A quarterback with a hot hand who had just led HIS team to back-to-back overtime victories, racking up six touchdown passes in three games, a completion percentage over 65% in that same span, as well as over 100 rushing yards. And a near-miss against the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the three best teams in the NFL.
And then the Green Bay Packers benched him.
That was the story that unfolded Sunday as we all learned that former elite QB Aaron Rodgers was returning to the field for the Packers in attempts to save a season that didn’t need saving, replacing the blossoming star that is Brett Hundley, in a move that left everyone wondering why it happened.
Well in case you missed it, Rodgers at times flashed what had once made him great, but also showed that he wasn’t the same player before the injury, tossing three interceptions, DOUBLING his total on the season, including two that were head-scratchers in how bad the throw was. He completed only 57.8% of his passes and was also sacked three times.
He looked scared of getting hit again and risking another injury.
It all added up to a 31-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers that all but eliminated the Packers from playoff contention.
And it’s all the coaching staff’s fault.
Listen, we all know Mike McCarthy isn’t exactly a football genius. And any time something goes wrong in the game he always looks like the dad who just got his 30-day Chip and was told his Sizzler coupon has expired. But his benching of the white-hot Brett Hundley is the biggest mistake he’s ever made as a coach.
Those back-to-back overtime wins that Hundley racked up? That already gives him more overtime wins in his career than Rodgers had in 100 more starts. So why would McCarthy ditch the hot hand to go to someone who has proven time and again that they struggle in clutch moments?
I get maybe Rodgers might fire up the troops, so to speak, with his return to the lineup, but there’s also the risk that maybe that old magic that he had is gone forever. And sure enough, it looks that way. And it cost the Packers and their fans another a shot at the playoffs and probably a run to the Super Bowl given how Hundley has performed in the biggest moments this season.
I mean, his name is BRETT. The same name as the other greatest QB in Packers history. Coincidence? I think not.
If there is one silver lining to come from this debacle, it’s that all of us who knew Hundley was the straw that stirred the drink had our beliefs reaffirmed. Sure the bozo fans who were clamoring for a Rodgers returned got their dream. But sometimes dreams turn into nightmares, like they did Sunday.
If anything, it proved that Rodgers can’t help this team down the stretch, and that the team should hand the keys back to Hundley for the final two games, getting him more experience for when he inevitably takes over for Rodgers in the near future.
Listen, Aaron Rodgers was a fine NFL player, he won a Super Bowl, he’ll likely end up in the Hall of Very Good, and then get brought back for old-timers day in Green Bay 10 years from now where he’ll get a nice smattering of applause.
But right now, it’s time to take Old Yeller out to pasture, and let the young stallion that is Brett Hundley gallop freely across the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field as God intended.