The Green Bay Packers have a 26-6 regular-season record since winning Super Bowl XLV two years ago. But they haven't made it past the divisional round of the playoffs in either season, and it's worth listening to their most important player's thoughts on why.
"We need to just figure some things out within the locker room, I think, and maybe just think hard about what was so special about that 2010 team that won the Super Bowl, and try to channel some of those emotions and ideas and thoughts and feelings and incorporate some of that stuff at the beginning of this year when we reconvene in April and kind of set the vision then.
"It was a disjointed year [in 2011], the first year out of the lockout situation, the year we had. I know [coach Mike McCarthy] has said some of the OTAs didn't go the way the wanted them to this year. So we need to do a better job as leaders of setting the vision early and holding guys accountable for falling in line."
Asked what made 2010 so special, Rodgers said:
"I think there were two things in particular most people would agree with. One, there was a very strong appreciation for the opportunity. For whatever reason the appreciation wasn't the same this year. The guys [in 2010] were just really thankful to have a job in some cases, some of the guys we brought in, but also thankful to get into the playoffs and be somewhere where they felt special and they felt important. It was very united group, more than we've had in any of the eight years here I've been a part of.
"And the second is we were hungry. We hadn't done it before. There were a lot of doubters out there. It's hard, I think, when you have success to be able to have that same amount of hunger that you had when you haven't had that kind of success before. We need to figure out how to do get back to that place."
What Rodgers is describing is a relatively natural human reaction to success. Sometimes, no matter your intentions and personal character, you lose the edge created by a goal you have never accomplished. I suppose it's possible for the same group to rekindle those emotions, but more often in professional sports, you see it happen only after an infusion of some new key players.
So is Rodgers advocating a personnel overhaul? I don't think so. Not at all. I'm just saying it can be difficult to to generate new hunger from the same players. We'll see how it plays out.