Posted on October 15, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The shape of the entire 2017 NFL season may have changed early Sunday afternoon. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the 1st quarter of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings after taking a hit from linebacker Anthony Barr. He was later diagnosed with a broken right collarbone. The Packers acknowledged at halftime that Rodgers could miss the rest of the season.
Barr was not penalized for the hit, which appeared to be just a tad late, especially in a league that’s obsessed with protecting star quarterbacks. Brett Hundley replaced Rodgers as Green Bay’s quarterback. But aside from a touchdown pass to Davante Adams soon after coming into the game, he found it difficult to get much going against a tough Minnesota defense on the road. Without Rodgers, the Packers lost the game to the Vikings 23-10. Both teams are now tied atop the NFC North at 4-2.
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Packers appeared to be trending up, emerging as favorites in the NFC. Last week, Rodgers led the team to a thrilling last-minute victory over the Dallas Cowboys to move to 4-1. This week, Green Bay’s offensive line finally returned to full health, with offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari playing together for the first time all season. Everything appeared to be falling into place for the Packers.
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But suddenly, everything has changed. Not only is Rodgers out for the long term, but both Bulaga and Bakhtiari were absent at the end of Sunday’s game with separate injuries.
Even if Rodgers isn’t ruled out for the rest of the season, he won’t be back on the field for the immediate future. Everything is now on Hundley’s shoulders for the foreseeable future. Before Sunday’s game against the Vikings, the third-year pro out of UCLA had just 11 career pass attempts. Against the Vikings in relief of Rodgers, he was 18 for 33 for 157 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
One would assume that Hundley has learned a great deal about playing quarterback in the NFL by watching Rodgers the past two seasons. It also stands to reason that he will be in a better position to succeed next week against the Saints with a full week of practice as the starter. However, whether he’s ready to lead the Packers and put them in position to reach the playoffs remains to be seen.
“I’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time,” Hundley said after Sunday’s game. “Obviously didn’t get the job done, but we’ll be better.”
At the moment, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has not indicated the desire to look outside the organization for a quarterback. He said that Hundley will be the starter and Joe Callahan, who’s currently on the practice squad, will be the backup.
“As a football team, we have to move forward,” McCarthy said after Sunday’s game. “We had a number of injuries today. A lot of guys going in and out of the football game, both offense and defense. We’ll work through that and get in there tomorrow and we’ll get ready to prepare to beat the New Orleans Saints.”
With Rodgers being the latest and most important in a series of injuries afflicted upon the Packers this season, the team undoubtedly faces a steep uphill climb. Green Bay was going to lean heavily on Rodgers to help them rise above all the other injury losses. There doesn’t appear to be anybody left who can help them rise above the possible season-long loss of Rodgers.