The one where the Green Bay Packers start off the season looking more like a high school team than an NFL team.
2012. 2010. 2009. Even 2008.
Do you see a pattern developing?
The Packers are slow starters and fast finishers. Let me give you all the painful reminder about last year’s infamous “Fail Mary” situation. Green Bay dropped to 1-2 after the replacement referees horribly missed a possession call and said the Seahawks caught a touchdown when really it was a game-clinching Green Bay interception.
How did that season end? Green Bay stormed to a 10-3 record over its next 13 games, but that loss came back to bite them. If the correct call had been made, San Francisco would have had to travel to Lambeau Field instead of host Green Bay in a divisional playoff.
While nobody could’ve stopped Colin Kaepernick’s brand of read-option running, a home game certainly would have made a huge difference.
Now, let’s briefly look at 2010. Through injuries and unfortunate outcomes, the Packers stumbled to an 8-6 record. Then something happened.
Armed with a new sense of purpose, Green Bay won six straight games en route to a Super Bowl championship. Flying under the radar, Aaron Rodgers led his team on an unstoppable charge and began a three-year run of brilliance.
Could we be in for a similar season in 2013?
Three weeks, two close losses and a plethora of injuries, and it’s the same old Packers.
Clay Matthews can’t figure out how to keep his hamstring healthy, helmet-to-helmet shots are scrambling our players’ brains and the secondary can’t cover anyone consistently.
Morgan Burnett, Casey Hayward, Matthews, James Starks, Eddie Lacy, Jermichael Finley, the list goes on and on. Right now, the Pack can’t catch a break and a Week 4 bye, the earliest ever in team history, couldn’t have come at a better time.
Week 5, a home tilt against the Detroit Lions, suddenly is a must-win game.
Though the Lions are dirty, make careless penalties look routine and are pretty much a doomed franchise, they are 2-1. Matthew Stafford is one of the best passers in the NFL, and the hapless Green Bay secondary gives me no reason Stafford and Calvin Johnson’s names won’t make the announcer’s voice hoarse.
But have no fear, Packers Nation. This team is built for the long haul, and new weapons this year make the 2013 squad a bit better than the last two seasons.
First off, Rodgers, though he had a bad game Sunday in Cincinnati, may be getting even better. The way he sliced through the Washington secondary was a work of art.
Second, Green Bay has a viable rushing attack for the first time in Rodgers’ career and the first time overall since Ahman Green in the early 2000s. Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Starks could all still be stars in this league, and the Packers have the luxury of utilizing all three after the bye.
Next, Matthews is a beast, and the return of Johnny Jolly solidifies an already strong defensive line. Throw in rookie Datone Jones and the emergence of Mike Daniels and Mike Neal, and the Packers actually have defensive playmakers a la 2010 with Desmond Bishop, Cullen Jenkins and Nick Collins. Toss in Sam Shields, Davon House and hopefully soon Burnett and Hayward, and the Packers have the same turnover-causing defense that was so good in the 2010 postseason.
For three quarters Sunday, Green Bay shut down Cincinnati and even forced six turnovers. The Bengals finished with less than 300 yards. Before sustaining his injury, Matthews flew around the field like a hawk patiently stalking its prey.
Green Bay’s defense has a tenacity fans really didn’t see last year, when the 49ers had their way in a playoff embarrassment.
Finally, and this may be the best thing, the NFC is weak and vastly overrated.
San Francisco may not even be good, even though Green Bay can’t figure them out. Seattle, which everyone says can’t be beat at home, would’ve lost to Green Bay last year had it not been for the NFL’s version of XFL refs.
Furthermore, Atlanta looks bad at 1-2, the Saints haven’t beaten anyone, the Cowboys are choke artists and the Bears are, well, not in Green Bay’s league quite frankly.
The NFC is there for the Packers’ taking, and mark my words, Green Bay will battle for the top spot come playoff time.
Patience is a virtue. So as Green Bay fans, let’s collectively take a second to chill.
Inhale. Let it out slow. Now breathe in, and out slower this time.
Expect this 1-2 start to quickly turn into 7-3 and end up 12-4.
The most successful franchise in NFL history isn’t falling off anytime soon.