GREEN BAY - Whether they watched Monday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers live or awoke Tuesday morning to see the final score, everyone at Lambeau Field arrived for work wearing the dejection of a failed season. For the first time since 2008, the Green Bay Packers will bow out before January even begins.
“This is unacceptable,” wide receiver Randall Cobb said. “We have too good of a team with too many good players in this locker room to be on the outside looking in, and not have a way in. We definitely have to figure it out this offseason and come back ready to play next year.”
Such was the prevailing sentiment inside a downtrodden locker room Tuesday as the Packers began preparing for the Minnesota Vikings on a short week. For some, this is the first time in their professional careers the season will end without a playoff berth. For certain veterans — especially ones who joined the Packers this year — it was just another dose of sadness they have experienced before.
“It sucks,” cornerback Davon House said. “Every year, regardless of what team you’re on, you’re hoping to (win) the Super Bowl. I mean, it sucks that we didn’t get to make it to the dance. But the team is going to continue to grow from this, continue to get better from this.”
House’s story in particular is an unfortunate one. A year ago, House was finishing his second season with the Jacksonville Jaguars on the bench. He hardly played after the first handful of games, and during that time his mind drifted back to the Packers, the team that drafted him.
When the Jaguars released him, which was inevitable, House’s goal was to return to Green Bay for a chance to win the Super Bowl. Now he’s on the wrong side of the playoff bubble as the Jaguars hold the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
“This time last year I was dreaming to be back here,” House said.
With games remaining against the Vikings on Saturday night and at Detroit on New Year's Eve, players around the locker room said the final two weeks will be about pride as much as anything else. Aside from professionalism, their only motivations are improving for next season and, perhaps, influencing the NFC playoff picture against two teams that still are alive.
“(We will play) for each other,” left guard Lane Taylor said. “Play for ourselves. You still have teammates that depend on you to do your job. You want to go out there and play for your teammates.”
Added Cobb: “I’ll continue to come back here to work every day, practice as hard as I can, and prepare myself for a game.”