It’s remarkable really. To think that the Packers have not had to replace their starting QB for multiple weeks since Brett Favre stepped in for the Majik man in week three of ’92. 21 seasons of quarterback health: it’s more than any football fan should ever hope for, let alone expect.
And so it ends with a broken collarbone for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers face the prospect of hoping Seneca Wallace is ready to step in and lead the offense. Notice I didn’t say ‘manage’ the offense. That’s what we’ll be hearing all week: that Wallace just needs to be a game manager and not lose the game.
I disagree and so would Mike McCarthy. Wallace is 32, a veteran with 21 starts under his belt and one who has run versions of this offense in the past. The idea of moving past the likes of Harrell and Coleman and bringing in guys like Vince Young and Wallace was to provide some experience to the backup spot. A guy who had the tools to run the offense as if Rodgers was under center. Of course, had Ted Thompson listened to me and signed Matt Hasselbeck in the offseason we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But let’s move on…
McCarthy will build his offensive game plan based on Wallace’s strengths. Those weren’t on display on Monday night when he was thrust into action. A week of solid preparation, particularly third down situations and the two minute offense will certainly help. So will throwing lots of balls to his receivers.
I think it’s safe to say we won’t see the hurry up offense until Rodgers returns, especially this week against the Eagles’ high octane Usain Bolt-style fast break offense. The Pack will be content to shoot for time consuming drives to give its stretched-thin linebackers time to catch their breath.
Now let’s talk about the timetable for Rodgers’ return. We have no idea. I don’t think Rodgers or the Packers have a real handle on it yet. It was encouraging to hear McCarthy say on Tuesday that they felt better about the injury a day later than they did the night it happened. It sounds like he will miss a minimum of three games, with the Thanksgiving Day game the wildcard.
Best case scenario: Packers win two of the next three to put them at 7-4 when they head to Detroit. At worst, they’d be one game back of Detroit (but that’s unlikely since the Lions have road tests in Chicago and Pittsburgh) and may be tempted to sit Rodgers one more week, to give him ten additional days to heal before the four game December run. A healthy Rodgers would give the Pack a chance to run the table in December. If they do that and lose without him in Detroit, that would put them at 11-5 and in the playoffs for sure. Even a 3-1 final month would likely secure them a spot.
But if the Packers flop in the next three and lose two or all of them (yes, it could happen unless the defense reverts to what we saw in the three games before Monday night), then they might feel compelled to bring back Rodgers for the Lions game, knowing that their margin for error had effectively evaporated.
Wallace gets his close up this Sunday and the schedule has done him a favor. The Eagles rank dead last defensively in yards against and 27th in points against. The next two foes, the Giants and Vikings aren’t much better, but all three are middle of the pack against the run, meaning they really struggle against good passing attacks. Seneca, are you listening?
Are you ready?