In 2007 the Green Bay Packers went 13-3 under second year head coach Mike McCarthy. They won nine of their first ten games. Legendary quarterback Brett Favre threw for over 4,000 yards that year. Backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers even threw for over two hundred yards and threw a touchdown pass. Ryan Grant was the leading rusher, running for 956 yards and eight touchdowns. At the end of the regular season, all was well. It was a year that Packers fans remember very vividly.
Although some might, most do not remember that season for the running game, the defensive play, or coming back from a .500 season the year before.
Unfortunately, what they do remember is the across-the-field interception by Brett Favre that ended the Packers’ 2007 Super Bowl bid and ultimately, Favre’s career as a Packer. It was a cold and dark night. One where skin would freeze due to longevity in the open air. It was the second coldest game in Green Bay Packer history up to that point at minus-23 degree wind-chill. That season was and is known as Brett Favre’s last season as a Green Bay Packer.
Of course, the 2010 season was and is known as the Packers’ fourth Super Bowl season. They did however have fifteen players placed on injured reserve that year. The 2010 Packers team persevered just as much as any team did before or after. They needed to win their final two games to even make the playoffs. Then they won the wild card beating the Philadelphia Eagles. Then they beat the Falcons, the Bears, and then finally the Steelers to win the Super Bowl. This was about as great of a “Cinderella” story as any fan will ever see. The Packers were the second of two teams to be a 6-seed and win a Super Bowl, with the first being the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. This season was special because it was a new QB that brought the Packers to the Super Bowl. It was a new team.
As of Monday, October 16th, 2017, the Green Bay Packers start anew. Just like in the 2013-2014 season, the Packers are relying on someone other than Aaron Rodgers to lead this team. This time things are different. The first time Rodgers broke his collarbone, the Packers were clearly unprepared. They ended up using four different quarterbacks that season (including Rodgers). Matt Flynn, Seneca Wallace, and Scott Tolzien led the way after Rodgers was hurt. When Rodgers broke it the first time, it was in week 9 against a division opponent, the Chicago Bears. The Packers were 5-2 up to that point in the season. Rodgers ended coming back that year in week 17, throwing a touchdown pass to Randall Cobb to win the NFC North.
This time the Packers were 4-1 with Rodgers breaking his collarbone in week 6. Notable, is the fact that when he broke his collarbone the first time, he broke his left collarbone. This time, it is his right collarbone, his throwing shoulder. That is what makes this devastating. Aaron Rodgers may not come back this season, and do not expect him to.
This is a new team. This is Brett Hundley’s team. Rodgers, for now, is out of the picture. There will be no Tony Romo or Colin Kaepernick in a Packers jersey. Mike McCarthy made that very clear in his postgame press conference. Brett Hundley is the guy.
So far this season, the Packers have eight players on injured reserve. Aaron Rodgers is listed as “out”, and nine more players are listed as “questionable”. (https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb/2017.htm)
Due to all of the injuries, this Packers roster has a lot of room for improvement. More importantly, it has a lot of room for opportunity. Football is a team sport, and it could never be more apparent right now. Brett Goode, the Packers’ long snapper, was placed on injured reserve (IR) with a hamstring injury. This led to Taybor Pepper being the new long snapper. Injuries to Jason Spriggs (Hamstring) and Don Barclay (foot) have led to the opportunities of Justin McCray, Lucas Patrick, Adam Pankey and Ulrich John. Due to injury, we have seen our starting left guard, Lane Taylor; play the most important position on the offensive line, left tackle.
Bryan Bulaga has been hurt most of the season. The same thing goes for all-pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. He missed four straight weeks and was even hurt again against the Minnesota Vikings. That is just the offensive line.
Due to Ty Montgomery’s broken ribs, the fifth round draft pick out of University of Texas-El Paso got the start last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He ended up rushing for 125 yards against the Cowboys. His name is Aaron Jones. If you hadn’t heard of him before the Dallas game, you have now. This is because he got the opportunity to show what he could do.
In the secondary, Morgan Burnett was unable to play against the Vikings. This cleared up space for players like Lenzy Pipkins and Josh Hawkins. Pipkins had five tackles against the Vikings. Not only did Pipkins have more opportunity, so did safety Kentrell Brice. Brice played 75 snaps, 97% of the defensive ones against the Vikings (https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/gnb/2017.html). Quinten Rollins, the third year player out of Miami (Ohio), played 22 snaps, and as of Monday, October 16th, he has been placed on injured reserve. This could make way for more playing time for this young secondary. It could bring forth experience that is vital if the Packers want to make it into the playoffs this year. It isn’t about how talented your starters are it is about how deep your roster is.
Injuries are never a positive. They hurt the NFL. Stars like J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham Jr., and now Aaron Rodgers have been knocked out of the league this season. Now Rodgers isn’t entirely out of the picture for the rest of the season, but as of right now, it looks that way. Injuries don’t create a fan base. It is the star players that do.
A lot of Packers fans may be depressed and feel defeated. But, this is the season of opportunity. With opportunity available, who knows what could happen? Remember when Tony Romo was declared out for several weeks due to a back injury and some guy named Dak Prescott took over? Do you remember when Don Majkowski was injured and some guy named Brett Favre had to replace him?
We have seen opportunity become seized this year. Aaron Jones, Josh Jones, and Kevin King are just a few examples. Lets give these players an opportunity to display what they are made of. Perseverance is something that will be taken seriously by this team. We have talent everywhere, and Brett Hundley simply needs to seize this opportunity.