COMMENTARY | It's so nice when bitter division rivals can look to the other for guidance. Unfortunately, in this case, it is Aaron Rodgers being able to learn from Jay Cutler's mistakes by deciding not to suit up against the hard-hitting Detroit Lions this Thanksgiving.
The Chicago Bears' Shea McClellin fractured Rodgers' collarbone on a sack in the first quarter of Chicago's Week 9 victory at Lambeau Field. Rodgers was expected to be out of the lineup for a significant amount of time, but speculation started ramping up that the Green Bay Packers' QB would try to give it a go on turkey day -- just three weeks after sustaining the injury.
Cutler knows all too well what can happen when you try to come back too quickly from injury. After tearing his groin muscle against the Washington Redskins in Week 7, Cutler rested only two weeks before getting back on the field to play the Lions. In the game, Cutler was battered and bruised by the tough Detroit front seven. His mobility became noticeably limited as the game wore on until he was finally knocked out of the game with a separate ankle injury.
Cutler has now missed the last two Bears games and does not yet appear ready to make it back for Sunday's division showdown with the Minnesota Vikings. Coming back too soon has certainly cost the Bears' franchise quarterback more games than if he had just waited until he was fully healthy.
Rodgers now faces the same decision, against the same opponent that sent Cutler back to the trainer's room, when the Packers travel to Detroit to break bread and pass the stuffing with the Lions on Thanksgiving. The Packers tied with the Vikings 26-26, after neither team could score in overtime in Week 12, forcing Green Bay to face the real possibility of a lost season if they fall to the Lions Thursday. Even though the Pack beat Detroit in Green Bay earlier this season, a loss here would move them to 5-6-1 while the Lions would push their record to 7-5.
Whereas the Bears were able to turn to Josh McCown to weather the storm of not having Cutler in the lineup, the Packers lost their backup, Seneca Wallace, to a groin injury in the first game he came in to replace Rodgers, causing Green Bay to replace their replacement with Scott Tolzien, only to have him be benched for poor play. Ironically enough, the team who only used three different starting quarterbacks from 1992 to 2012 will be forced to start their fourth different QB of the season when Matt Flynn makes the start for Green Bay on Thanksgiving.
As much as Rodgers would like to try and play, he does really need to take some advice from his division rival and make the decision Cutler would love to go back in time and try again. If Rodgers were to play and injure the collarbone again, the recovery is said to be in the range of five to six months, at which point, the Packers would be jeopardizing their 2014 season as well. As much as Chicago fans would love to see terrible times befall their hated foes, even they know the Packers are best served to make sure Rodgers is 100 percent healthy before feeding him to the Lions.
Dalton Russell has covered the Chicago Bears in print and online media since 1998. He lives just outside the shadow of the iconic architecture of Soldier Field.
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