By the sixth week of an NFL season, you should have an idea of who’s good, who’s bad, who matters, and who should just give up now. Not this year.
Not when the Steelers get stomped by Jacksonville one week and then go into Arrowhead and beat Kansas City the next. Not when the allegedly tanking Jets were a bizarre replay ruling away from beating the defending Super Bowl champs. Not when Adrian Peterson gets traded to Arizona for a couple of footballs and suddenly starts tearing it up. And not when the Giants lose every game and then lose every receiver who matters, and then go into Denver and beat the Broncos. Six weeks into the season, nobody knows anything.
The only thing you can know is that every week, guys are going to get injured. And not just run of the mill guys. Huge names. David Johnson. Dalvin Cook, Julian Edelman, Odell Beckham Jr, J.J. Watt, Marcus Mariota. Derek Carr came back from a busted back, but Jameis Winston went out. Leonard Fournette picked up a foot injury yesterday, and then there’s Aaron Rodgers and this play that took years off the lives of Packer fans.
And if the shot that Rodgers took from Anthony Barr was bad, the tweet from the official Packers twitter account was even worse: “QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone. There’s a chance he could miss the rest of the season.”
There’s no sugar-coating this one. It’s terrible. As Randall Cobb said, “It’s devastating, no question about it. First and foremost, it’s one of my closest friends, so to see him go down with that, it’s tough. But we’ve still got to play football. We’ve got a long season ahead of us, and we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do.”
Absolutely brutal. For Rodgers. For the Packers. And the league. I know the league’s unofficial motto is “next man up” but you can’t “next man up” Aaron Rodgers. There is no next man. Because as nice as Brett Hundley was at UCLA, he’s not Aaron Rodgers. Nobody is. And the Packers aren’t the Packers without him. Rodgers was the one who’d carried them through all the other injuries, and there more injuries to come yesterday. Green Bay finished yesterday’s loss to the Vikings without their starting quarterback and without 60 percent of their starting offensive line.
Clay Matthews said afterwards, “Comical is not the right word, but it’s almost ridiculous because of the luck — the lack of luck — we’ve had, Over the years, it seems like we’ve been hit by the injury bug, this year more so than any. You can try and have a next-man-up mentality, but at the same time there’s only so many guys we can get in there.”
With Rodgers, they could get through just about any injury, except an injury to Rodgers. And yes, I know that the Packers reached the playoffs the last time Rodgers missed time with an injury. And that they did it with guys like Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Matt Flynn. So I’m not telling Packer players to give up on the season, but it sure as hell won’t be easy at all.
And yes, I can see why Packer fans and Packer players were bent about Anthony Barr’s hit on Rodgers.
Matthews said: “I saw Aaron jawing at him. Aaron can take a hit and get up and respect it, but I’m sure he had a little something to say and rightfully so.” Brett Hundley added he didn’t think Rodgers cared for the hit: “I’m sure he didn’t, yeah. I mean, who would?”
I know the league office didn’t like it. It’s terrible for the league that one big name after another is going down. Better put Tom Brady in bubblewrap and only break him out for games because between Odell, J.J. and Aaron, that’s half the NFL commercials on the sideline right now. But this is football. It is violent. And the players are bigger, faster, and stronger than they were even a few years ago. And the collisions are that much more brutal. But you best believe that there are people in the league office trying to see what, if anything, can be done about this because a league of backups isn’t what anyone wants to see.