As Packers fans await the prognosis on the left shoulder of Aaron Rodgers, the difference between the Vikings and teams like the Packers was made obvious.
In a moment ironic of the January playoff game between the Vikings and the Packers when it was announced that Joe Webb was going to be the starter after Christian Ponder was ruled out 90 minutes before game time, when Aaron Rodgers was slammed on his left shoulder on the opening drive of Monday night's game, Packers fans swallowed hard.
The Packers experienced Monday night what their opponent in their playoff game discovered shortly before taking the field – their starting QB who had taken every snap of the season wasn't going to be with them the next time they went on the field. It was going to be somebody completely new and different.
The Vikings' reaction to that problem was obvious and swift. Webb is no longer a quarterback and the team wasted little time in signing Matt Cassel. When Josh Freeman became available, the Vikings jumped at the chance to sign him. It can be argued the Vikings were looking for depth at quarterback. Just midway through the season, they have had three different starting quarterbacks and may give all three a shot in the second half to see if they can find a hot hand and run with it.
The Packers, like a growing number of teams in the NFL, kept just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. As the backup, they have Seneca Wallace, who hadn't taken a regular-season snap since 2011 – and it showed.
The Vikings have spent the last 10 months looking to find an answer to their quarterback problem. The Packers may be looking at missing Rodgers for an extended period of time. The replays of the injury look like the type that break or strain collarbones.
Even if Rodgers isn't significantly injured, it sent a quick wake-up call to the Packers organization. The Packers have lost Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga and Jermichael Finley. All of those players combined don't mean as much to the difference between winning and losing as potentially not having Rodgers.
Rodgers gave the thumbs up to fans, but the situation the Packers are in today is eerily similar to what the Vikings were in the moments after their playoff loss at Green Bay. They need to address the Ground Zero scenario at quarterback. The Packers haven't had to deal with that problem in a generation. Brett Favre was an ironman and Rodgers wasn't far behind. Suddenly faced with it, they may have the same realization the Vikings have.
Minnesota has struggled without an elite quarterback on their roster. It can be argued that Rodgers is the most complete quarterback in terms of throwing and running of any of the game's top QBs. If he is out for any extended period of time, the Packers will struggle and struggle badly.
Teams get their wake-up call when their franchise quarterback goes down. Matt Cassel did a solid job in relief of Tom Brady in 2008, but the Pats were a much different and less potent offense without Brady. Even more pronounced was Indianapolis without Peyton Manning. If Rodgers' injury proves to be minor, the Packers 2013 season will remain on course and likely playoff bound. If the injury keeps him out for more than a week or two, it could be catastrophic. Either way, keep an eye on the Packers in the coming days and months to see how they address their backup QB situation. Rodgers is the topic of discussion in every town in Wisconsin this morning. We'll learn more today about his condition and prognosis. But, just as the Vikings found where their QB situation sat without Ponder in January, the need for a viable backup is going to be addressed by the Packers – likely in the coming days (Matt Fynn reunion?) and down the line whether in free agency or the draft.
We saw how such an injury impacted the Vikings. How will it affect Green Bay? Stay tuned, because we're not doctors – although we pretend to be when describing injuries.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Rodgers' shoulder bearing plenty of weight
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