2013 has been a trying year for the Green Bay Packers. Expected to be a legitimate contender for Super Bowl XLVIII when the season began, injuries have plagued this team since the week 1, and now star quarterback Aaron Rodgers has gone down. For any team to lose their quarterback is like trying to win a fight without arms. Basically, such a team is at an extreme competitive disadvantage. But with an uncertain timetable for Rodgers’ return, the question becomes will the Packers still have a shot at making the playoffs?
The fortunate thing for the Packers in 2013 is that they built a solid 5-2 record before the major injury. Even though they have lost their last 2 games and now sit at 5-4, there is still hope that they could potentially get Rodgers back in several weeks and be able to make a late-season run. However, the clock is surely ticking. With backup quarterback Seneca Wallace’s early injury this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, even those faint hopes are getting dim.
It really has been a sad sight to witness. The question coming into the season revolved around whether the Packers’ strong passing game could persist without the departing Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. With Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley, the team was confident. Unfortunately, Cobb suffered a fractured fibula and has missed most of the year. Finley took a nasty hit several weeks ago and may have to retire due to a spinal injury. Jones has also missed some time, meaning that Nelson has had to share the catches with players like Myles White and Jarett Boykin, formerly of the practice squad. Rodgers was able to push the team ahead even in the circumstances, but now that he is hurt it is all falling apart.
The defense has been with their pains as well. Both outside pass rushers, Nick Perry and Clay Matthews have missed time, and performed poorly in their returns that seem to have been rushed. The secondary has largely played abysmal, though without a legitimate pass rush such play is understandable. And since Rodgers’ injury, the team’s rushing defense has been gouged, resulting in little possession to make comebacks late in the game. The team is playing without their leader and seemingly without any heart.
The only aspect of the team that is clicking is the run game, led by outstanding rookie running back Eddie Lacy, whose angry style of play has given the offense a jolt. For the hopes of the season to fall upon any rookie is asking quite a lot, but such is the dire situation that the organization finds themselves in. Scott Tolzien is now the starting quarterback for the Packers. He has spent most of his career on the practice squad. This team is literally falling apart.
Any hope for the Packers rests on two things: a soft schedule, and an optimistic outlook on Rodgers’ injury. The remaining schedule for the team features the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Chicago Bears. Their divisional games will be tough, but this is otherwise a very soft end to the season. Even without Rodgers at the helm, this team could potentially win a game or two.
Based on the timetable of his return, the Packers desperately need 1 or 2 wins without their star quarterback. It is certainly a tall ask but not totally impossible given the caliber of their opponents. However, the status of Aaron Rodgers is key here. If he could return in 3 weeks for the Thanksgiving game at Detroit, the Packers have hope. However, if he doesn’t return for 5 or 6 weeks, the season could be completely lost by that point.
So for Packers’ fans, all they can do is wait and pray. Perhaps the team will beat someone without their hero, but what is most important is that Rodgers comes back to play as soon as possible and that the defense starts to play football again. This team is certainly at a major low point of the season, but if they can get it together perhaps a late season surge isn’t entirely out of the question.
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