The Green Bay Packers (5-4) have had a roller coaster kind of season which is in the beginning stages of completely spiraling out of control. From the opening days of training camp to their leap to the top of the NFC North standings to their current status, it’s easy to say that no other NFL team has had to deal with adversity like the Packers this season.
In training camp the Packers lost starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga and running back DuJuan Harris to season-ending injuries. Earlier this season the Packers lost two of their first three games when the team was without safety and defensive quarterback Morgan Burnett.
Once Burnett returned after the Week 4 bye, the Packers won four consecutive games to bolt to the top of the NFC North divisional standings. As the wins piled up for the Packers, though, unfortunately so did the injuries.
Since the bye week the Packers have seen key players such as wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones, tight end Jermichael Finley, outside linebackers Mike Neal, Nick Perry and Clay Matthews, inside linebacker Brad Jones and running back James Starks miss at least one game.
With these injuries, though, players such as Jarrett Boykin, David Bakhtiari, Eddie Lacy, Jamari Lattimore, Andy Mulumba, A.J. Hawk and Micah Hyde have stepped up in a big way when their opportunities have come. Unfortunately the one injury which hasn’t yet been mentioned is so far proving to be the punch to the gut which the Packers can’t fight back and recover from.
Losing star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a collarbone injury for what could likely be multiple weeks creates the idea that the football gods had other things in mind for the 2013 Packers this season.
Rodgers, not Boykin, Bakhtiari, Lacy or any of the other players mentioned above, was the reason why the Packers were able to keep their head above water after losing their most dangerous offensive weapon and All-Pro outside linebacker. The former Super Bowl and regular season MVP has already proven to be the reason why Green Bay still possesses a winning record.
Rodgers is expected to miss three more games. If the projection becomes fact, Green Bay could be 5-7 once he returns from injury. The Packers looked like they were on their way to a promising season and a third-consecutive NFC North division title, but injuries have literally ruined this team.
To add injuries to the already deep injury list, the Packers lost offensive linemen Evan Dietrich-Smith and Don Barclay, Perry, along with defensive tackles Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly to significant injuries during their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Even Seneca Wallace, who was starting in relief of Rodgers, suffered a groin injury. In relief of Wallace, Scott Tolzien put together a solid performance, but losing Rodgers is proving to be too much for the Packers to overcome.
Every minute Rodgers misses, his worth as an NFL quarterback skyrockets. As Rodgers recovers from injury he is clearly proving to be one of the most-true franchise quarterbacks in the league.
When I think of teams with franchise quarterbacks, I think of teams who can’t operate at a high level without their quarterback. Besides the Packers, the New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees) and Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning) are the only two teams with true franchise quarterbacks.
Fortunately for the Saints, Brees has never missed significant time for them due to injury, but New Orleans wouldn’t be able to operate so efficiently without the six-foot wonder. Manning proved his worth after missing a whole season with the Indianapolis Colts during the 2011 season as Indianapolis finished with a 2-14 record, the worst mark in the NFL.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady could arguably fall into this category as well, but after missing nearly the entire 2008 NFL season, the Patriots finished 11-5 with Matt Cassel under center, meaning they could still function without Brady.
Without Rodgers the Packers looked chaotic and frazzled, and this team doesn’t look like the contender which fans saw a mere two weeks ago. Any critics who have doubted Rodgers’ ability, importance and leadership in Green Bay have the right to remain silent, because Green Bay’s season is going down the drain without No. 12 under center.