The Green Bay Packers witnessed the apocalypse last Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. After a thrilling performance in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers rallied the team from a 15-point deficit trailing 21-3 against the Dallas Cowboys throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds left in the game, the Packers visited the Minnesota Vikings with devastating results.
Entering the first quarter of the game, Rodgers sustained a gruesome hit from Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr cracking the quarterback’s collarbone and sidelining him for the remainder of game in a medical tent while the Packers lost 23-10.
An ineffective and under-prepared Brett Hundley attempted to mobilize the Packers offense but failed to do so in the same vein as Rodgers who has held command of the line since 2008. It was later confirmed by Packers general manager Ted Thompson that Rodgers would be out indefinitely, ending his season.
From the time week one commenced, the Packers have been snake-bitten with roster casualties ranging from linebacker Nick Perry to wide receiver Ty Montgomery.
Already depleted of their best defensive backs found in Kevin King, Davon House and Morgan Burnett before the match-up against the Vikings, they lost cornerback Quinten Rollins to an ankle injury later in the game.
The Packers also experienced a tremendous setback when left guard Lane Taylor exited the game with an ankle and knee injury as well as the exodus of starting tackles Bryan Bulaga due to a concussion and David Bakhtiari plagued by a hamstring. The pile-up of injuries has not only weakened roster depth but has marred the Packers’ win percentage game-by-game.
Nevertheless, the Packers were able to trounce these grazes to their line-up. They seized early control of the NFC North at 4-1, but lost to the Vikings, and with the recent announcement of Rodgers’s truancy, the team will quickly discover that life without their superstar quarterback won’t be business as usual.
Over the years the Packers have held the unique tendency to assemble from adversity. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy’s teams have typically risen from the ashes on several occasions. Last year the Packers convened from a 4-6 start and won six games straight to improve to 10-6. It was quite apparent in 2016 that the team had the penchant to run the table.
However Rodgers was completely healthy and wasn’t playing on fumes. The recent broken collarbone injury of the quarterback parallels to that of 2013 but pales in comparison in severity.
Four years prior, Rodgers shattered his left collarbone in a 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears forcing him to miss seven games.
The Packers, who were then on top of the NFC North at 5-2, struggled to stay afloat as they were 2-5-1 in games without Rodgers.
Back-up quarterbacks Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien failed to replicate Rodgers’ mastery in his absence. When the team re-signed longtime back-up, Matt Flynn to fill Rodgers’ void the quarterback dilemma improved. After weeks of uncertainty, Rodgers returned for regular season finale at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears. At the time, they sat at 8-7 with the NFC North divisional crown on the line.
Practically picking up where he left off, Rodgers threw a miraculous touchdown pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb during the closing seconds of the game which allowed the Packers to clinch their fifth consecutive NFC North title at 8-7-1. Unfortunately, this time around there may not be a fairy tale ending for the Packers entering the latter end of the season especially in December. Rodgers fractured the right side of his collarbone which is also his throwing side.
A return of any kind for Rodgers in 2017 is highly improbable, but the Packers must prepare and adjust to duration of their schedule regardless of who starts at quarterback.
That being said, the team’s playoff aspirations now hinge on veteran quarterback, Hundley, a former 2015 fifth round pick from UCLA who has sat behind Rodgers for the past three seasons.
Just 24 years old, Hundley was the only quarterback on the Packers active roster entering Sunday’s match-up against the Vikings becoming the first Packers quarterback to throw a touchdown pass since Flynn in 2013.
The loss to the Vikings was not only factored by the growing number of injuries the Packers have accrued over their six game stretch, but from several costly mistakes committed by Hundley himself. He rebuked his performance in which the veteran completed 18-of-33 of his passes for 157 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Granted, Hundley made his debut appearance in a regular season game and will certainly require patience and cooperation from both his peers and the organization. However, turnovers acted starting quarterback does not bode well for the direction of the offense nor the outcome of the game.
The Packers must see what Hundley is capable of in several games before they panic and start scurrying for free agent wash-outs. Contacting Flynn and scheduling a workout as emergency quarterback would be a step in the right direction as Flynn has familiarity with McCarthy’s system. However, as of now, Hundley gets his first start at Lambeau Field against a visiting New Orleans Saints team helmed by Drew Brees and a resurgent defense.
The best course of action for the Packers as of now is to place their confidence in Hundley and observe.
While fans have been clamoring for the Packers’ front office to sign Colin Kaepernick with a growing online petition surfacing on Facebook, it is apparent that the Packers are signaling the Hundley era regardless of an uneven performance in Minneapolis. Hundley may not be the flashiest option for the Packers at quarterback, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Drew Mattiola is a fourth-year student majoring in communications. He can be reached at RM814408@wcupa.edu.