Rodgers hurt2

If we were compelled by evilness and the darkness of our souls to create an environment in which the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears could play a football game with near equal amounts of bone mashing and muscle ripping, the resulting creation would look like last night.

The backup bowl is the immediate dubbing for what we watched, which would imply a game that was unbearable, and harmful to human eyes. Basically, it would describe every Thursday Night Football game ever. Not so, said Josh McCown, but then Seneca Wallace countered by nodding his head in shame.

Much like Ralph Wiggum in his ill-fated attempt at Valentine’s Day wooing, you could almost hear the exact second the heart of an entire state was ripped in two last night. In fact, it was captured by computer freeze frame technology…

For many in Wisconsin, the result was a complete loss of comprehensible speech for a prolonged period.

Aaron Rodgers left early in the first quarter when his non-throwing shoulder was drilled into the Earth below by Bears defensive end Shea McClellin, and while unconfirmed reports of a broken collarbone circulated last night because Internet, what we’re left with right now is a shoulder injury that awaits further evaluation (SCREAMING UPDATE: see below). His status for Week 10 is uncertain.

I don’t have to dig deep into fancy stats to tell you that the spiral down from Rodgers to Quarterback X who’s his backup is drastic and destructive for fantasy purposes. If Wallace is making just a spot start or two, fine. But if this turns into a more long-term injury, gulp.

As most backups are, Wallace is fine in a limited role and a handful of spot starts, especially given the Packers’ upcoming cushy schedule (vs. Eagles, @ Giants, vs. Vikings). But anything beyond that will make the severe drop in accuracy and arm strength glaring, which contributed to the Packers’ abrupt tumble in total offense last night (312 yards, when they were averaging 423.0) during an eventual 27-20 loss. There’s now a three-way tie atop the NFC North.

The flip side of Rodgers’ absence was quite enjoyable: Eddie Lacy smacking everything and everyone. Lacy rushed for 150 yards on just 22 carries, which included a 56-yard run. That long run was easily a high in his young, now seven-game career, as was his overall yardage at a pace of 6.8 per carry.

Not to take anything away from Lacy and running-mate James Starks, but the Bears run defense was exploited for what it’s now become: a warm and gentle hug. Due to repeatedly horrible gap control, they gave up 190 total rushing yards to Starks and Lacy, including two +30 yard runs.

On one of them (Starks’ 32-yard touchdown run) several military vehicles could have driven through the vacated space.

When the fullback runs through the hole and is then desperately still searching for someone to block, that’s bad.

But despite those widening holes, the Packers were out backup-ed. McCown was terrific while doing his best Jay Cuter impression minus the poor decisions and interceptions, and was at his most masterful while heaving a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall in the first quarter. McCown was in the grasp of the Packers’ enclosing pass rush, yet his off-balance throw still went deep to the back of the end zone, where Marshall made a diving catch.

So thank you, Josh, for making sure our worst fantasy fears didn’t become reality. While he didn’t throw deep often, McCown was more than capable when asked to target either Marshall or Alshon Jeffery in an intermediate range for chunk yardage. They both scored, and Marshall led all receivers with 105 yards.

Despite the quarterback glass cases that were broken on both sidelines, the Bears still averaged 5.9 yards per play, and Green Bay clipped along at 5.7 while powered by Lacy. The difference lied in the quality of those two backups. One was able to lead a game-sealing 20-play drive that chewed up nearly nine full minutes of clock. The other one threw an interception to Julius Peppers.

I may have half lied to you earlier, and I’m sorry if I betrayed your deep trust. The offensive injuries weren’t equal last night, though they were close to it. The Packers were more depleted while also missing Randall Cobb and Jermicheal Finley, along with Clay Matthews on the other side, and the Bears countered with having to start two rookie linebackers.

But given the depth of the Packers’ pass catching options and offense in general, they felt equal at kickoff. Jordy Nelson can and has taken on a larger role, ditto for James Jones, Lacy can seek and destroy as he did, and even Andrew Quarless has proven capable.

But without Rodgers, nothing is equal, and nothing is the same.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

Bad news, but maybe not horrible news

As I was writing the words above, Adam Schefter dropped this…

Before you go off to seek the nearest tall location, please note that further tests could come with pleasant news. Or this could get worse, so yeah start scouting those bridges now.

I’m torn here. Obviously, any Rodgers injury is a horrible Rodgers injury, but a potential three-week absence is quite minor. However, here’s what that means for anyone who took the plunge and invested a second-round fantasy pick in the Packers quarterback: possible doom.

Week 9 is now officially completed, and if Schefter’s early estimation is correct and Rodgers then only misses that minimum amount of time, he’ll be out until Week 13. That’s all kinds of horrible if you’re clawing for a playoff spot, because in many leagues the fantasy regular season ends in Week 13.

Fantasy implications aside, the aforementioned cushy schedule upcoming for the Packers makes a three-game absence (or possibly less) quite manageable, or at least as manageable as an Aaron Rodgers injury could possibly be ever.

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Hope for Robert Griffin III

Turning away from Bears-Packers, if you’re into excellent tape breakdowns, this look at Robert Griffin III by Matt Waldman is a great way to spending 10 minutes or so.

Griffin bears the brunt of the responsibility for his own struggles, but the Redskins’ personnel and offensive scheme has often failed him.

Washington’s offensive line continues to struggle even when there’s additional help and this places more pressure on its quarterback to make excellent decisions and execute at a near-perfect level in situations where there’s a higher degree of difficulty and potential for even greater criticism. Nothing like having a lower pass percentage with fewer receivers to target per play than your peers and more pressure while delivering that target.

No Words

What a backup can do for you

Elsewhere in excellence, J.J. Zachariason tells us how we should educate ourselves instead of inflicting bodily harm after leaving Nick Foles on the bench.

No one is expected to predict a seven-touchdown game, because that’s stupid talk. But as we’ve learned weekly this season, even though the NFL is inherently unpredictable, there’s an abundance of passing offense to be shared by all, including backup quarterbacks.

That’s resulted in ballooning numbers from former bench dwellers — like McCown’s 272 passing yards last night and two touchdowns, or even better, Case Keenum’s 350 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night — and remarkably as Zachariason notes, there’s already been 17 times when a backup has been a top 15 fantasy quarterback during a week.