Aaron Rodgers (USA Today Sports)
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy officially ruled out Aaron Rodgers playing Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and it's at the point now where we must ask if Rodgers' season is done, too. Because, what's the point of playing Rodgers in Week 15 or beyond, exposing his broken collarbone to further injury?
The Packers must pass four teams just to get into the crowded NFC playoff picture, which likely would require the team winning out. Although there might not be a fearsome defense left on the team's schedule, you can't risk further injury for Rodgers.
There is such a massive gap between Rodgers and any other quarterback the Packers currently have or could possibly acquire as a backup next season, and the last thing you want is Rodgers — who turned 30 this week — going into an offseason rehabbing and not spending as much time preparing for 2014.
McCarthy does not want to undermine the locker room by sitting Rodgers if he has a chance to play, and a few more Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien appearances could do just that. Plus, Rodgers will not take to sitting favorably, and the failure to land a quality Plan B has been more of a failure of general manager Ted Thompson than it has of McCarthy. But Rodgers has not been cleared medically yet, there's no guarantee he will next week, either, and there's little value in sending him out there to the dogs in a game that might not vault the Packers into the playoff dance.
Let's say Rodgers did ride in on his white horse and managed to help the Packers qualify for the postseason. Is there evidence they could do much damage, other than perhaps a first-round win over a shaky Dallas Cowboys or Detroit Lions team? The Packers' problems were cloaked by Rodgers' amazing skills before the injury, but it would be asking the moon for him to suddenly return and do just as good a job of it.
The smart move would be to shut him down for this season and live to fight another battle. The Packers could be NFC favorites next year with a few shrewd moves this offseason. But they can't do it without a healthy — and highly motivated, if he's forced to sit — Rodgers at the helm.
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