Packers Cannot Exterminate Injury Bug, Must Carry On

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Ryan Grant Injury
The Packers have seen way too much of this scene in 2013 and have to find a way to win the next few games

As of Thursday of this week, there were 13 players listed on the Green Bay Packers injury report.  Of those, only two participated in full.  Now that the 2013 season is in it’s 12th week, it is probably safe to say that injuries are going to continue to be the story of this year’s Packers team.

This is not a news flash to anyone familiar with the Packers or, really, anyone who follows NFL football.  For the past four seasons, the Packers have become notorious for being among the league leaders in lost time due to player injuries.  We know that the Green Bay medical staff operates on the conservative side and I’m being liberal in using that term.  Yes, that was corny, but it’s hard to argue its truth.

Often when there is a question about a player’s readiness to return to the field or be activated, the team will hold the player back to allow more time to heal.  In theory, this seems wise, but the Packers don’t appear to be reaping the rewards of being so cautious.

Each week it seems that more and more new bodies are added to the injury report.  Still, the Packers have to continue playing their games.  Having depth is one thing and we all know how previous Packers teams have overcome injuries to do great things, but if there is a “one too many” point, it is now.

That may actually be the good news.  The team knows they are, for all intents and purposes, more short handed than they can afford to be at this point in the season.  But at least they are aware of it.  The bad news is that it will probably continue and could get worse.  Call it the law of averages, a negative outlook or a mere prediction on my part.

With a divisional matchup against the Minnesota Vikings coming up this weekend and sitting at 5-5, the Packers are in desperate need of a win.  A loss would not necessarily end Green Bay’s season, as many have proclaimed (many of whom declared this as soon as Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder hit the Lambeau Field turf), but it would likely take help from other teams to salvage it.

Heading into this season, the Packers were without starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga, safety Morgan Burnett, and slot cornerback Casey Hayward.  Outside of that, the rest of the team’s starters were healthy and ready to go.  Week by week, bodies began to fall.  Many other regular contributors missed at least some time and left many to wonder how the Packers would fare without them.  Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb, James Jones, Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, Jermichael Finley, Rodgers, Seneca Wallace, Don Barclay  and Sam Shields, to name a few.

It’s easy to point to the injury to Rodgers as the “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.  Any team losing its starting quarterback is going to see drop-off between them and the backup.  In Green Bay, that drop off looks like Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Originally the backup was Seneca Wallace.  That experiment lasted most of one game and a series of another.  Wallace then joined the ranks of the injured and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

In stepped Scott Tolzien at quarterback.  For the first time in a very long time, Packers fans had no idea what to expect at the quarterback position heading into a game.  As we know, Green Bay has lost the two games that Tolzien has played the majority of.  While wins and losses are what truly matter, the silver lining is Tolzien’s improvement and the Packers’ seeming discovery of their backup quarterback of the future.

Tolzien’s improved play each week has been no accident.  With his studious approach to the game and stories of his falling asleep while studying his playbook, Tolzien has given Packers head coach Mike McCarthy the confidence to continue opening up the playbook.  Proof of this was in the play action calls that were made against the New York Giants this past week.  Tolzien hit on most of his throws of 15 yards and longer.

This improvement should be an example to the rest of the Packers depth that they can improve in as little as a week, even if only slightly.  A slight improvement can be the difference between a win and a loss.  Winning tends to fix many things within a football team and organization.  If the Packers can take down the Vikings, they can carry that confidence just four short days ahead into Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

I’m not implying that confidence is enough to beat the division-leading Lions at home.  But we have been harping on the depth, and lack thereof, since Rodgers went down.  Many have blamed general manager Ted Thompson for his lack of attention to the backup quarterback and safety positions.  Others have blamed the play calling and some claim the Packers simply lack heart and desire.

I’m not siding with any of the above, but what I do know is that the 53 men who are on this roster will be called on to win the games on the schedule.  Like I said earlier, the games will carry on and so the Packers need to as well.  There is no promise nor guarantee that Cobb or Rodgers will be back this season.  The prospects look good, but injuries can take many turns and some not for the better.  These players simply need to decide that they can win.  Winning is an attitude and it is contagious.

It starts with Sunday’s game and whether it’s Clay Matthews or Nate Palmer, Morgan Burnett or Jerron McMillian, Aaron Rodgers or Scott Tolzien, the Packers need every guy’s best effort to showcase that they can win a game.  From there, make it two and hopefully by then, Rodgers can return and everything will be right in the world!  That is, until they still have to play the games and nothing is a given in this NFL.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • Razer

    Jason you are right about the carry-on mode for this team. I doubt that any organization can draft, buy or plan for so many injuries. The Packers have probably done better than most, until “the man” went done. There are two things that trouble me about the ‘make-shift’ Packers.

    Defense was played confused and reactionary before and after the injury bug. Are the schemes too complicated? Are the systems poorly designed or poorly coached? I am not sure that the source of the erratic play is injury based. I fear that having enough talent isn’t enough to overcome this 3-4 nightmare. New guys trying to figure out a complex scheme is bound to slow down good athletes.

    Offensively, we are trying to cover for the missing “man”. I know that MM likes to script out the game and he has done that for the new guy. Still, McCarthy needs to read the other team to make sure that we are not further handicapping a bad situation. Plowing the ball into a run-dominant defense all but ensured the end result. Mike needs to take what he can during the game and be more creative about this offense. There is enough talent to get the job done on Sunday. The coach shouldn’t be the impediment.

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    Of course the injuries is the main reason this team is 5-5 and not 9-1 or 8-2.

    BUT the team could still be 8-2 if the defense could, you know, play defense. The offense has been the side that’s been absolutely destroyed by injuries.

    It’s the defense that has proven the biggest problem with the smallest amount of excuse.

    • Stroh

      THe Defense has been playing w/o Perry and Hayward. Not to mention a very limited Matthews. Matthews missed 4 game and playing w/ a cast on your hand is very limiting. Perry has missed about 1/2 the season at this point and Hayward basically the entire year. You may want to dismiss some of that but OLB is THE Playmaking position in a 34 D and the Packers playmaking OLB haven’t been able to make plays due to the injuries. Hayward is the best playmaker in the seconday from his slot CB position. That’s what should be your 3 best playmakers on D that have either missed significant time and trying to play w/ a limiting injury or not playing at all. I simply don’t see how you can minimize the effect that has on a D.

      Think about taking Hali, Houston and Brandon Flowers off KC D. Do you think that wouldn’t have a HUGE, I mean HUGE effect on their D?!! Comon man, I know your smarter than that..

      • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

        I understand what you are saying. But the fact is that the defense has failed to execute under Capers against capable offensive teams for all but 1/2 of 1 year. That’s not acceptable. Regardless of injuries.

        What you say about CM3 and mayyybe Hayward (he’s shown it for 1 year, not 5) is true. Not Perry. He’s been a bust that has done no more than flash 4-5x a year so far.

        IMO Capers has to fix it this year, with the hand he’s been dealt. Or he has to go.

        Take the offense for granted. How much has MM’s offense sucked since 2007? Maybe the first half of 2010 and right now.

        And they’ve had just as many injuries of import. Just sayin…

        • Stroh

          Fact remains Perry is playing a playmaking position and he is the preferred starter at that position. He made some plays when he subbed for Matthews at ROLB. Seems like when he’s healthy and with Matthews still severely limited by his cast that Perry should be the ROLB w/ Matthews playing LOLB.

          I’m more than ready to move on from Capers, no problem w/ that. Just saying your taking the 3 player in the best playmaking positions off the field is gonna severely affect the D. Not to mention the playcalling.

  • Dobber

    Heyward to IR. Richardson and Worthy activated from PUP.

    http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/7529

    • Dobber

      At this point, Micah Hyde has now become too valuable to be returning punts and kicks.

      • Stroh

        He’s the #4 F’in CB hoe the fuck can you say he too valuable to return kicks?! By that reasoning the #5 WR wouldbe too valuable. And the 3rd TE and the 5th RB, oh and the #4 qb too.

        What the hell isn’t to valuable in your mind? Anyone on the active roster? Sheesh

      • Stroh

        If you ask me the fact that w/o Cobb thr Packers were doing fine on offense means Cobb needs to be back returning kicks! Hell he shouldn’t have ever been taken off returns in the 1st place!

      • Dobber

        Would you really like to see Jarrett Bush as your nickel corner?

        • Stroh

          Let me say this again. He’s the #4 freakin CB!!! And your afraid of losing him?! Do you have any f’in idea how DUMB that makes you sound? He’s the #4 CB!!!

        • Dobber

          Seems to me that I’m not the one dropping the F-bomb over a post regarding the #4 corner. I wonder whose post says more about them…

          • Stroh

            You play it safe… I play to F’in WIN!

  • SDPackfan

    Why would anyone count on Perry to be productive and on the field in 2014?

    He had a knee injury before he went on IR with a wrist injury last year. This year he had a broken foot and then an ankle. I’ll go out on a limb and label him injury prone.

    Sadly, he was also behind Walden (Erik Walden) last year and behind Neal this season before the injuries.

    Whether he is a bust is open for debate but there is no debate that he is another 1st round pick who has contributed virtually nothing.

  • Tarynfor12

    I’m happy to see others seeing Perry for what he’s been/is and most likely will always be…just a guy….with growing injury concerns.

    Game six has come and gone….no impact and its now week 11….ouch!

  • GBPDAN

    The injury situation in GB is ridiculous. Its mind boggling. Bulaga , Harris, Finley, Hayward, Wallace all out for the year. Perry, Rodgers, Burnett, Mathews, Cobb, B jones, J Jones, Shields, Barclay, Sherrard, Tretter, Richardson, Worthy, Starks, Taylor, Quarless all missing multiple games. EDS, Lang, Lacey , jolly, Mulumba all missing at least one game. WTF is going on with this snake bit team? I keep thinking we will get a couple of guys back each week, but instead, we lose more. I’m feed up with the Green Bay Mash unit! I’ve never seen nothing like it.