Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Packers lose more than game to Bears

While Monday night's loss to the Chicago Bears left the Green Bay Packers still tied for first place in the NFC North, that was about the only good thing that could be said for the game. That and Eddie Lacy's continued ascendency as a great rookie running back.

For far worse than the 27-20 loss to Da Bearz was the first quarter loss of franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a shoulder injury. It was a very odd sight indeed to see Rodgers on the sideline, out of uniform.

Veteran backup Seneca Wallace was thrown into the fray and, obviously, the game plan and game changed considerably from an offensive standpoint. Even against a backup QB leading Chicago, the Pack somehow couldn't find enough offense to matter. Worse, the defense didn't hold up their side of the bargain on this night, getting no pressure on Josh McCown, unable to cover Chicago's large receivers, and missing tackles that should have been made. Despite two great special teams plays -- a blocked punt and a surprise recovered onside kick -- this was a night where the Packers just couldn't make up for the loss of Rodgers, let alone all the other starters who were still sidelined. Oh, we should also note that staring right guard T.J. Lang sustained a concussion during the game, requiring a shifting of the lineup, as well. Backup linebacker Sam Barrington was also hurt during the game.

To say it was not a good night for the Packers is an understatement.

What about Rodgers?
The status of Rodgers' injury was unclear last night but became a bit more understandable today. Rodgers himself stated on his weekly radio program this afternoon that he had sustained a fractured collarbone, "a significant injury" as he put it. While the nature of the injury was known, Rodgers said no timeline was in place for his return. He said he'd work to be back as quickly as he could, but more tests and time would be needed to get a better picture of things.

In his press conference this afternoon, head coach Mike McCarthy indicated that he felt a bit better today after talking to the medical staff about Rodgers' prognosis. He intimated that, from his point of view, the availability of Rodgers would likely be on a week-by-week basis. If you want to read between the lines, perhaps Rodgers and the Packers dodged a bullet: instead of being lost for most or the rest of season, it's possible Rodgers might be able to return in time for the Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit. Maybe even before. That would be great, getting him back to go down the stretch. That should also be the time when the Packers will have Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb back, as well.

In the meantime, the Pack will have to get by with Wallace as the starter against the Eagles (in Green Bay), the Giants (in New York/New Jersey/wherever the heck they play), and the ViQueens (in Green Bay). These are not currently powerhouses of the NFL, but as things stand at the moment, one questions whether the Packers are, either. If the Packers can win at least one of these games, and get Rodgers back for the game against the Lions, the team will still be in the hunt going down the stretch run of the season. Backing up Wallace, at least for the time being, is former University of Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien who was just promoted today from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Other roster moves
Whether by circumstance or coincidence, the Packers made a few other roster moves today in addition to those already noted. TE Jermichael Finley was formally placed on the injured reserve list effectively ending his season. OT Derek Sherrod was removed from the PUP list and added to the 53-man roster.

Where do the Packers go from here?
That's the question Packer fans and sports pundits alike began to ask last evening and all through the day today. Some are of the opinion the Packers are done, the season is over. Others believe the Packers can stay within spitting distance of the NFC North lead during Rodgers' absence, and make a full stretch run upon his return. Honestly, though, no one knows.

Clearly, a now pertinent discussion has also begun on the weak spot in GM Ted Thompson's approach to roster-building this season: the backup quarterback spot. Granted, over the last 20 years or so, it hasn't been an issue in Green Bay. Now, it is. Whether Seneca Wallace can manage a game in such a way as to keep the Pack in games, or even win one or two, remains to be seen. But not having a solid backup in place going into training camp and the season itself was a gap that may haunt Thompson at the end of this season. Right now, I think Thompson and many Packer fans would have been very pleased to have someone like Josh McCown ready to step in when Rodgers went down.

Time will tell how all this shakes out.

All we know for sure is that the Packers will have to try to win a challenging game on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles without the best quarterback in football pulling the trigger.

Let us pray...