When Aaron Rodgers took over for the Packers in 2008 it was hard to imagine another name dropping back with a Packers jersey on. His first year as the starter was his only losing season. Ever since then the Packers offense has catered to his skill set. The ability to read defenses, adjust the offensive line, make plays with his arm and legs make Rodgers and the offense special. With Rodgers likely done for the season, the Packers offense is now on crutches. Brett Hundley and Mike McCarthy may have only half of the Packers playbook at their disposal. Despite Hundley’s lack of experience he still remains the Packers best option. McCarthy said the organization would stick with Hundley and Joe Callahan and he was serious. The reality is that Hundley gives the Packers the best chance to win.
When Rodgers broke his collarbone in 2013 it was week 9. The Packers went 2-4-1, which allowed Rodgers to return for the season finale and get Green Bay into the playoffs. The biggest difference between the 2013 break and this year’s break is not the week in which it occurred, but the side. The collarbone break Rodgers suffered on Sunday was on his right side, not his left.
Rodgers’ injury will likely require surgery. A surgically repaired collarbone takes 9 weeks to heal, but it would take Rodgers at best 13 weeks to return to the field. Rodgers would not return to the field in 2018, but the chances of this injury happening again are slim.
Losing the best player in the game of football would cripple any team. Rodgers had perhaps the best talent around him in his career and another year of his prime has just gone to waste. That said, the Packers can still win a few games with Hundley, but no quarterback off the street is taking the Packers to Minnesota come February.
The Packers run one of the more elaborate offenses in the NFL. Expecting someone like Kaepernick who hasn’t thrown a meaningful pass in over a year to lead this team to glory is out of the question. At least Hundley has been able to learn from Rodgers and study the playbook for three years.
Hundley does not have the knowledge or the chemistry with his receivers like Rodgers. If anything at all he has the element of surprise going for him. A week of practice with starters will do him wonders. Getting in the flow and timing of the starting receivers is something Hundley has yet to experience. He admitted after the game it was not unusual for him not to take any reps with the first string offense.
Sadly, Hundley still won’t have the complete first string to work with vs New Orleans. There are 14 guys down for the Packers at the moment. Six of those guys are offensive lineman. Even with a healthy offensive line, Hundley is up against insurmountable odds to make the playoffs. With Justin McCray and Ulrick John lining up at tackle, his comfort level in the pocket could be lower than his first ever start at UCLA.
If the Packers have any hope of reaching the playoffs, they would need to win at least five more games putting them at 9-7. At the Bears and Browns with a home game against the Ravens are three winnable matches. But, they would need to beat the Vikings at home and edge out a game vs the Lions to help with a possible division tie break.
Many preach that McCarthy is too conservative with his play calling. With Rodgers out it should allow McCarthy to get creative with sets and give defenses looks they have never seen.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.