Trent Stutzman

Is Shutting Down Rodgers For The Year A Good Idea?

Created on Dec. 02, 2013 11:16 AM EST

The news just keeps getting worse for the Green Bay Packers. After their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers made progress last week by practicing for the first time since fracturing his collarbone, media reports coming out Sunday wiped out any good feelings Packers fans were experiencing. The reports said that Rodgers would be lucky to play against the Atlanta Falcons in Green Bay’s next game, and the team is considering shutting him down for the rest of the year. Would this be in the best interest of the team?

Bad cop:

Packers fans haven’t felt this miserable since the team’s 6-10 season back in 2008, but they must remember that the playoffs are still attainable. Let’s say Rodgers returns this Sunday. The Packers very well could go 4-0 in their final four games, which would put them at 9-6-1. In order to win the NFC North, they would need the Detroit Lions to go 2-2 or worse in their final quarter of the season. With a team as mistake-prone and underachieving as the Lions, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen. And while a No. 4 seed is the likely seeding a 9-6-1 record would get, that isn’t the worst thing in the world. Just get in, and anything can happen.

Good cop:

The Packers may still be alive for the playoffs, but the odds are not in their favor. The Lions are indeed far from a sure bet to win any game, but their three final games are against teams with a .500 record or worse – the Baltimore Ravens (6-6), New York Giants (5-7) and Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) – and only one is on the road. Given the way the Packers’ defense has played recently, I’m not sure how attainable a 4-0 run is, even with a healthy Aaron Rodgers. And if you’re not making the playoffs, you might as well get the best possible positioning in the draft you can. Middle ground should be avoided at all costs – if you’re not contending for a championship, you want to be at the top of the draft , acquiring the best talent possible and reloading for the future. As we’ve seen so far, no Rodgers for the rest of the year will ensure many more losses than wins, which equals a top draft position.

The verdict:

As long as Rodgers doesn’t rush himself back from injury too soon, I say play him while there’s still a chance at the postseason. The risk of long-term ligament damage is too great to play him if he’s not fully healed, but if he’s healthy and they’re still alive, go for it. There was a time back in 2010 I was convinced there was no way the Packers would make it to the playoffs. They had just lost to the Lions, who were still a laughing stock back then, to fall to 8-5. With the remaining three opponents being the Patriots (11-2 at the time), Giants (9-4) and the Bears (9-4) and with Rodgers out at least one game with a concussion, I didn’t see any way the Packers could squeak out the 10-6 record necessary for a playoff spot. Well, they did lose the first game, but then they caught fire, got a little bit of luck and became Super Bowl champions. The chances may not be great, but it’s worth taking a shot.

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