Injuries are a part of the game. Every fan hears that when one of their favorite players goes down. Football is a physical (sometimes too physical) game that is played between 250-pound men who are fast enough to run sub-five-second 40-yard dashes. However, for the 2013 Green Bay Packers, injuries aren’t just a part of the game. Injuries will define their season, for better or for worse.
The best way to tell the story of the Packers’ season thus far is simply listing some of the major injuries the team has dealt with or is currently dealing with.
- Clay Matthews: thumb
- Randall Cobb: leg
- James Jones: knee
- Casey Hayward: hamstring
- Brad Jones: hamstring
- Nick Perry: foot
- Jermichael Finley: neck
- Aaron Rodgers: Collarbone (according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter)
- Bryan Bulaga: knee
- 10. T.J. Lang: concussion
- 11. Eddie Lacy: concussion
- 12. James Starks: knee
- 13. DuJuan Harris: knee
- 14. Morgan Burnett: hamstring
Despite most of these injuries, Green Bay found a way to work themselves towards a 5-2 record. That’s where things changed.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers found himself wincing after a Shea McClellin sack early in the 1st quarter of Monday night’s loss to the Chicago Bears. Rodgers ended up running into the locker room with team Doctor Pat McKenzie. He never returned to the game and now most are speculating on when and if he will return and how that would affect Green Bay.
If Rodgers misses an extended period of time, there is a real possibility that Green Bay will struggle and miss the playoffs. Seneca Wallace did not impress when given the opportunity…but he only played three quarters in a game plan not designed for his skill sets.
This is where the Packers have a chance to truly shine. As of today, with all of their injuries, it would not surprise anyone if this team struggled to win enough games for a playoff berth. However, this is the chance for Green Bay to really display resiliency and its deep roster.
Head coach Mike McCarthy has always spun major injuries as opportunities for young players to make a name for themselves. Under McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson’s reign, the Packers have had a “next man up” mentality when it comes to injuries and how it affects the team.
No injury is big enough to derail a season, not even an injury to one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Seneca Wallace will now have a week to prepare with the 1st team. McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements will have the opportunity to prepare an offensive game plan around Wallace’s skill set. That will give Wallace a chance to succeed in situations that didn’t go so well on Monday.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to put anybody in there and think they’re going to pick up and run it the way he has run it,” McCarthy told the media.
“But it’s our job as coaches to make sure Seneca is comfortable and put him in positions and put him in concepts we can execute and be successful. I thought we did that on first and second down, but third down was an issue.”
Next week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles will be a more telling sign of where the Packers are without their star quarterback because Seneca Wallace will have a week of preparation.
In 2010, Aaron Rodgers went down with a concussion in the 1st half of a game against Detroit. Backup Matt Flynn came into the game and had a forgetful performance when he went 15/26 with 177 yards and an interception. Last night, Wallace had a very similar night when he went 11/19 for 114 yards and a pick.
The next week, Flynn and the Packers went into Foxboro and nearly beat a Patriots team that went 14-2 that season. That night, Flynn finished with 251 yards and three touchdowns.
Therefore, if Aaron Rodgers misses three or four games, the Packers’ season or NFC title hopes are not over. If “next man up” is the true philosophy of this team regarding injuries, then they’ll have no excuses to not compete.
In November 1990, the Washington Redskins went into Philadelphia and had one of the worst games regarding injuries in the history of the NFL. It was so bad at one point that an Eagles player supposedly shouted “Do you guys need any more body bags?”.
The Redskins and Eagles met again in the playoffs that same season in Philadelphia. The Redskins defeated the Eagles 20-6.
Green Bay hosts Philadelphia this Sunday at Lambeau Field.