I thought about entitling this piece, “In Memoriam” and just wallowing in sadness and self-pity, but something about Brett Hundley is keeping me from going full 2013. Still, merely one week after a career game against our arch rivals from the South, Aaron Rodgers will not be leading this team to victory on Sunday. It’s hard to digest. As a fanbase, we have so little experience with this kind of thing. It’s not a rare condition, you just don’t ever expect it to happen to you. Get better Aaron, I am unabashedly keeping hope alive that I will see you on the field this year. I wouldn’t bet against him in any realm of life. #comebackstartsnow
Anyway, back to the present. We have Brett Hundley calling plays for us now and that’s just that. As you might have heard from McCarthy’s midweek press conference–we are not even remotely in the market for a starting QB. Like it or not, we are going with the 5th-rounder from UCLA that my wife says looks a little like Chance the Rapper. I’ll take it. (She also pointed out that my favorite number is 7, but I didn’t hear her over the screeching sounds of disappointment and angst on Sunday.)
In 2013, the coaching staff was caught with their pants completely down and their Johnson’s were in the mailbox. Making the playoffs that year, when your backup was Seneca-freaking-Wallace was and still is a mystery. Some day I would like to go over that entire run with nostalgia glasses–it was brutal.
But, as I said earlier, there is something different about this situation than the one involving Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and the vengeful ghost of Matt Flynn. Hundley is a guy that is born and bred into our system. I could see him putting together a decent stretch if he can keep the turnovers down. Previously, Hundley was the kind of guy that you were afraid to put in for even a second because he could very well fumble or throw an interception in that time frame. You saw that principle in action last week with his first pass being picked off pretty easily.
But, once Hundley set in, you started to see him set up some very real, very pro-level type of throws. If Montgomery holds on to that ball, we would have had a different narrative coming out of that game, I think. As it is, he’s coming off a shaky performance and will require a pretty miraculous turnaround to get to playoff-caliber football.
Here’s the thing though. I believe. You know why I believe? Because he wouldn’t even be the first Green Bay QB with a lucky number 7 and a penchant for getting the Packers out of tight spots. That’s right, I see a little of the ole Majik Man in the kid.
#7 Don Majkowski (pronounced ma-COW-ski) was the quarterback that preceded Brett Favre and lead the Packers to a point of mild respectability after years of limping mediocrity. That’s not exactly the most strident praise, but after what we saw last Sunday, I will take mild respectability and I will take it HARD.
So let’s take a peak at a game that I think, if Hundley is really gonna be the guy for the rest of the year, might closely mirror the game this week. Take a trip back with me to an age where the mullet wasn’t just a fashion statement–it was a way of life. Let’s go to 1989.
New Orleans Saints at the Green Bay Packers
September 17, 1989
A younger Jim Mora led the 1-0 Saints into Lambeau in Week 2 for a beatdown, at least that’s what everyone thought. Mora and his Saints had whupped up on the Cowboys the week before–not allowing a single point–and they came in to Lambeau favored by 4.5 points. (This week, the Saints are favored by 5.5 on the road at last check.) The Saints were a punishing team that year, though not particularly successful. They would end up with a top-5 offense and a defense that was probably the best in the league at stopping the run.
The Packers were scrappy, to be sure. The 1989 Green Bay Packers hold the record for the most 1-point victories in a season with 4. That’s a real statistic. Their defense was leaky, barely breaking the top-20 that year, which helped set up those miraculous comebacks. Their ace-in-the-hole was Don Majkowski, who had spent the previous year sharing the quarterback position with another player. Majkowski threw for over 4000 yards in 1989 and had 27 touchdowns in his first year on his own. 1989 would be the year Green Bay came back to the national consciousness after a woeful 4-12 1988 season. The next few seasons for Majkowski, unfortunately, would be cut short or lackluster and his injury in 1992 led to Brett Favre starting every game until 2007–so you know how that goes.
But this game was his coming out party. And he started it by showing just how resilient he could be. The Saints, still trucking from the week before, got out to an early 21-0 lead. The strength of the Saints offense was their running game, led by pro bowler Dalton Hilliard, but they started the game off with a 32 yard passing touchdown to set the tone for the first half. The Packers had no answer against the Saints Offense and Majkowski was struggling to get anything going on the other side of the ball.
Things looked bleak in Lambeau again. They had lost their first game against Tampa, a hated rival, and going 0-2 looked inevitable. Would God ever smile on the Packers again? Just wait for the second half.
Majkowski’s Packers were down 24-7 at the half. And yet, Majkowski never let up. The Packers defense held pat in the 3rd quarter and that gave Majkowski the opportunity he needed to pull back into the game. With an Ed West rushing touchdown and a short passing touchdown by Don, the Packers had pulled within 3 at 24-21 to start the 4th quarter.
This is where Majkowski would earn his (slightly derisive) nickname the “Majik Man.” In the 4th quarter, Majkowski rattled off 18 consecutive completions and willed
his team down the field two more times. He did so right after the Saints woke up, throwing a long touchdown and putting the game back into double digits at 31-21. Majkowski responded with an excellent fake, shown in great detail on this super cool 1989-style Packers highlight video. The Packers’ guards pulled to the right, just like they would in a Packers’ sweep, but Majkowski pulled up and threw a touchdown to an open receiver on the other side of the field. The game was still on.
New Orleans was able to get a field goal for their last scoring drive, putting some distance between themselves and the Packers at 34-28. However, that was too close for the Majik Man. He continued his completion streak and lead the Packers confidently down the field with less than 3 minutes left. A touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe was all she wrote. The Saints had less than 2 minutes to win the game and didn’t. The Packers were winners as home underdogs and would go on to have a great 10-6 season–though they missed the playoffs.
Can I hope for something as miraculous as 18 straight completions from Brett Hundley? Probably not. However, if he is able to be competitive and keeps us at .500 or better, he’ll have a fan in me. What’s gonna be his nickname? Who knows. But the kid seems driven and has a great smile. Might not account for much in this league, but it counts in Packer Country.