Packers can ill afford to face Pats without Rodgers

Posted Dec. 13, 2010 @ 3:58 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

What figured to be a prime-time dream matchup between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady could end up turning into the Packers’ worst nightmare if Rodgers is not cleared to play next Sunday evening after suffering his second concussion of the season in Green Bay’s 7-3 upset defeat to the Lions in Detroit Sunday.

It goes without saying that the Packers will do everything in their power to hopefully return Rodgers to action with the team fighting for its playoff life with three tough regular-season games remaining against the Patriots, Giants and Bears.

But there’s only so much the team can do, as the final decision will be made by an independent neurologist who must be satisfied that Rodgers can sufficiently pass an extensive battery of tests and be free of symptoms such as nagging headaches, sensitivity and memory loss. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said late Monday morning that it could be Thursday before Rodgers’ official status becomes known.

The PFW Spin

The Packers no doubt wouldn’t mind forgetting their untimely weak effort against a Lions team that didn’t do anything out of the ordinary except play its tail off on Sunday. But McCarthy indicated that he and his staff would be looking at lots of tape of the Lions loss in an effort to regain the excellent form his team had been displaying for a solid month before imploding on Sunday.

There’s actually strong reason to believe that it wouldn’t have mattered if Rodgers had not suffered a concussion, as it appeared that, for whatever reason, Green Bay’s offense was out of sync in Detroit. Two early turnovers — rookie TE Andrew Quarless’ fumble after a decent gain on a reception and WR Greg Jennings’ drop of a bomb from Rodgers that should have been an easy 73-yard TD pass but instead was intercepted by Detroit— set the stage for a very bad day at the office.

Against the Patriots, the Packers will be in big trouble if they don’t dramatically improve their ground game (20 carries for only 66 yards, with 35 of those yards coming on keepers by Rodgers and Flynn) and their defense against the run, which allowed the Lions to control the clock with 190 yards rushing.

The Packers’ offensive line did neither Rodgers nor Flynn any favors with faulty protection that went downhill after OLG Daryn Colledge went out with an early injury. And Jason Spitz did a poor job in Colledge’s place, leading to his removal in place of T.J. Lang.

Would it be too much to expect Flynn to rise to the occasion in Foxborough if necessary this Sunday evening? At times Sunday he looked OK, especially on his first couple of possessions in the second half until a terrible interception in the endzone killed a promising drive. As McCarthy put it Monday morning, Flynn “made some throws, and he missed some throws.”

Unfortunately, a few of Flynn’s misses proved to be particularly costly, most notably his overthrown pass to Donald Driver on 3rd-and-1 on the Packers’ final drive of the game that would have been a long gainer.

Instead of being “In like Flynn,” the consensus would appear to be that the Packers could be “over and out” without Rodgers this Sunday — unless, of course, the division-rival Bears help out by continuing to stumble through their equally rough final three-game regular-season stretch.