Let’s take a trip down memory lane for just a moment…
Things were looking positive for the 2013 season long before the grueling days of Training Camp had even begun.
They had drafted Datone Jones out of UCLA to shore up a pass rush that had been suspect for the past few years aside from Clay Matthews.
Eddie Lacy fell to the Packers in the second round, who wasted no time in selecting him to be one half of a running tandem with DuJuan Harris, in what would finally be the solution to the Packers much maligned running game.
Mike McCarthy had announced plans to shuffle the offensive line, moving Bryan Bulaga to left tackle, and leaving Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod, and Don Barclay to battle it out at right tackle.
Everything was in place for the Packers to make a deep playoff run, with a return trip to the Super Bowl not out out of the question.
And then…reality set in.
Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season with a torn ACL, forcing rookie David Bakhtiari to take over the left tackle duties.
DuJuan Harris was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, leaving Lacy, James Starks, Jonathan Franklin (himself later placed on injured reserve) and John Kuhn to handle the rushing duties.
These were both critical losses suffered in the preseason. The real losses were still to come.
Both Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews-with nearly $180 million in new contract money between them-would be lost for extended time at a time, crippling the hopes of the Packers, and crushing Packers fans everywhere.
Clay Matthews was lost for four games with a broken thumb, leaving a gaping hole in the pass rush ability of the defense.
Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone has left the face out of the franchise out of action for seven weeks (and counting).
Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn have all started in Rodgers’ absence. Four starting quarterbacks this season, after 21 years of only having three TOTAL (Favre, Rodgers, Flynn).
The defense-oh the defense-has endured more ups and downs this season than a roller coaster does during the summer.
This was a team that has been left for dead on more than one occasion.
Yet somehow, someway, the Packers control their playoff hopes.
Despite not winning for more than a month, going 2-4-1 without Aaron Rodgers, this team has life. A lot of life.
Thanks to the Lions’ loss to the Ravens on Monday night, the Packers path to the playoffs is simple: win, and they’re in.
Who would have thought that after all the turmoil, all of the heartache, all of the anguish of watching this team seemingly fall on their collective faces during the season, that this would be possible?
The possibility for a playoff game at Lambeau Field this January still exists, even after everything this team has endured so far.
The Grateful Dead surely must have been thinking about the 2013 season when they wrote the lyrics to “Truckin”
What a long, strange trip it’s been for the 2013 Packers.
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.