Sunday, December 17, 2017

With season officially over for the Packers, time to insure that Rodgers will be "ready" for next season

I bet Brett Hundley was out there on the sidelines saying to himself “Whew. At least that’s not me throwing those three interceptions,” having already done so twice in a game this season. But for a while there in his return to the line-up Aaron Rodgers made things at least “interesting.” Most of the “experts” were predicting that because of Rodgers’ rustiness and the “improved” Carolina offense, the Panthers would prevail. Indeed, while the Packers’ defense seemed to be an on-again, off-again affair, they were eventually sunk by four turnovers, the last one a fumble after a pass completion following the recovery of an onside kick, after pulling within a touchdown with 2:43 left. It did seem for a few seconds there that Rodgers would pull another rabbit out of the hat despite throwing those three picks (much as Russell Wilson did after throwing five interceptions in the 2014 NFC Championship game against the Packers), until Geronimo Allison’s miscue at the Carolina 28-yard line, ending the game a 31-24 loss. 

It’s hard to assess Rodgers’ return. He was under duress almost the entire game, and having avoided sacks throughout, was done so twice for 19 yards in losses on back-to-back plays after reaching the Carolina 21 midway in the fourth quarter, losing the ball on downs. After returning to “form” by the end of the first half and the Packers ahead 14-10, he promptly opened the second half with two of his first three passes picked off. His third quarter numbers—3 of 11 for 20 yards and those two interceptions—were strictly DeShone Kizer-like. Rodgers did revive enough in the fourth quarter to at least make it a “game,” completing 13 of 17 for 142 yards and a touchdown, but otherwise only managed to reduce his passer rating by six points. 

As I mentioned last week, I thought that expectations that Rodgers’ return would propel the Packers to the playoffs was strictly a game of chance. The best thing that can be said (and that is only an assumption) is that the Packers were more “competitive” against the Panthers than they might have been without Rodgers. But with the season officially over, it might be a good idea to insure that Rodgers will be “100 percent” healthy for next season, instead of playing out the season just to pad his stats.

Update: Atlanta’s victory over Tampa Bay makes it official: the Packers are officially out of the playoff picture, but the odd thing is that the Falcons can still lose a playoff spot to the Lions, Cowboys or the Seahawks—the latter two teams the Packers defeated earlier in the season when Rodgers was healthy.

Update II: As expected, Rodgers was put back on IR for the remainder of the season.

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