Once you sign a contract, players are obligated to play. But draft choices owe nobody anything until they sign. Cubs Have Reason for Optimism Cub fans seem to be counting on “next year” as confidently as the Packers. But they’ve got better reasons: Chicago plays in the woeful NL Central, added a Japanese import and can reasonably expect better years from its three best players — Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs should repeat as NL Central champs. Only Milwaukee seems a big threat. A Salute to the Anthem Playing the national anthem before games is as much a part of sports as big screen TVs, tailgating and beer commercials. It’s especially poignant at big events, like before the Bears and Packers played in the last two NFC title games. And hearing a Lutheran crowd reverently sing a cappella before a girls basketball game Thursday just made me proud to be an American. Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.