Ryan Grant, Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley, and Clay Matthews, how many Pro Bowl quality players can one team afford to lose?
A season that started out with unlimited promise is slowly unraveling before the eyes of Packers nation. Despite sitting over .500 the Packers have yet to play a good game start to finish and are becoming more and more banged up week by week.
After the first game saw the Packers lose star running back Ryan Grant, it appeared that even more emphasis would be on quarterback Aaron Rodgers to carry the load for this team. In addition the team would have to get a strong weekly effort from an improving defense.
Although the team stumbled on a Monday night in Chicago, the wins were still coming and the combination of Rodgers and a Clay Matthews-led defense was working. Matthews led the league in sacks and was terrorizing QBs on a play by play basis. In addition Rodgers was spreading the ball around the field beautifully, although tight end Jermichael Finley certainly stood out as a favorite target.
It seemed as if the Packers would be able to overcome their lack of a running game and still be a playoff favorite. That is until the wheels came off Sunday afternoon in Washington.
First the Packers not only saw Finley go down with an early injury, but his backup Donald Lee was also forced to leave the game on the same play he caught a touchdown pass. Losing Finley and Lee certainly hurt Rodgers who was left with limited weapons and still a lackluster running game.
Despite all this the Packers were still in control of the game as the Redskins offense could barely move the ball. The Packers pass rush was unrelenting, centering around the play of Matthews of course. Then when Matthews was forced to leave the game the pass rush weakened and the Redskins all of a sudden had new life on offense.
The Packers still had chances to win the game, but a missed Mason Crosby field goal forced overtime. It was in that overtime that the cherry was put on top of a dreadful day as Aaron Rodgers was concussed throwing the interception that eventually led to Green Bay's second loss.
Looking at all these injuries at once is really quite staggering. You have the concussed quarterback whose status is questionable and the star running back who is out for the year. Throw in the top two tight ends on the depth chart and it is staggering that we haven't even gotten to the defense yet.
On this side of the ball we have a middle linebacker in Nick Barnett who is likely out for the year. An injury to Ryan Pickett on the defensive line that could have him miss several weeks. You can add safety Derrick Martin to the list of secondary casualties that already includes Atari Bigby, Al Harris, and Morgan Burnett. Not to mention that Pro Bowlers Charles Woodson and Nick Collins are playing through injuries.
Last but not least, possible the most valuable weapon on defense Clay Matthews is uncertain on whether or not he will be able to go next week.
So from here the Packers have far more questions than answers. If Rodgers can come back the season should be salvageable as he can keep this team in games and hopefully put up big enough numbers to win. But if Rodgers has to miss even a week or two the season could be lost in the hands of backup Matt Flynn
The Dolphins come into Green Bay this week and the Vikings are waiting on deck. We will not know until later in the week what the status is of many of these players but by next weekend we might have an idea of whether this Packers season is destined to continue tumbling or possibly rebound.