It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to take away from this weeks game and what I wanted to write.
Sure, I could wallow in despair, write terrible (and well-deserved) things about Anthony Barr, or I could bring up all the free agent quarterbacks we could sign right now (instead of sticking with a guy who has been groomed in this system his entire career – oh how quickly the internet fanbase changes from “we should trade him for two first-round picks” to “we should bench him for some guy who isn’t even in the league”).
Instead, I’ll do something different. I’ll talk about how much I’m looking forward to watching and enjoying the rest of the season.
After all, it’s happened before.
In 2013, when Rodgers went down, I was sick, angry, everything you would expect. As the losses mounted with Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien, it got depressing.
But there was a silver lining.
I got to watch a team struggle… and it was fun. I got to watch some battles. I got to hope, not expect, that my team would pull it out each week. Even with the losses, there was always a glimmer of hope that the fourth quarter could hold that one big play that turns the game. Matt Flynn came in and took the Vikings. They were down 23-7 in the fourth quarter and Matty Ice brought them back to force overtime and took them back and forth for a full overtime period (making me late for my own game, but it was worth it) for a tie.
And it felt great.
They were down 21-10 at halftime against the Falcons and they battled back for 12 unanswered points to win by 1 – it was so exciting! Then there was the Dallas comeback that will forever be remembered as one of the most enjoyable games I have ever watched. They were down 26-3 at the half and stormed back to win in the biggest comebacks in franchise history. Remember BJ Raji lead blocking for Eddie Lacy on the goal line? That’s 600 pounds of humanity! That’s why we watch! They almost beat Pittsburgh – a fluke bounce that turned into a pick six and then the Steelers scored the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute and a half left. Then Rodgers actually came back against the Bears for the last game of the season and, in the final minute, made one of the greatest plays in the history of the league’s greatest rivalry to send them into the playoffs.
The following week, in the playoffs, the team played their heart out and Micah Hyde had the game winning interception slip through his mitts and they watched a tie game fade away by a field goal as time expired.
Five amazing, entertaining, down to the wire games at the end of they year. The kind of heart-pounding tension and drama that you hope every game will have. There was no expecting to win each game and then being mad if they lost or irritated if they didn’t blow out their opponent. It was everything that’s great about football!
It was no fun losing, but it was fun hoping. It was fun watching close games (just look how fun the Cincinnati and Dallas games were this year). It was not the entitled entertainment we’ve come to enjoy from the expectation of winning every week with the best quarterback in the game for the last quarter century – it was something different.
The 2013 season was like 1989 or 1992 or 2008 when you were watching a team figure out its identity and battle each and every week to try to scrap for a win. None of those season ended in championships, but I could argue they were more enjoyable than 2014, when the team was near unstoppable or 2011 when it was a race to 40 every week (even though that was fun in its own right).
It was fun watching and hoping instead of watching and expecting.
I could go for some more hope about now.
Maybe Brett Hundley will shock the world and win some games. Maybe he’ll be terrible. Maybe Joe Callahan will be starting by Thanksgiving. Maybe Hundley will be fine, but the injuries on the rest of the team will catch up to them. Maybe Hundley will stink, but his receivers will bail him out or the run game will heat up or the defense will catch fire. Maybe we’ll win, maybe we’ll lose. Maybe we’ll finish the year 4-12.
NFL football is reality television. It’s a story we get to watch unfold in weekly episodes through terrible weather. Did you get mad when Ned Stark died? Did you get angry when they cancelled The Office? This is a show, it’s entertainment.
Let’s be entertained.