If you were in Wisconsin Monday night during the match up between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears, you might have heard the state issue a collective gasp. After being sacked by Chicago defensive end Shea McClellin, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the game.
Rodgers revealed Tuesday that he suffered a fractured left collarbone. No timetable has been set for his return. Tyler Dunne, who covers the Packers for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, joined Bill.
BL: Rodgers was sacked on a routine defensive play – not a dirty hit. How serious is the injury that resulted?
TD: There’s not much that Rogers can do personally, rehab-wise. It’s a matter of letting that bone heal, and the team and the quarterback and all parties involved kind of reaching that decision of when it is OK to return. So, I think we’re talking about multiple weeks here. Like you said, it’s a routine play. This is a quarterback who has been out of the pocket, on the run, mobile his entire career since he started taking over there in 2008. So it was kind of a matter of time. He’s been that model of durability to this point. Now the Packers have to adjust.
BL: The Packers went on to lose to the Bears Monday night. Green Bay’s backup quarterback Seneca Wallace had not played since 2011. He wasn’t even in the league last season. He threw an interception in his first series. Have the Packers taken any criticism for not having a better backup plan?
TD: Yeah, I think so. I think the criticism should really be rooted in the fact that here’s a team, a GM, that drafts and develops better than any team in the league, you could say. I mean, they have more rookies than any team. They’ve dealt with so many injuries this year, the Super Bowl year in 201o, but they always seem to have those young players that step in.
The quarterback is the one position where they really have not had that contingency plan. They had faith in Graham Harrell developing as a number two, that didn’t happen. B.J. Coleman as a seventh-round pick never really threatened. They signed Vince Young, he was pretty awful most of [training] camp. And so they settled on Seneca Wallace at the 11th hour, right on the eve of the regular season, because he does have experience. This is the first week that he’s actually worked with the first-team offense and gotten real, meaningful, substantive snaps with this team.
BL: The Packers had won four straight before Monday’s loss. They’re in a three-way tie with Detroit and Chicago for the division lead in the NFC North. How did you rate their chances to contend for a title this year before Aaron Rodgers went down?
TD: It’s going to be awfully difficult for them to win the division and get that first-round bye. And Green Bay at Lambeau Field before Monday night, I believe they had won 24 of 25 in the regular season at home. Now they are in a three-way race in the NFC North, they’re without their best player — the player that makes everyone’s jobs easier on offense. I think for them it’s about staying in the hunt where before the injury it was about maybe getting home-field advantage.
BL: It’s interesting that you talk about staying in the hunt because if Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play late in the season, some weeks down the line, will the team’s record play a part in whether they bring him back or just let him keep recovering until next season?
TD: I think that he will be back whether that’s four weeks, five weeks, six weeks [from now]. We don’t really know yet. I don’t think that Rodgers necessarily knows yet. You know, [Packers coach] Mike McCarthy sounded optimistic about that, that it’s not season ending. He’s their best player. But until then, they’re going to need to keep pace in the NFC, which is going to be very difficult.