Many of us are surely still feeling the sting after how the 2012 Green Bay Packers season ended. It comes with the territory: one of the most successful franchises in all of pro sports, a recent history of winning and the expectations of winning, perennial postseason appearances and a constantly bright future.
It has been suggested that maybe we have become too spoiled and perhaps have forgotten, a bit, how to stop and appreciate what this team does accomplish each year.
In keeping with that spirit, it’s time to take a brief pause from the “what if’s” and “why not’s” and acknowledge a few of the bright spots from this past year’s team.
On Saturday, the NFL held its annual Honors Awards show and announced the winners of such prestigious categories as Most Valuable Player, NFL Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year, to name a few.
The Green Bay Packers had representation in two categories as cornerback Casey Hayward was nominated for Defensive Rookie of the Year and the fake field goal/touchdown play in the week two win vs. the Chicago Bears was nominated for Best Play. Each warrants a closer look at how it became one of the NFL’s best this season.
Hayward was the team’s third draft pick in 2012 and their second selection in the second round. General Manager Ted Thompson traded up to snag Hayward and while his potential was sky-high, the early expectations for his immediate contributions to a crowded secondary were tempered.
Hayward wasted no time in making an impact and by mid season, he was and remained among the league leaders in interceptions. He led the Packers in 2012 with six. It’s very encouraging to think that Hayward still has quite a bit of room to improve his game. With question marks surrounding the future of Charles Woodson and possibly Tramon Williams in the Green Bay secondary, Hayward is a budding star who is ready to take those reins.
No one expected Hayward to be up for this award when he was drafted. By season’s end, hardly anyone expected him not to be. He didn’t win, but was easily the most pleasant surprise for the 2012 Green Bay Packers. We will be seeing and hearing plenty of Hayward’s name as the Packers prepare for the 2013 season.