The Packers are in Ken Whisenhunt's head

Green Bay will return to the practice field Wednesday to continue preparations for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game at Arizona, meaning it’s time for us to transition from review mode to postseason mode. We’ll start it off by telling Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt to lighten up.

This column from Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic suggests Whisenhunt is upset that the Packers ran up the score in two relatively meaningless games this year at University of Phoenix Stadium. I suppose there could be a level of media extrapolation here, but the claim is a joke regardless.

According to Bickley, Whisenhunt thought Packers coach Mike McCarthy needlessly game-planned for the teams’ preseason game in August, one the Packers led 38-10 at halftime. Apparently that violated some kind of unwritten preseason rule.

On that count, I strongly disagree. The third preseason game is usually the only August affair that NFL teams care about. It’s the closest to a regular season game as there is, and there are no articles of war. If McCarthy thought it was best for his team to work in a game-planning structure, he had every right to do it. If anything, a 28-point halftime deficit should have said more about the Cardinals than the Packers.

Meanwhile, Whisenhunt suggested McCarthy prolonged his starters’ playing time in last Sunday’s 33-7 victory to pad their statistics. At best, that claim has limited factual basis.

It’s true that quarterback Aaron Rodgers played long enough to pass Brett Favre for second on the Packers’ all-time list of most passing yards in a season. But if stat padding were truly a high priority, Rodgers would have continued playing. When he departed, Rodgers was only 25 yards away from passing Lynn Dickey for the No. 1 spot on that list.

I’m sure Whisenhunt doesn’t appreciate any suggestion that the Packers have manhandled his team this year.

But if the games were as meaningless as Whisenhunt apparently believes they were, then he shouldn’t be upset with the manner his team lost them. They either matter, or they don’t. As far as he should be concerned, the Packers and Cardinals will meet for the first time Sunday.