When is a devastating injury cause for optimism? In an increasingly lost season, the Green Bay Packers are about to find out.
After the Green and Gold stitched together a “winning” streak against a string of struggling franchises and shaky quarterbacks, the haughtier, less observant elements of this once-proud franchise’s fan base may have felt another title run was in the offing. The more realistic element no doubt saw that this team was a paper tiger, and due for a fearsome comeuppance. It arrived in the form of an injury to celebrity quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ left collarbone on Monday night against the Chicago Bears. The Packers were forced to use a rusty Seneca Wallace (remember that Ted Thompson is brilliant and can’t be questioned, not ever, nooooooo), and the Packers lost yet again at Daunte’s House, 27-20.
Now, for those who think I came here to revel in the sorrow of a bereaved Packer Nation, you could not be more wrong. Indeed, my favorite team (the Minnesota Vikings) has gone through a very public rough patch in 2013, and I am here to lend an ear and a shoulder (no pun intended!) to fans from Racine to Rhinelander.
You could say that the Vikings have been playing the role of Shadow Packers this year, complete with a battered and burned defense, a solid receiving corps and a running game at the mercy of an inconsistent offensive line. Thanks to the mighty mite Rodgers’ hero ball antics and a soft schedule, though, Green Bay’s record didn’t accurately reflect their predicament, unlike Minnesota. Now, with Rodgers sidelined perhaps three weeks or longer, the Packers can grapple with what the future holds at the quarterback position.
Is Seneca Wallace the answer? Probably not, though he can hardly be blamed. When you have Rodgers driving all the other back-ups out of town on a rail and forcing Green Bay to scramble for a replacement bare weeks before the start of the regular season, you’re left with, well, Seneca Wallace. Desperate fans pleading for Matt Flynn or former Viking Brett Favre show the extent to which Thompson and Rodgers’ hubris have left the cupboard bare at the game’s most important position.
And that’s good! The 2014 NFL Draft is rich in quarterback talent. Although their fluky early-season success prevents them from the necessary bottoming-out and getting a premium pick, their mediocre finish will still net them the chance to land, at worst, a very good talent in the middle of the first round. Worries about how much Rodgers will pout (and make no mistake, he will pout, even if it means suspending his SAG-AFTRA Presidential campaign against incumbent Ken Howard) need to be pushed aside as a long-overdue rebuilding project begins.
This week, the Packers play the wildly inconsistent Philadelphia Eagles at Daunte’s House. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Nick Foles is coming off a record-tying 7-TD performance against Oakland. Fortunately for Green Bay, it’s the start of a new day, when they can see themselves for what they are. Their true, bad-at-football selves. Finally. In an increasingly lost season, honesty is the best policy.