Green and Bold: Worth the Risk

Early Wednesday, Packers team doctor Pat McKenzie and other medical experts were evaluating Aaron Rodgers' recent CT scan and deliberating whether the quarterback's collarbone had healed enough to clear him to return to the field in Week 15 as the Packers prepare to take on the Carolina Panthers. 

Late Wednesday evening, Rodgers himself confirmed that he has in fact been cleared to return for the first time since Week 6. 

As head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Monday afternoon, Rodgers did in fact undergo a CT scan and a bone density scan on Monday. He returned to pratice one week ago and has looked impressive, zipping the ball with ease despite the injury he suffered to his throwing shoulder less than two months ago. 

Rodgers' recovery always had an aggressive return option built in. As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported, Rodgers opted to have two plates and 13 screws installed in the bone to accelerate the healing process and allow this potential Week 15 return, which was always the earliest possible option after the team placed Rodgers on IR. 

Now, when the time finally came to make that decision, the Packers' medical staff deemed Rodgers' recovery advanced enough to return to the field. 

Rapoport pointed to the magic number as typically being 80 percent. If the bone is 80 percent healed, it's generally safe to clear the player to return to the field. Rodgers' plates and screws provide extra support to prevent a potential re-break. 

Still, what McKenzie and other medical experts have weighed is the risk of potential long-term injury to a franchise quarterback over the benefit of making a run for the playoffs with him back on the field. 

“At the end of the day, the organization is focused on doing what’s in the best interests of Aaron Rodgers’ health," McCarthy said in his Monday press conference. 

But what exactly is the long-term risk? 

According to David J. Chao (ProFootballDoc), the risk for re-injury isn't as great as you might think:

The risk here is if he were to fall or take a big hit on his clavicle.

However, he history of return to play is good after clavicle surgery. There are very few re-fractures.

If it were to happen, the fracture would likely not be in the same area, as Rodgers’ surgically repaired clavicle is protected with two plates. At the end of the plates is the weakest point and where it is most likely for him to suffer a fracture.

Re-injury would mean another surgery but would not likely jeopardize his career or him being able to play at the start of next season.

There is no scenario in which Rodgers' collarbone would have been completely healed this season. As Chao points out, that process takes up to six months. But the question is whether it reached that 80 percent threshold. 

McKenzie and the Packers medical staff is notoriously conservative (despite what Martellus Bennett might have you believe). Therefore, if McKenzie gave the sign-off for Rodgers to return to the field, the bone must have reached that 80 percent healed threshold at a minimum. 

Of course, knowing the bone is not fully healed means that there's a chance Rodgers could re-injure it as he plays out the remainder of the regular season, but the medical experts involved have deemd the immediate reward greater than that potential risk. 

Now, the reward part of the equation is obvious. To reach the Super Bowl, the Packers have to win out, and they have to do it against the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, and Detroit Lions. Then they have to win three more games in the playoffs, likely against some of those same opponents as well as, potentially, the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, and/or New Orleans Saints. 

Is that a hell of an ask? Sure. Can Aaron Rodgers do it? Absolutely. 

Week 14 felt, in many ways, supernatural. It reminded us of the mysterious forces at work in the NFL, which dictate that, in a moment, everything can change. The Eagles lost not only their first game in nine weeks, but their starting quarterback, as well. Seattle fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

The Packers have problems on defense. They've had injuries along the offensive line and at the running back position. 

But no team still in contention at this point in the season is perfect. And now, the Packers, who have gone 3-4 under backup quarterback Brett Hundley, have one of the league's greatest weapons at their disposal once again. 

This season may not have looked like a by-the-book Super Bowl campaign, but, then again, neither did 2010. As long as the Packers have Rodgers, they have a chance. And for that, informed by medical experts, his return not eight weeks after breaking his collarbone is a risk worth taking. 

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Comments (47)

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Ds300916's picture

December 13, 2017 at 06:20 am

If you're one of the fans disappointed in this news because you were rooting for the Packers to lose so they could fire coaches and personnel, I feel sorry for you. Run the table 2.0 is about to launch!

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NickPerry's picture

December 13, 2017 at 06:44 am

I think "Disappointed" or "Rooted" are really the wrong words when describing some fans feelings. Getting Rodgers back has NOTHING to do with how the Defense performs or what a putz Capers is. With Capers in charge the Packers have been blown out in the playoffs in 2011, 2012, 2016, and gave up a HUGE lead with 5:07 left in the NFCCG in 2014. Excuse us for our apprehension but what in the world makes you think the defense will change because the QB has changed?

We all were able to see what the Packers really are/were without Rodgers covering up the sore spots. Yes every team has "Sore Spots", but the Packers sure did seem to have a few more than we all thought once Rodgers was injured. Thompson was exposed during this Rodgers injury IMO. Maybe 'In Ted We Trust" just dosen't apply for some anymore. The people who continue to ignore that are the ones you SHOULD feel sorry for.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 06:48 am

"With Capers in charge the Packers have been blown out in the playoffs in 2011, 2012, 2016, and gave up a HUGE lead with 5:07 left in the NFCCG in 2014. "

2011 - Special circumstances in that game. Also the offense had 4 turnovers in that game.

2012 - BY FAR the WORST defensive performance we could have had.

2016 - The defense wasn't good. The offense did them no favors. And I wish we had our full arsenal of offensive weapons for that game. I'm not saying we would have won, just wish we had them and who knows what would have happened in that game. Our offense couldn't compete because we had no one healthy.

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scullyitsme's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:07 am

This says one of the guys leading the chant to fire everyone and tank the season. Yet another non fan that claims to be a fan by actively rooting against his team, (for its own good of course). Doom and gloomers are silly rabbits

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Bearmeat's picture

December 13, 2017 at 09:37 am

No. We have decent fan heads on our shoulders. NP is exactly right. Unless we get unlooked for contributions from VERY young players at CB and OLB, this defense WILL be our undoing if we even get to the playoffs.

And then, Capers won't be fired. Which he has deserved since 2012. We have the GOAT playing QB in the 21st century NFL. We SHOULD have THREE titles with him. Ugh.

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Finwiz's picture

December 13, 2017 at 09:03 am

Perfect post, sums up exactly how I feel.

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hodge555's picture

December 13, 2017 at 06:24 am

Go Pack Go!!!

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GBPDAN1's picture

December 13, 2017 at 06:26 am

Rodgers is a warrior and huge competitor. He's been chomping at the bit to play and help his teammates out. The medical staff of experts confirmed it's ok to play, so, Rodgers will play. He's a football player and this is such a football thing to do. This game has been filled with tough guys from the beginning.

As an outsider, I have big concerns that our D will not hold up to playoff caliber QBs. But, The players and team are not giving up. And that makes my chest fill with Packers pride

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 07:05 am

I also have those concerns. We saw Stafford tear apart our defense. We saw them unable to stop the Steelers offense.

The biggest difference is that with Rodgers we have a chance to stay in the games offensively. And we may get out to early leads which puts more pressure on opposing offenses to making mistakes.

I know with Rodgers at QB I will never give up hope!

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marpag1's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:05 am

I agree that running the table is a pretty tall order, given the teams we will play. However, IF the Packers are able to win those three, the odds of making the playoffs are actually quite good.

In some ways it's not the worst thing in the world to sneak in as a six seed this year.

1) If you win on wildcard weekend, it means you advance to take on the #1. Usually that's bad news, but this year's likely #1 (Philly) just lost their stud QB to an ACL injury. Aaron Rodgers vs. Nick Foles doesn't sound quite as imposing.

2) It might be good for Rodgers to have a winnable wildcard game (maybe the Rams?) to knock the last bits of rust off before coming up against the best teams standing.

Of course, ya still gotta win out....

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Nate-1980's picture

December 13, 2017 at 05:21 pm

Or it could be the Vikings as #1 which would be even sweeter to send them home after a promising year !! GO PACK

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 06:44 am

Great Article Michelle! I told you last night on Twitter I couldn't wait to see what you wrote today and you nailed it!

We have no idea at this point how the rest of the season will play out. But we do know that with Rodgers, anything is possible. We now have a chance, and with Rodgers that's all we need is a chance.

Simply put Rodgers changes the offense, he changes the defense, he changes the opposing teams strategy's. He is the ultimate game changer!

Now that we have a good running attack with Williams and Jones, they will have better opportunities now that defenses won't be able to stack the box against them. The running game should also help Rodgers in the return as he can hand the ball off more often especially when the defense is light up front.
That is one of the biggest advantages in getting Rodgers back, compared to Hundley. Rodgers knows how to change the offense based on the defensive personnel. He can change the play. He is like having a coach on the field.

Besides helping the run game out, Rodgers will also improve the passing game a ton. I think guys like Nelson, Cobb, Allison, Kendricks couldn't be more happy. They now will see the ball more their way.

Rodgers doesn't only impact the offense he now impacts the defense. First they will have the ball more, and not have as many 3 and outs, which means the defense gets more rest. But now teams will have that fear that Rodgers is on the sideline.

We all remember the Cowboys game and fan who posted this...

https://twitter.com/NFL_Memes/status/917839924858179586/photo/1?ref_src=...

We should all feel this way now....

Our season starts now!

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Nate-1980's picture

December 13, 2017 at 05:28 pm

Ha I never saw that pic, it’s hilarious, I said the same thing to my buddy when they scored.. I was like” but look how much time you gave him”.. Then he went from joy to worry.. I agree with your whole post, and can’t wait to see Rodgers with a quality run game( especially Jones if healthy enough).. I think we’ll see Kendricks become a way better threat now as well..

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GBPDAN1's picture

December 13, 2017 at 06:48 am

Wining that Steelers game would have been huge. It would have given us a buffer game. I hope AR isn't to Rusty and out of sync with the receivers as it's been 2 months of no live game action. We will probably need to score more than 30 in all 3 games left in the regular season .....and in the playoffs, due to our inconsistent pass rush and depleted CB situation (hope House and Perry come back soon).

Vikings have the #3 D and Carolina has the #5 D. This is a tall order . But, it's exciting because with Rodgers back, there's hope. I feel like this is a huge playoff week. I love big games

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Slim11's picture

December 13, 2017 at 07:09 am

Wish I could see this game. There are a couple of ways this could shake out for the Packers against Carolina.

First, GB goes back to a no-huddle offense which Rodgers runs as well as anyone. The down side to this is time-of-possession. Even when GB was 4-1 before Rodgers' injury, TOP was a problem leading the defense to be on the field more.

Two, GB changes its offensive philosophy and goes pedal-to-the-metal every time they have the ball. If a defense has a big lead, they tend to be more aggressive. MM CAN'T GO INTO "PREVENT OFFENSE" MODE!

Three...and I doubt this will happen...start Hundley, then bring Rodgers in just to mess with the Panthers' mentally.

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dobber's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:10 am

"First, GB goes back to a no-huddle offense which Rodgers runs as well as anyone. The down side to this is time-of-possession."

In general with ARod, the Packers have been a ball-control passing team over the last couple seasons. Last year they were fifth in the league in TOP without any kind of consistent run game. ARod likes to run the clock down, huddle or not. This season, the Packers were up and down in TOP with #12 under center. They crushed Seattle and got crushed by Dallas (not a shock there). In general, it was pretty even through those first five games.

My hope is that they run the ball effectively enough to force Carolina and Minnesota to keep from pinning their ears back and coming after QB1. Carolina got beat twice by the Saints this season and have really only blown out three teams (Miami, San Fran and Tampa). They tend to play close games. I'd like to see the Packers follow the Saints model: establish the RBs both in the run and pass game and take shots at Carolina's weak (relatively speaking) secondary when the chances present themselves. Williams and Jones aren't Kamara and Ingram, but I think there could be some success there.

"Three...and I doubt this will happen...start Hundley, then bring Rodgers in just to mess with the Panthers' mentally."

Yeah, I don't see that happening.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:41 am

Exactly right Dobber.

While they run the no huddle and get lined up, Rodgers rarely snaps the ball with more then 5 seconds on the play clock. But he can go up tempo when he needs to.

The Panthers do have a good pass rush. One way to negate that is to run the ball.
Williams since taking over as the starter is the 6th in the NFL in total yards and rushing yards. Also tied for 2nd in TD's per Zach Kruse.

Williams and Jones combo gives the offense real threats in the backfield. Something teams can't ignore. Having Rodgers back they will see a lot less 8-9 man fronts.
We do need them to take advantage of that.

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dobber's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:45 am

Carolina has a really good front 7 and two outstanding LBs in Kuechly and Davis. I would guess they'll try to stop the run out of nickel most of the time. It will be nice to see #87 and #18 get a little more play in this offense again.

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Nate-1980's picture

December 13, 2017 at 05:35 pm

Please no to three, I don’t even want Hundley to touch the same football as Rodgers.. He can chew his gum on the pine, or watch the game from home ha..:)

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Handsback's picture

December 13, 2017 at 07:24 am

Rodgers fixes one part of the team, the lack of CBs in numbers and quality will determine how far the Packers can go.

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Razer's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:41 am

Good assessment.

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Houndog's picture

December 13, 2017 at 07:34 am

Really mixed emotions here. Glad to see Rodgers' return and the boost it gives the offense but I wouldn't want to see him re-injured. For what?
With the lack of a decent D-coordinator, and the evident manpower shortage on that defense, a near miracle would be required to get very far.
Thanks again for another "Wait 'till next year" Ted, here's hoping you're not a part of it!

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Razer's picture

December 13, 2017 at 07:57 am

Putting seatbelt on - Click. Play hard and wipe the grin off of Newton's pretty face. Then punch Minnesota square in the mouth.

Go Packers!

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stockholder's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:09 am

For many, this is pros and cons. For many, they were licking their chops, wanting people fired. For many, they only cared about a rebuild, and draft status. A-Rod's recovery so soon is a miracle. The fact that he will start is a miracle. The fact that Arron Rodgers cares about his team, more than himself, is priceless. This could turn into a miracle season. One that A-rod himself will lead and prove to all. Miracles can happen.

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nostradanus's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:12 am

This should be interesting.
*Rodgers will give his team an immediate boost of energy
*Since his absence the Packers have had to become a more complete team, the last two overtime wins have showed their grit on Offense, Defense and Special Teams
*The Defense has not been great but they have been on the field a lot and have made just enough plays to win
*Now that the Packers actually have a running game that should take some of the pressure off Rodgers and the Defense
*I bet Jordy has a big game Sunday
*GO PACK!

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egbertsouse's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:17 am

This article is total bullshit. So is allthis playoff talk. I know this is a fan site but get real, they have just mortgaged their future for a pipe dream. I hope he doesn’t get crushed the first time Spriggs whiffs.

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scullyitsme's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:25 am

That’s awesome! Love these “fans”all the doom and gloomers need their diapers changed today.

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dobber's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:42 am

I've now read several medical opinions that any injury severe enough to risk #12's future would likely have little to do with the existing break. I don't think they've mortgaged their future any more than if they'd put him on the field, otherwise.

I recognize the playoffs are a long shot. IMO, they have been since the Detroit loss. But they're essentially a "no-shot" without #12 on the field.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:46 am

This article is great. Its very well written, and if you have a problem with it because it doesn't fit in with your thoughts, then do yourself and everyone a favor and don't post crap.

IF you have to come on here and talk shit about the article that was very well written, you need to remove yourself from the site.

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:56 am

Or you can just read the disagreement until you're fed up and stop and move on to next comment that feels your heart and fantasy and puts your mind at ease.
This is what I do with my TV....I listen to CNN, CBS,NBC until I can't take their bs anymore and change the channel , then I weigh what I heard, read etc and form MY OPINION and then express it even knowing ,like them, that some or many will disagree.....It's not personal, just other people's thinking. A right bestowed on all...right?

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 09:04 am

I am tired of seeing the 'this article is bullshit' types of comments... These authors put a lot of time and energy into writing these articles and deserve a little more respect then that.

And I am noticing it seems to be happening to Michelle's articles a lot lately. Seems every week someone makes a comment like that.

If you don't like the article fine, but does anyone have to be an ass about it, right?

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mnbruton's picture

December 13, 2017 at 09:27 am

Thanks, RC. I really appreciate the kind words. I totally expected some replies saying that it WASN'T worth the risk, and I think the entire structure of the column invites those replies. It's called Green and BOLD, after all, and I want people to agree and disagree. But yes, there's a way to disagree without calling anyone's work "bullshit."

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Pauly's picture

December 13, 2017 at 09:49 am

Michelle, I am amazed at how prolific of a writer you are.
Please keep up the good and thoughtful articles. I enjoy your
insights.

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mnbruton's picture

December 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Thanks so much for reading, Pauly!

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 10:00 am

Michelle, I'm being honest. I really like your work. And you deserve more respect then that!

From comments on here lately I expected a lot of replies of it not being worth the risk. Mostly because most people don't believe that they can make it to the Super Bowl. Which means most would rather lose out the rest of the season to get a higher draft pick. Others think if they make it to the Playoffs they won't make coaching changes and will keep going as is...

I expected those types of comments.

I just get tired of seeing people bash the authors and especially your's which seems to be a theme lately. You don't deserve that nor does anyone else.
They can disagree, nothing wrong with that. But I would hope people can be decent about it. There is no need for being disrespectful!

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:46 am

All this ' Run the Table ' 2.0 is a little misleading in it's meaning or not, since ' Run the Table ' 1.0 was a failure. Unless it's about doing what we do best without the cliche label....get in the playoffs and lose at some point. I don't believe I missed a Packers SB appearance since the last one in 2011.

I'm as excited as any that Rodgers is back but the issues this team has will now be covered up with a thin coat of Rodgers paint which hasn't been enough in the past and likely not now. Hope I'm wrong.

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Nate-1980's picture

December 13, 2017 at 05:45 pm

I feel the same way, but for some reason I think this team is going to be highly motivated and play better overall.. I think we can beat any of the playoff teams as long as Rodgers has a good game and crappy/ untimely turnovers don’t happen.. But it’s just a gut feeling, and they could come out flat as a board and I wouldn’t be surprised either..

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Since'61's picture

December 13, 2017 at 08:51 am

Worth the risk? Absolutely!!! You play your best players and if you get beat you get beat with your best players on the field. No excuses. Take no prisoners. Win or go home. That's where the Packers are now.

I just hope that the Packers go pedal to the metal regardless of the score or the time remaining. Rodgers is back, don't waste the opportunity. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 13, 2017 at 09:38 am

"... Rodgers is back, don't waste the opportunity. "

If there is one door that 'Opportunity ' may be tired of knocking on is the Green Bay Packers, they never seem to answer it...at least in the manner desired.

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SpudRapids's picture

December 13, 2017 at 10:17 am

who answers it better? let me guess... the Patriots. Who else? Since McCarthy has been the coach only the Steelers and the Patriots have won mulitple super bowls with 2 each. Only the Patriots have a longer playoff streak than the Packers. It takes luck to win the Superbowl whether you agree or not. Look at the things that went right for the Patriots vs. the Falcons that were sheer luck. In a game of inches like the NFL and a single elimination playoff where anything can happen you can't measure the ultimate success of an organizations by superbowls alone. You can, however, look at a franchise and grade it off who puts their team in position to make a run at the championship every year and no one has done it better than the Packers/Patriots.

We obviously disagree on the measure of success but I think I take a more realistic barometer as my guide than you and that's your choice. But I think it's misguided to sit here day in and day out and proclaim they have no chance because of their defense and rule them out before the run is even complete. The odds are unlikely I get that but the NFL is weird and you can't chalk everything up to statistics. And don't give me the I'm a realist crap... being pessimistic about your team accomplishes two things 1.) You're wrong and they win but you're wrong and you can't enjoy it 2.) You're right and your team still lost so you still are miserable. Don't rag on the fans who enjoy the "hope." It's fun to know we have chance even if it's unlikely. We are not delusional, however, we like the thrill of the long shot. You are not accomplishing anything by trying to suppress our hope. You just come across as a cynic.

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 13, 2017 at 10:58 am

You sir are the best at ' reading' into things that aren't said by another.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 10:59 am

I agree with most of what you said.

The one note though is the Giants also won 2 Super Bowls since McCarthy has taken over as the Head coach. So Giants, Steelers, and Patriots have won more Super Bowls as the Packers.

Also as another note. Since McCarthy has taken over as head coach in 2006, there have been 9 Super Bowl winners.

Patriots, Steelers, Giants, Packers, Colts, Saints, Ravens, Seahawks, Broncos.

The truth is, if your expectations each and every year is super bowl or bust, you're most likely to be disappointed. Its not easy to get to the Super Bowl and its not easy to win it.

The Patriots are considered the best team in the league virtually year in and year out. And in the 12 years since McCarthy has taken over as Green Bay's coach, the Patriots have won 2 super bowls... If they are the best team shouldn't they have won 4+? Its not easy.

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Since'61's picture

December 13, 2017 at 11:16 am

RC - not only are your correct as usual but the 2 SBs the Pats have won since 2006 when MM took over are 2 games that they should have lost.

Not using Marshawn Lynch at the goal line in the 2014 SB, or at least having in the backfield was a ridiculous call by Seattle. And the Pats victory over Atlanta, last season was another win handed to them by the Atlanta coaching staff. On 2 occasions all they had to do was hand off the ball and it was game over. They really should be 0-4 in SB's since 2006. Where would B&B then? Probably on R&R. Thanks, Since '61

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 11:30 am

Oh I completely agree. To be fair though, the 2 they lost they could have won too. It took a couple of miraculous catches by the Giants to win. But that is part of the game.

If New England proved anything in those games, is that this game is decided by inches, not miles. Anything can happen in these games... But yes, they shouldn't have won those 2 games.

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Pauly's picture

December 13, 2017 at 10:05 am

Hundley surprised me with his 4th quarter performances and 3 wins.
He also demonstrated that his future is only in that nether world of backup QBs for minimum salary.
I was looking forward,, IF AR was out for season,, to a once in a generation opportunity to re-stocking the team with high draft picks.
I can see an argument for keeping Hundley a few more years as a knowledgeable and experienced QB backup instead of using 4/5th round picks on a QB project which usually doesn't work out anyway. Where else will Hudley be able to make a $million a year.
The Packers need the QB draft pick spots over next few years to improve weak parts of the team.

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Packer_Fan's picture

December 13, 2017 at 10:39 am

I like this decision. Not much a chance to re-break but our franchise is chomping at the bit to get back in and play. Keep Rodgers happy and give us another chance at a Superbowl. There will be lingering questions on the side of the defense regarding talent and coaching. Those questions will need to be answered after the season ends. But for now let's run the table. Are there any veteran cornerbacks available to help short-term? We should look for those guys.

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Spock's picture

December 14, 2017 at 09:41 am

Michelle, I always enjoy your articles and am always amazed anyone would take a personal shot at you. From all I've read there is no great "risk" of re-breaking his collarbone (at least in the same spot), so unless he would get slammed on the collarbone (unlikely) he is at no greater risk than any other game. Rodgers is ultracompetitive so he, of course, wants to play. I'm more concerned about how "football" ready he will be and will his throws show some "rust". I'm encouraged that reports of his scout team work indicate his throws are on target and he looks as good as ever! One interesting comment on another site that RC might enjoy is that Rodgers has been throwing to Michael Clark while on the scout team. Wouldn't it be fun to see a Rodgers to Clark (put in for that one play) throw on one play in the red zone to take advantage of Clark's 6'-6" height and leaping ability? LOL

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