The Packers have lost some star players this season, including Pro Bowl receiver Javon Walker, backup running back Najeh Davenport and promising rookie receiver Terrence Murphy. However, without Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green in the game plan each week, Green Bay's offense officially became one-dimensional.
Brett Favre can only do so much, and opposing defenses know that, especially good opposing defenses, like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, which the 1-5 Packers happen to face in the next month.
When the Packers lost Najeh Davenport there was still a glimmer of hope for Green Bay's struggling rushing attack because of the presence of Green. Green was injured earlier this month at Carolina. He came back on Sunday and ran hard until his tender, but healthy, quadriceps tendon in his right leg went ka-put.
Today we officially were told by Coach Mike Sherman that any chance of Green Bay remaining competitive in the woeful NFC North Division also went ka-put because Green will not be able to play the rest of the season. A division winner usually has a solid running game, like the Packers have had the last three seasons. A division champ usually has good passing, which the Packers have always had with Brett Favre, and a decent defense.
The Packers again have a decent passing game, though that took another hit when Robert Ferguson went down with a knee injury Sunday. He likely will miss the next two to four weeks. With the Packers down to their third-string and free agents at running back, they have run out of bullets to win another NFC North title. Green Bay's defense has been decent at times this season, but special teams have contributed exactly nothing.
Green gave the Packers some hope of re-establishing the team's rushing attack. Even after getting caught from behind by the Vikings Sunday, the Packers were still not out of it in the division. Without Green, they are because of a domino effect of what is to come. Opponents can now focus on shutting down the passing game and forcing the Packers to punt more. With the defense on the field more often than not, it will wear down faster than normal. That means lots of points for Packers' opponents. This is not a pretty forecast for Green Bay but realistic.
Yes, the Packers have 10 games to play. The season is far from over, but the loss of Green represents the final nail in the coffin for this young, beat-up team.
Can you say Reggie Bush? He might be available when the Packers pick high in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.