If there was a better time for Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers to make his return to the gridiron, then I truly don’t know when it would be.
This weekend, Week 17 of the 2013 season, Green Bay must head down to Chicago to face the 8-7 Bears in a game that will mean everything for the NFC North. Despite the fact that the Packers are 5-2-1 in their past eight games without Rodgers, miraculously enough; they can win the North by beating the Bears.
As far as the Bears are concerned, despite the fact that they’ve gone 4-4 since their bye week, they too can win the NFC North with a win.
It’s a winner take all situation, and for the Packers, it would seem as if it’s the week they need Rodgers the most. After all, no win means no playoffs.
Last week before the Steelers game it sure seemed like Packers nation was gearing up for Rodgers’ return, and for the most part, the Packers were giving off those vibes. Mike McCarthy said Rodgers was looking very good in practice, and even though he wasn’t cleared to play, the outlook seemed positive.
Earlier this week it was reported that Rodgers wasn’t actually that close to returning though, and his collarbone still showed “extraordinary risk“. If that was truly the case, then I wouldn’t expect just a few more days to take that risk from “extraordinary” to “ready to play the most physical sport on the planet”.
This is the Packers’ franchise quarterback we’re talking about, mind you. His collarbone injury doesn’t just impact this season, but it has the potential to impact next year and seasons after that as well. If the Packers mismanage this and Rodgers’ collarbone doesn’t truly heal, we could be talking about how one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL was stifled by an injury, rather than a great bounce back season in 2014. Or even a great playoff run if that extra week is what he needs to be 100 percent.
There’s a lot on the line this weekend for the Packers, but I firmly believe that if Matt Flynn takes care of the football and the Packers rely on the running game; the Bears are a team they can beat. Once the NFC North is won and the playoff hunt begins, that’s when you can have a serious discussion about padding Rodgers up and getting him on the field. If the Packers don’t end up beating the Bears, that gives Rodgers the whole offseason to heal, and at the very least the Packers didn’t compound the problem.
Rushing a player back from injury is arguably the worst thing you can do in the NFL, and in this case, the Packers can’t afford to take the risk.