Aaron Rodgers has made the jump from “really good” to “elite” quarterback this postseason. And I think every San Francisco 49ers fan just threw this paper (or their computer) against the wall after reading that last sentence.
Instead of drafting Rodgers with the top pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, San Francisco treated its fans to six years of Alex Smith and gave me a perfect segue into this column-the NFL’s biggest “What If” scenarios:
What If Minnesota Didn’t Self-Destruct In The 2010 NFC Championship Game?
The Vikings winning this game gives us two weeks of Brett Favre Super Bowl coverage. A terrifying thought, but it was one minute away from happening. It also provides Favre with the perfect send-off and doesn’t force him to come back for his 46th season.
The anti-Favre sentiment among most football fans also swings the public’s full support behind Peyton Manning. How does this affect the game? Probably not that much, but it’s a bit tougher to win when everyone outside of Indianapolis is rooting for the Saints.
Remember, that might have been Manning’s last chance for the all-important second title, as the Colts’ window of opportunity has nearly slammed shut. This was evident in this year’s playoffs, when he threw to someone named Blair White on the game’s most crucial play.
A Vikings-Colts showdown also robs us of one of the best feel-good stories in recent memory, and one of the best “go for broke” calls in Super Bowl history. And this is the last time you will see the words “Brett Favre” in this column. I promise.
What If The Redskins Had Drafted DeSean Jackson?
Wait a minute, you’re telling me the Redskins made a bad decision on draft day?!? During the 2008 NFL Draft, Washington selected Devin Thomas at No. 34 and took Fred Davis at No. 48. Jackson was taken the pick after Davis by Philadelphia, which makes the blunder 10,000 times worse.
Jackson made two Pro Bowls in his first three years and was the league’s most dangerous deep threat/punt returner. The Redskins waived Thomas after less than three seasons, while Davis was Chris Cooley’s backup and once told Brian Murphy of Hail! Magazine, “I didn’t even talk to [the Redskins] or work out for them,” prior to being drafted.
Let’s move on.
What If Tom Brady Doesn’t Tear His ACL and MCL In The 2008 Season Opener?
The Patriots were not going 16-0 again, but you have to remember Brady was coming off one of the greatest seasons in league history. The team still hadn’t traded Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Junior Seau all signed on for one last run.
If the Pats won 11 games with Matt Cassel starting for the first time, 13-14 victories would be all but guaranteed with Brady. Add in the revenge factor from the previous year, a motivated Randy Moss and it looks like Bill Belichick missed out on his best chance at a fourth championship.
Also, Matt Cassel never gets a chance to become a starting quarterback in the league. He was a seventh-round draft pick who had thrown 33 college passes, and he played behind a great quarterback who never got injured. He was destined to be Jim Sorgi 2.0.
What If Arizona Stopped Pittsburgh’s Final Drive in Super Bowl XLIII?
The Cardinals were one defensive stop away from winning the Super Bowl. After seeing what happened this season, it’ll be another 10 years before we see that sentence in print again.
If the Cardinals held on to the 23-20 victory, there’s no way Kurt Warner returns to the team in 2009. This gives Arizona the opportunity to trade for Cassel, but most likely pushes the Cards decline up one year.
As for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger’s failure to lead a game-winning drive evens his Super Bowl record at 1-1 with an ugly combined stat line (30-51, 379 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT). This unfairly starts the questions of whether or not he’s a big-time player and if his championship was dependent on his defense.
Also, Mike Tomlin faces criticism for not being able to win multiple championships with the strong team he inherited and Pittsburgh fans wonder how the heck they lost to the Cardinals.
Let’s hope this isn’t the last football column for a while with a lockout looming.