When Aaron Rodgers lay on the field after being driven into the ground by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, there was a collective gasp of air let out amongst Packer Nation. Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in the game (maybe ever), had broken his collarbone and is likely done for the season. A tragic blow indeed, as the Packers were 4-2 before he went down with injury and looked like serious contenders to get to the Super Bowl in a league that currently has no clear-cut favorite. What are the Packers to do now?
Commence the bold suggestions.
“Tony Romo is out there!” “Colin Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job!” Would bringing in one of these veteran guys help keep the Packers as contenders and save our season?! Sadly, no. The team has so many other issues that it really doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback at this point. Even with Rodgers, one could argue that there is no way he could carry team for the rest of the season. We have seen him do it before only to run out of tricks to cover up a subpar defense and coaching. With dreams of the playoffs fading, it is time to give command to Brett Hundley. He is the best and most logical choice they have at this point, but they will continue to struggle in other areas, and it will be even harder to watch with Rodgers not there to save the game week after week.
Don’t get me wrong. Bringing in either Tony Romo or Colin Kaepernick would shake things up a bit and provide some excitement for what is now looking to be a dismal season. It would provide a great storyline too, as Romo went to high school in Burlington, Wisconsin and Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee. Two Wisconsin boys coming back home to play for the Packers. How cool! However, neither of these ideas is realistic.
First, getting Ted Thompson to even sign a free agent is hardly realistic. But even if Thompson did want to sign Romo, I don’t see Romo leaving his new gig in the play call booth to have to learn a whole new system on a team with injury issues in the middle of the season. Plus, he’s great at calling games. It is unlikely he would leave that opportunity.
Then there is Colin Kaepernick. And while he doesn’t have another job to worry about like Romo, he unfortunately would be too big of a distraction at this point. I don’t think he will be setting foot on the field anytime soon. He just isn’t a great enough player for the Packers to take on the burden he brings. Sorry, Colin.
Therefore, when Mike McCarthy said, “I have three years invested in Brett Hundley,” in support of his backup QB as the new starter going forward, he was right. Hundley is the most logical choice due to the fact he has been on the team for three years, knows the system, and studied behind the Bad Man himself, Aaron Rodgers. Let the him finish out the season, and see what he can do. He gives the Packers the best chance at winning, but it will be things like defense, coaching, and injuries that limit the success of the team.
Even with Rodgers, there had been plenty of questions surrounding the quality of the defense. Now, the defense is set to be completely exposed with Rodgers not there to cover up their mistakes. So far this year, the Packers defense has given up a touchdown on 75 percent of red zone drives. That is second worst in the NFL. They are also in the bottom ten for 3rd down percentage, 4th down percentage, yards per play, number of penalties, and total points allowed to opposing teams. In addition, the 12 sacks they have are the fourth lowest total in the league, a far cry from a championship level defense which is something that Hundley, or any QB, will have trouble overcoming. The Packers have shown promise on defense occasionally. Blake Martinez and Kenny Clark have made the jump from their rookie years, and Kevin King has shown he could be the real deal, but the defense seems to lack any identity.
In addition to an inept defense, that has frankly stunk for too long, the Packers have once again been bit by the injury bug this year. They have had too many injuries to key players on both sides of the football, and seem to have trouble staying healthy. That will wear down any team.
When it isn’t the defense or injuries that are hampering the Packers, Mike McCarthy and the coaching seem to always fill the void, like last week against the Saints. While touting total confidence in Hundley to play well, McCarthy sure didn’t seem to show it in his play calling. He limited Hundley to a restricted playbook and refused to deviate from his game plan. If the Packers want any chance to win with Hundley, then McCarthy needs to open up the playbook. McCarthy’s play calling is another thing Rodgers has covered up with his brilliant play through the years.
I hope the Packers continue to compete, but no matter who is playing quarterback, they will continue to come up short each year until they solve some of the glaring issues surrounding the team.