The Green Bay Packers have had to deal with many players missing game due to injuries this season. While this is no different than the past few seasons, it is still always concerning for Packers fans.
However, the Packers haven't seemed to slow down, winning four straight games. Even with key players out, the Packers are finding ways to go on without them. Aaron Rodgers was able to throw four touchdowns in their last game against the Arizona Cardinals without the help of his top two wide receivers.
The real question for Packers fans has to be this: How the heck do we keep winning games?
When Ted Thompson became the general manager for the Packers, he began to make a lot of unpopular decisions, including releasing Darren Sharper in his first season. They went on to have a 4-12 record that season, and many people were upset with his choices.
Thompson has had a philosophy of not picking up big players or making big trades, but acquiring young players through the draft or free agency. Thompson believes in acquiring these players and developing them throughout their careers.
Thompson's philosophy has paid off for the Packers recently, especially during their Super Bowl season in 2010. When big players went down, others that had been developing for several seasons were able to step up without much trouble.
When Ryan Grant went down in the first week of that season, Brandon Jackson was able to step in. While he didn't play as well as Grant, he still contributed. James Starks became a big player to step up, as he carried the load for the backs in the playoffs.
When Morgan Burnett went down, Charlie Peprah was able to step up. He was able to play well opposite of Nick Collins, and grabbed two interceptions, along with 63 total tackles.
Erik Walden was another player that stepped up big. When he was given the opportunity to play against the Bears, he stepped up, grabbing 12 total tackles and three sacks.
These examples seem to go along well with this season for the Packers. The reason the Packers keep winning is this idea of the "next man up." The Packers don't panic when a big player goes down, they trust their backups to come in and perform. With Ted Thompson's philosophy of developing, these combine to create a solid group of players that are confident when they are asked to play.
Randall Cobb has been one of those players to step up. While he was perceived at the beginning of the year as just being an explosive returner, he has proved his worth at the receiver position with the absence of Greg Jennings.
Casey Hayward has been another young player to step up. With the injuries to Charles Woodson and Sam Shields, Hayward has been able to play incredibly well, grabbing four interceptions. He currently leads all rookies in that category, and is tied for third in the entire league.
These players are stepping up everywhere, and are helping the Packers continue to win. With so many similarities to 2010, Packers fans can feel oddly optimistic about the rest of this season.