Never was this more evident than on Monday Night Football when Rodgers suffered an injury while getting slammed to the turf in the first quarter. Without him, Green Bay's passing game retreated into a deep, dark hole, and the team lost 27-20 to the Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears.
After a trip to the locker room, it was determined that the All-Pro quarterback had suffered an injury to his collarbone. He was ruled out for the rest of the game, as noted by ESPN's SportsCenter and the Packers on Twitter:
UPDATE: Aaron Rodgers has a left collarbone injury and is out for the game. #MNF— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 5, 2013
Rodgers is officially out for the game. Just announced in press box. #CHIvsGB— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 5, 2013
With Rodgers out of the game, Green Bay was forced to rely on veteran journeyman Seneca Wallace to step in and run the team's offense. Wallace didn't waste much time before he threw an interception, and the team finished with just 113 passing yards.
The Packers quickly abandoned the passing game in favor of a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy on the ground.
It's the price teams pay when investing in one of the league's premier quarterbacks, and it's one that will cost the Packers dearly if Rodgers is forced out of action for any length of time.
Granted, Lacy was incredibly effective against Chicago, rushing for 150 yards and a touchdown. However, the Bears hadn't exactly been world-beaters against the run before Monday night's game, allowing 117.3 rushing yards per game and eight rushing touchdowns.
While Wallace is capable of keeping the ship afloat (barely) while Rodgers is out—however long that may be—he's an over-the-hill passer who was never terrific, even in his prime.
He can't stretch defenses vertically like Rodgers, he isn't nearly as accurate on timing patterns and he's prone to turning the ball over (18 interceptions in 21 career starts before Monday's game).
Even if Green Bay featured its full contingency of receivers, Wallace doesn't have the ability to work the ball to all points on the field like Rodgers. But the Packers are banged up all over the place, which only further highlights Wallace's limits.
He finished Monday night's game completing 11 of his 19 attempts for 114 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.
Teams will have an easier time defending the Packers' passing attack as long as Wallace is in the game, which would allow them to focus more on stuffing Lacy and the ground attack.
How far can Green Bay go if Rodgers is lost for the season?
Without Rodgers in the starting lineup, Green Bay's offense will resemble the one Alex Smith runs for the Kansas City Chiefs. It'll get the job done more often than not—provided Lacy continues to make big gains on the ground—but it'll be ugly.
However, the Packers don't feature a defense as strong as the one backing up Smith in Kansas City, and nobody should expect this team to go far without its star quarterback.
The best teams in the NFC will have no problem taking the Packers down as long as Rodgers is on the sideline instead of lining up behind center. If his injury keeps him out of the lineup for any significant amount of time, then the Detroit Lions will likely take the division.
Some teams can handle the loss of a starting quarterback, but the Packers aren't one of them. Rodgers is absolutely pivotal to this team's success.
But fans should hope for the best; Rodgers has proven to be one of the most durable quarterbacks in the NFL, as illustrated by ESPN Stats & Info:
Aaron Rodgers has missed only 2 games since becoming the Packers starter in 2008 (1 due to injury, 1 to rest in season finale).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 5, 2013
Thankfully, he was able to return to Green Bay's sideline during Monday night's game without a shoulder harness, as noted by NFL: AroundTheLeague:
Aaron Rodgers just walked to the Packers sideline in sweatpants and a hoodie. No visible shoulder harness.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) November 5, 2013
If Rodgers can make a swift return to action, then the Packers will be back in business as the team to beat in the NFC North. If not, then the Packers are no lock to even make the playoffs—let alone make a Super Bowl run.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78