Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Aaron Rodegers Distraction

Oh Dear
Today, the Packers refused to risk the future of Aaron Rodgers for the present of the other 44 players on the roster. And the present really isn't that bad.

All the team has to do is beat a Pittsburgh team that has very little to play for, at home, then get past a Bears that club can't stop the run, and they'll have no worse than the #4 seed in the NFC. Which would get them a home game against, in all likelihood, the second best team from the NFC South, who will come into that game sorely disappointed at not being, well, the best team in the NFC South, and at home for the first round bye.

But first things first; they have to win. Again, this week, without Rodgers.

Now, I have no inside knowledge of the situation here... but I have been playing poker for a really long time, and I know when a guy's position is weak, and when he wants to be anywhere but where he is right now. And that's Rodgers on camera this week, saying he knows what's going to happen, and that the writers really need to go talk to his coach. Because all that is telling you is that he really wants to play, and thinks he can, but that his coach isn't letting him, and he doesn't agree with the decision. That's it, in a nutshell and with finality.

The Packers may be doing the right thing here. Backup QB Matt Flynn has acquitted himself admirably, and there's a very real chance that they won't need Rodgers to win this week anyway. There's also the very real chance that even if they do make it to a playoff game, that they will be one and done against the Saints or Panthers, both of which look like they have vastly superior talent, and failing very cold weather, that the road team will dominate. And that even if they do get beyond that club, the next week is either as the speed bump in Seattle, or the road meat in New Orleans or Carolina.

So what they are really saying here is either that Rodgers isn't close from a health standpoint -- which seems unlikely given the history of how fast other guys recover from this -- or that they are comfortable with any significant amount of risk with Rodgers and the roster that they currently have. Which, again, might be the right thing to say. A realistic assessment of their current roster is part of the reason why the Packers have been one of the NFL's best franchises for much of the century... but if that were the case, um, why are they still trying so hard to win games?

Well, for the obvious reason. Because all of the players who are healthy are trying like hell to win the Super Bowl, because that's what football players do. Especially all the ones who play positions, unlike quarterback, where there's absolutely no guarantee or even that strong of a prediction that they'll be doing the same job again next year.

And isn't that, really, the crux of the problem here? It's OK for James Jones and Jordy Nelson to risk their careers over the middle. It's OK for Eddie Lacy to shake off various injuries and run like a man who won't see 50. It's OK for TE Andrew Quarless to go do everything that Jermichael Finley did, until he damn near died. Ryan Pickett, Nick Perry, Brad Jones and Mike Neal can all go hells bells to give the defense every chance to be better, but the Rodgers option is off the table.

It might work out for them; it might not. But if I were a starter for the Packers, and it's Week 16 and I'm gutting it out? I'm wondering why, exactly, I'm doing that. Rather than, well, thinking exclusively about the Steelers...

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