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It’s Never One Thing

By Dan Bauer, Contributor, 01/10/24, 9:00AM CST


Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in Lockroom Logic are solely those of Dan Bauer and do not reflect the opinions of Wisconsin Prep Hockey or its partners. Dan presents his opinions based upon his lifetime of teaching and coaching experience and we present them unedited.

As the Green Bay Packers “Love Boat” sails fearlessly into the shark-invested waters of the NFL playoffs, there has been plenty of high praise for the captain and crew. Last week in response to his suspension of Jaire Alexander, Head Coach Matt LaFleur said it is “never just one thing” and Sunday he doubled down on that statement by handing out game balls to everyone on the team following their playoff-clinching win over the soon to be hibernating Chicago Bears.

This Packer pilgrimage to the playoffs has been a total team effort.

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise. With the formidable Dallas Cowboys next on the schedule, LaFleur’s biggest task will be keeping his crew even keeled and humble amid the tidal wave of national accolades. It will require another stone-cold performance by his quarterback Jordan Love and third straight week of a resurgent Joe Barry defense.

Jordan Love is receiving the lion’s share of the credit for the Packers season and every pundit in the country has posted his stats compared to his predecessor Aaron Rodgers. The acclaim is well deserved. However, the difference between the two signal callers can be found in the single word echoed by his teammates over and over again—TRUST! Fifth-round diamond in the rough rookie Dontayvian Wicks said, “Everybody is capable. J-Love trusts us.” 

Love has earned their respect and their trust through his patience and his leadership.  Love, who threw thirty-two touchdowns, the second most in the league, and his infant class of receivers have dispelled the notion that Green Bay doesn’t have enough offensive weapons. While Love has chosen to make those around him better, Rodgers always craved better players.

As Love appears to slowly be stepping into the gigantic shoes of Favre and Rodgers, we can hope his success on the field and payday off the field won’t change him. Love has persevered through the death of his father at age fourteen, the heavy criticism when he was drafted in 2020 and sitting patiently behind a future Hall of Famer for three seasons. While Rodgers carried a chip on his shoulder that later morphed into arrogance and selfishness, Love seems to carry in his heart his father’s dream of him playing in the NFL. Time will tell whether Love will be more interested in winning Super Bowls or his paycheck.   

One thing that cannot be ignored is the impact Quarterback Coach Tom Clements has had on Love and the entire Packers organization.  It might never be one thing, but Clements is one thing that has had a profound effect on the development of NFL quarterbacks, especially in Green Bay.

There are many great storylines in the Packers turnaround from 2-5 to a playoff berth. LaFleur has kept the youngest team in the league together through a tough four game losing streak early and a pair of back-to-back losses late that nearly ended their playoff run. Defensive coordinator Joe “Fire” Barry has survived the wildfire of hatred from fans and led his defense from 22nd to a top ten ranking (points per game). Preston Smith’s resurgence, the play of McDuffie, Valentine and Ballentine, has the revolving door defense playing its best when it matters the most.  Aaron Jones has demonstrated why he should be re-signed by providing Love with a running game to compliment his air attack. 

It’s never one thing.

Perhaps the most under the radar heroes of this season are Zach Tom and Rasheed Walker.  Almost hard to recall that David Bakhtiari was scheduled to be our starting left tackle in September. Walker a seventh-round pick from Penn State won the job in his absence and has been nothing short of fantastic the second half of the season. From weeks nine to eighteen he was rated as the sixth best in the league according to Pro Football Focus. Tom, on the right side, is ranked third and has allowed only two sacks all season. Love has only been sacked thirty times, third best in the NFL.  Coaches Luke Butkus and Marshfield native Adam Stenavich take a bow.

If anyone in Titletown has the right to gloat, it would be General Manager Brian Gutekunst. Like Ron Wolf’s gamble on Brett Favre and Ted Thompson’s vision to grab Aaron Rodgers, Gutekunst’s courage to draft Jordan Love may turn out to be just as legendary. His wisdom and patience have transitioned the Packers from what many thought would be a rebuild into a reload.

Crow is a delicacy that some fans are just destined to savor. They are impulsive, jump to judgement fans that believe the season is a series of sprints and not a marathon. Like weathermen they are quick to forecast, but seldom right. That awful win in Carolina, with Jaire on the bench, turned out to be pretty pivotal after all. 

If the Packers lose on Sunday, the haters will be back calling for everyone to be fired and deeming a wonderfully unexpected season of growth and success—an abject failure. I wish every one of those firecracker fans, who explode after each loss, would have to face the team, look them in the eye and tell them their season was a failure. Those who have embarked on a similar quest to be the absolute best at anything understand that the effort, sacrifice and commitment required is anything but failure. 

It is never one thing that gets you to the top of the mountain or keeps you away. Those who label coming up short as a failure, have either never persevered through a journey to be number one or are just too bitter and immature to understand. 

The formula for success in athletics and in winning a championship will always be different for every team. The best designed blueprint will be tested and challenged and attacked from an unending list of difficulties, many that will be out of your control. It is a fantastic journey that will come up short for all but one team.  

But be certain, win or lose, it will never be about just one thing.

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Dan Bauer is a free-lance writer, retired teacher & hockey coach in Wausau, WI. You can contact him at

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