No Rodgers for the Green Bay Packers
The Packers are better off with Matt Flynn at this point
Aaron Rodgers will not ride in to the rescue.
Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers’ erstwhile starting quarterback, has just been ruled out of the Packers season-on-the brink game this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Matt Flynn express chugs onward.
Most Packers fans and NFL followers consider this bad news for the Green Bay Packers’ playoff fortunes. Perhaps.
The Matt Flynn-led Packers are on a two-game winning streak. The lead-up to both of the Packers’ skin-of-their-teeth, single-point wins against the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys featured Flynn taking the starter’s reps in practice in the week before each contest. In the other Packers non-wins that accrued during Rodgers’ absence, Flynn was not allowed a full week of preparation as “the man.”
This week, as in the last two, Flynn has taken the starter’s reps. Rodgers, despite “looking good” in limited practice, is still not medically cleared. The keys to the Packers’ playoff hopes remain in Flynn’s hands.
3 reasons against starting Rodgers
But what if Rodgers were medically cleared today? He’d get the start, obviously. At this point, the offense has now had three-plus weeks of practice with Flynn as the ringmaster. To think there would not be a significant number of adjustments necessary to re-create the timing and tempo of a Rodgers-led offense is ludicrous. Without question, the offense runs differently with a healthy Rodgers.
With less than two days before game time, practice opportunities are gone. With Rodgers still not leading practice reps, the Packers are more comfortable running the offense with Matt Flynn taking snaps.
When Rodgers returns, the question of rust isn’t so much about “will he be rusty” but rather about “how rusty” will he be once he resumes play? Rodgers’ skills as a quarterback and leader clearly make him the preferred choice. It’s unlikely Rodgers will return to peak form — having not seen live action since the first week of November — right out of the gate.
Rodgers’ rust won’t last long. Assuming he’s healthy, naturally. However, his rustiness, combined with the Packers’ lack of practice reps with him at the helm point toward a slow start. The Packers have managed to overcome slow starts in the past two games, granted. They barely hung on to win both games by a point each. Do you want to go for three?
The third reason to start Flynn over Rodgers at this point is the most disputed, even though it is a medical fact: Rodgers is not fully healed. If he were, there would be no discussion. Rodgers would play. There is no conspiracy afoot to withhold a healthy Rodgers from action.
Maybe he could go in his present condition, as many wishfully insist. Ask yourself this: Can he go an entire game without being taken down by the Pittsburgh Steelers? If you think so, I’d like to buy a ticket to your bubble world.
The first meeting between Rodgers, a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform and the turf will result in re-injury to his cracked collarbone. Then he’s done. And so are the Packers. For the haters out there, this has nothing to do with Rodgers’ perceived toughness. A not-fully-healed collarbone break cannot withstand any kind of NFL-level contact.
The best-case scenario for starting Rodgers against the Steelers sees him exiting the game sooner rather than later. Flynn will have to come in off the bench to complete the game — and the Packers’ 2013 season.
The right call
It’s Friday afternoon. The practice week is over. Rodgers is not fully healed. Starting Flynn against the Steelers is the right move for the Green Bay Packers. Flynn is no Rodgers, granted. But the Packers have proven they can win with Flynn as a team.
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