Packers Periscope: Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

ALLGBP.com All Green Bay Packers All the Time

The Past: I’ve mentioned notable games of the past in this series (the Ice Bowl, Aaron Rodgers dismantling of the Falcons in the 2010 divisional game), but perhaps the most important game in the last decade for the Packers was their win in Super Bowl XLV in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Not only did it cement quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ position as one of the NFL’s elite players but it also justified Ted Thompson’s 6 year “draft and develop” philosophy which brought the Packers back from a salary cap nightmare.  Fans will remember Clay Matthew’s “It is time” moment of stripping the ball away from Rashard Mendenhall which preserved a Packers 4 point lead in the 4th quarter, but perhaps the biggest defensive play came from defensive tackle Howard Green, who knocked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s pass into the arms of safety Nick Collins, who returned the ball for a touchdown and at least historically sealed away the fate of the Steelers right then (no team has gotten a interception returned for a touchdown and lost the Super Bowl).

Moving back further, the Steelers and Packers last regular season game occurred in 2009 which quickly became a shootout; Rodgers threw for an impressive 383 yards but Roethlisberger proved even more dangerous, finishing the game with an astonishing 503 yards.  It also marked the rise of Jermichael Finley, who moved from a up and coming player to a serious receiving threat, which would continue until his injury in 2010.

The Present: The Steelers have been effectively eliminated from the playoffs; the Cincinnati Bengals have run away with the AFC North and are almost definitely going to win the division this year.  Baltimore trails behind Cincinnati, but also has a shot at a wild card berth.  Pittsburgh unfortunately only is predicted to get in as a wildcard team .8% of the time according to Football Outsiders, effectively making this game more of a statement game more than anything else.  Furthermore, the Steelers have always been a very deliberate and conservative organization and the coaching staff has not been rumored to be on the hot seat, this game probably does not have much meaning to the Steelers, aside for maybe extracting some revenge against the Packers for their Super Bowl loss.

On the other hand, with the Packers beating the Cowboys and more remarkably the Lions losing to a kicker, the Packers have effectively eliminated the Lions from the playoffs and if they win out they will claim the NFC North division for another year.  Hopefully this dichotomy of urgency gives the Packers a slight edge.  However most important again will be the health of Aaron Rodgers; obviously Matt Flynn is no where close to Rodgers, but Flynn has been just good enough to win his fair share of games, which is really all that can be asked from a backup quarterback.  At present, reports seem to indicate that Rodgers is unlikely to play again this week, which is huge advantage for the Steelers but they will probably have to prepare for the event that Rodgers does in fact make the game as a contingency, which again may help the Packers slightly.

The Future: The biggest issue with the Steelers is that they are getting old and while old players typically are in decline players, and more importantly old players are also more expensive players.  The Steelers are definitely on of the more “expensive” teams in the NFL, obviously two Super Bowl wins commands Ben Roethlisberger a sizable contract but their roster is also filled with aging, expensive player such as linebackers Lamar Woodley, safety Troy Polamalu, cornerback Ike Taylor and tight end Heath Miller.  Luckily, the Steelers front office is actually aware of the problem unlike the Dallas Cowboys or the Al Davis-era Raiders and has begun a mini-rebuild, notable veterans like outside linebacker James Harrison, offensive linemen Willie Colon, running back Rashard Mendenhall and nose tackle Casey Hampton were all let go this offseason.  Furthermore dynamic wide receiver Mike Wallace was allowed to sign with the Miami Dolphins, and will likely net them a high compensatory draft pick.  Still, the Steelers are not quite finished with the rebuild and several painful moves will probably be made this offseason, notably Ben Roethlisberger may be asked for a contract restructure and the Steelers will have to figure out what they want to do with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, defensive end Brett Kiesel and outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who are all slated to be free agents this offseason.

The Steelers have also been spotty in the draft recently; the Steelers have been very offensive linemen heavy at the beginning of the draft with mixed results; Maurkice Pouncey is one of the better young centers in the draft, but guard David DeCastro has been battling injuries through his short career and hasn’t made the impact expected from a 1st round guard.  But at least DeCastro isn’t tackle Mike Adams, who not only has played poorly and might be switched to tight end but was also stabbed during an attempted robbery this season.  On defense, Jason Worilds only started to get hot this season and will be one of the more interesting players to keep track of since the Steelers also invested a first round draft choice on Jarvis Jones this year.  Defensive Tackle Casey Hayward has also been quiet so far, but defensive linemen in the 3-4 scheme typically don’t have many metrics so his performance is more likely based on the assessment from his coaches.  Perhaps the best draft pick in the last couple years for the Steelers has been running back Le’Veon Bell, who has resuscitated the Steeler’s image as a smash-mouthed running team and provided some balance to the Steelers long downfield passing game (which has been altered somewhat with the hire of Todd Haley). Arguably, the Packers managed to get the better deal with their rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who essentially has been the catalyst for the Packers offense since Rodgers’ injury.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • http://allgbp.com duhawks

    do we really think Rogers will play this year. Upper management want thier $20 mil per year ready for next few years. So I don’t think we will see him play this year any more. What do you all think?

    • Thomas Hobbes

      If they win against the Steelers and the game against the Bears decides the division AND Rodgers is reasonably healthy then yes. In all other situations my feeling is no.

      Even with all the crap scores, poor performances on both sides of the ball, you would still have to call this season successful if they get into the playoffs.

      • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

        No. With the all world QB they have and the complement of weapons and an improved OL and DL (at least until recently)…

        any season with that cast of characters is a failure sans at least an appearance in the NFC CG.

      • Tarynfor12

        The cliff dive this team has performed hardly speaks close of success…even if a playoff spot is captured.

      • Dobber

        When the ultimate goal is to win championships, and you can’t do that if you don’t make the playoffs, any season where you do make the playoffs is more successful than one where you don’t.

        I think we would call this season a failure because, at the point when ARod got hurt, this team was trending up and had a very favorable schedule ahead of them.

  • JH9

    If AR was going to play, he would have been taking all the reps with the first team this week. Whether he plays against the Bears will depend on if we win against the Steelers. If we win this week, I think it will be hard for TT and the DR. to keep him out against the Bears.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      For all we know maybe Rodgers is taking first team reps. Rodgers only has to pretend to be hurt during the media portion of practice which isn’t really that long. Personally I don’t think he’s acting but it’s possible.

  • Archie

    TT is afraid of risk, some call it conservative. I call it stupid. You can’t play scared or with scared money. If the guy is structurally sound I put him out there with the season on the line. Tell him not to get caught with the ball in his hand. Call a heavy run game and a short passing page. Worse case he re-breaks the collarbone and he’s got 8 months to heal. The likelihood of re-breaking the collarbone so badly as to be career harming is so very small. To be great in in the NFL you have got to take chances. Every player is at risk on every play. The guy has had two months to heal and was reportedly close last week. Now is the time unless you believe your team is so bad that even with AROD at the controls post-season success isn’t in the cards. Maybe that’s the case because of the defense. This decision is a test of TT and this game is a test of this GBP team. The season is on the line. AROD wants to play. McFatty the ass-clown wants him to play. Will Thompson the ass-clown let him play?

    • Big T

      I agree Archie… There is a chance at the playoffs and once you get there who knows what could happen. It is down right assanine to SAVE someone for the future. The time is now. He could slip and fall in the shower and break his clavicle. I say lets give it a run. Next year this team could be worse, who knows. The time is now assclowns. If they keep hit out again, something smells fishy in Green Bay…

      • Thomas Hobbes

        The flip side is what happened in Washington. RGIII should not have played at all, tears his ACL, which totally ruins the next season and potentially his career. At this point I don’t know what’s going on with Washington, sure there was mismanagement in the front office and coaching staffs, but even taking that into account it’s pretty obvious that RGIII has regressed significantly and he should have been fully recovered by now

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Rebreaking the collarbone is a lot more serious than just another long recovery, there is a risk of perforating the lung and keep in mind Rodgers is now more likely to break his collarbone again (see Woodson).

      Personally I don’t think Thompson or McCarthy have a say in the matter, this is a medical call and that falls on Mckenzie. But think about this from Thompson perspective: his job is safe, he won a Super Bowl 3 years ago and has fielded playoff teams since. He has no owner to make a rash decision to boot. He’s just invest $120 million in Rodgers OVER the next 7 years. He’s always thought long term and I don’t think that will change.

      • Big T

        Football is a contact sport there is always a chance of a catastrophic injury. Pay him 120 million and only play him when you think he won’t get hurt. Sounds like pussy ball to me. As for mckenzie, he doesn’t know his head from his azz and believe me he is not the final say. He is TT personal puppet on strings. And you can take that to the bank. It is smelly in Green Bay right now.

        • Dobber

          The role of medical professionals in the assessment of players and their readiness to play is part of the CBA.

          McKenzie is that medical professional in this case and it would be unethical for him to perform otherwise. Whether you buy the ethics thing or not, I have hunch the Doc’s desire to protect patients isn’t (and hasn’t been) for sale.

    • Chillly

      Archie I agree with you totally

  • Slim11

    When AR didn’t play against the Lions, I started wondering if he might be active, but not starting, against the Steelers. If he’s active, and the game is well in hand late in the third quarter/early fourth, this could give MM the flexibility to put AR in and start scraping the rust off in preparation for the Bears game.

    Should the Steelers win, I don’t see AR playing against Chicago.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      It’s possible, teams all have unusual game day rosters with injuries and free agent pickups so having 3 active qbs might be in the works.

    • ZeroTolerance

      If the Steelers win, it’s on to men’s college basketball.

  • Elo

    I wonder how much the decision actually rests with Doc McKenzie and what the actual protocol is to determine if he medically eligible to play. There is a lot of conspiracy theories and speculation regarding AR playing or not, but it could simply be a medical checklist that yields a pass/fail decision by the doctor.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I would say a lot. Mckenzie has a lot of seniority and McCarthy and Thompson don’t seem like the type that would try to strong arm Mckenzie or not listen to medical advice. I’d say the first sign that there is an issue between the medical staff and football staff is if Rodgers gets a second opinion now.

      • Dobber

        This is why I think McKenzie is playing it straight: the data (an x-ray/bone scan) can be re-examined by other professionals, but no one has asked for that. I think the scans must be clear…which is a little troubling in and of itself.

    • Stroh

      The protocol? It goes like this…

      McCarthy’s job is to win football games period. He thinks mostly short term and clearly wants Rodgers to play since that makes his job easier.

      Thompson as the GM, has to think much more long term instead of short term. So he is weighing Rodgers helping the Packers this year vs the next 5-8 years. He would like Rodgers to play if cleared but will not allow Rodgers on the field if there’s any chance of long term repercussions from a re-break.

      McKenzie’s job has nothing really to do w/ Thompson or McCarthy’s desires. His job is to decide if Rodgers is healthy enough to play and then give Thompson and McCarthy possible consequences and likelihood of a re-break and its repercussions.

      The protocols are very clearly defined. Really very little question in anyone’s mind INSIDE 1265 Lombardi as to who is making what decisions. They just don’t tell the fans or make it public knowledge, nor should they!

  • J204

    Last two weeks I picked the enemy.. So let’s keep the streak alive.. Pittsburgh 20-14.. I just want to see a dominant D performance like from 2010. Kind of like when they won that NYJ game 9-0 that year.

    Flynn will play and weather will curb any type of aerial attack for both teams.

    • Dave D

      Keep dreaming, D is worst in NFL bar none, including the Cowboys.

  • Big T

    The Packers have a chance to win out and that means at least one more game at Lambeau field. wtf am I the only one that gets that. Lets win this thing. McKenzie can go stick a thermometer up someones azz and tell them to stay home don’t go to the playoff game at Lambeau field…

    • Dave D

      Amen Big T, play Rogers and stop blowing smoke up are asses.

  • chris k

    To me you have to weight the opportunity of this injury actually re-occurring vs. the economic impact this has upon the Green Bay Packers and the surrounding community. Keeping Aaron safe is a top priority, of course, we/Ted Thompson would love to have him for another 6-7 years but a home playoff game is over 2 million dollars just in Tickets and food!! Now think about the community as well. I think there’s intense pressure and he will play against Chicago ONLY if we can pull this one out vs. Pittsburgh.
    THis is an injury that is tough to gauge and safe 100% its ok to come back NOW. They are waiting for the 8 week general minimum.

    • Dave D

      Broke my collarbone in half, worse than Rogers’ more than likely. Have not seen the scan of course. Was back playing baseball in 6 weeks. Had a chest cast. Can’t re break a bone in same place IF it healed. May break in another place but that is another matter altogether. Something is being hidden from us.. hmm

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        Me too Dave, I broke both mine at the same time, snapped them right in two. It took me 6 weeks as well and I was back playing Summer Hockey and water skiing.

  • Melinda B

    I think Aaron is saying the right things but he is Afraid and nervous b/c of all these other messed up old football players.
    No one wants to say Im scared though

  • Kenny G

    I just got a report that Rodgers is in the Bahamas w/ terrance Murphy, Jeremy, nick Collins, Justin Harrell, gary berry, and Jmichelle.. Not verified

  • http://cheesestradamus.com BobBrews

    Activate Aaron and let Matt Flynn start the game. If Matt plays good enough than Rodgers sits and heals. If Matt falters or gets hurt than we risk putting Aaron in! You don’t give up on a championship so that a doctor can maintain his accuracy.

    I had to risk my life on call-outs in storms or blizzards to get the phone lines up and working. I did it because it was my job. I got paid for it and accepted the risk in return. We all accept risk now and then. Sometimes foolishly sometimes because the risk was worth the reward.

    If Rodgers was never going to play again this year and this is a ruse to confuse the opponents, than it is all folly. They will be ready no matter who plays.

    Aaron wants to play and he is a shrewd businessman. He will not risk his career! This is not a RG-III situation.

    It is better to attempt great things and fail than to fail to attempt great things.

    • Dobber

      I think your hunch on ARod playing again this year is partly right. I suspect they were hoping he would play, but didn’t really know and IR-return wasn’t an option.

      This kind of injury is not a career-threatening reinjury thing, but as was pointed out before, if you’re playing to protect yourself, you might do things you normally don’t…and maybe a different, more serious injury results.

    • Stroh

      If Rodgers is healthy enough to be active then he plays. If he’s not healthy enough to play then he’s inactive.

  • GBPDAN

    I’ve changed my stance on this A rod injury. I was saying play him 2 weeks ago, but I realize he’s just not ready medically. As frustrated as I am about Rodgers not playing, I don’t think there’s a conspiracy theory behind it. I believe that it’s a total medical issue, in that there was more damage then we thought and the bone just hasn’t heeled enough yet. It’s the Doctors call and even though I’m against his decision, I know he knows more than me about the long term effects.

    I don’t think TT or MM have any say. They have kept a roster spot open for Aaron and if Rodgers was cleared to play, they would play him in a heartbeat.

    Another frustrating aspect of the whole situation is that the Packers policy is to give minimal information about injuries. So originally when we were all hoping that it was a 4 week recovery, the management knew it was probably going to be longer. Aaron is getting closer to playing, but it was probably a 8-10 week recovery injury and not a 4-6 week we were all hoping on.

  • Slim11

    Now, he’s ruled out for the Steelers. I don’t like the idea of him starting the last game of the season if he’s been on the bench for seven weeks. In 2011, he was held out of the Lions game and there was a first round bye. Then they lost to the Giants. That was a three week layoff for “rest” and Rodgers’ said he’ll never do that again. Now he faces the possibility of playing the Bears on almost two months off. I don’t like the way this situation is progressing.

    All that said, I remember a QB from the late 60s-early 70s…Charlie Johnson of the St. Louis Cardinals (yes…I’m that old!). He broke his collarbone and was out 3-4 weeks. He came back too soon and never was the same. He was a pretty good QB before the injury.

    • Dobber

      ” I don’t like the idea of him starting the last game of the season if he’s been on the bench for seven weeks.”

      Even on limited practice snaps with a layoff, ARod is likely a better option than Flynn. Here’s the natural extension of your point: would you then, since he hasn’t played in ages, continue to sit him if the Packers make the playoffs? Your logic would argue “yes”.

      I just have a hunch that this week’s result will make next week’s game meaningless.

      • Slim11

        I understand why you say that about my line of reasoning.

        I would be a little more comfortable if Rodgers went into the Bears game with more than practice snaps in preparation for the game. His own comments reflect he would also be more comfortable.

    • Since ’61

      I remember Charlie Johnson. The reason he wasn’t very good when he came back was because he wasn’t any good before he got hurt. Of course the whole Cardinal Team wasn’t very good except for their free safety, Wilson I think his name was. Some of us here go back further than the late ’60s and early ’70s. My earliest football memories are ’58 OT title game and GB hiring Lombardi in ’59. Personally, I became a Packer fan in ’61 after they defeated NYG 37-0 in the ’61 title game. Thanks Since ’61

      • Slim11

        You’re fight about Wilson. Larry Wilson was a safety who was fearless. I remember reading about Wilson playing a game with both hands broken and in casts.

        Regarding Johnson, you’re right again. He was on bad teams. IIRC, he went on to play for the Oilers and was never the same. I believe he was an all-pro selection a couple of times.

      • Shavager

        Yeah, you’re right, Charley Johnson was a good QB but not a stellar performer who could win titles. Larry Wilson was a HOF player who headed the defense for Cardinals. Chuck Cecil is likely the Packers only DB that would fit in Wilson’s mold.

  • Since ’61

    Whatever the reason is we have to deal with Rodgers missing another game. Everyone is concerned about winning while Rodgers is in his prime and we may be letting one of those chances slip away this year. We can win this division this year and go who knows how far in the playoffs with Rodgers. Who knows what happens next year or beyond even with a healthy Rodgers. If we follow the same logic being used to hold out AR, why are we playing Lacy. His ankle is not 100% but we play him. He is not important for next season? WTF?! The logic is inconsistent, that is what disturbs me. What happened to ” If Aaron says he’s ready I give him
    ball”. Aaron and MM should clearly state that he’s ready to go and let’s see how the doctor responds. This process should be more transparent. If you listen closely, you can hear Lombardi from beyond shouting, ” What the hell is going on down there?! Thanks, Since ’61

  • Big T

    This just in… TT and MM are going to freeze Arod and save him until 2025. They feel as though their team is good enough to plug in any qb and win baby…

    • Dobber

      I really think you’re hitting the nail on the head: they think they can scrape together at least one more win with Flynn, and then we’ll see ARod if the Bears game means anything. I wonder if it’s because they don’t think the OL can protect an ARod who is not quite fully healed…

  • Big T

    Can you say scandal. Green Bay has its very own cover up going on. If TT and MM screw up Rodgers career on this, shame on them. I hope they let him out of his contract so he can play to his potential and shatter every record on the books. TT and MM are assclowns and do not deserve a qb like Rodgers. McKenzie is just the scapegoat, he’s not even a real Dr. he just plays one on tv… New signs you will see at Lambeau, “Let Rodgers Go” “Let Rodgers Go” “Let Rodgers Go”… Anyone that gets close to MM or TT please kick them in the ding ding for me…

  • Dobber

    Here’s the best answer I’ve seen.

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/236769251.html

    It apparently IS as much the staff as the doctors (if I’m reading this correctly).

    Disappointing.

  • Wagszilla

    Nick Collins =(

  • http://jersyal.com tim

    With Rodgers out, the packers need to pull some rabbits out of the hat. Last few weeks they’ve started the game like frozen molasses & let the other team gain all the momentum.They need a faster start & less vanilla play calling. Flynn needs every edge he can get, & letting the other team gain all the momentum, having the old “let’s not dare make any mistakes” attitude & taking the crowd out of the game won’t help. They’ve been doing it on offense and defense for weeks and it’s a formula to lose. Getting too far behind the Steelers might mean season over.

  • Since ’61

    One of the most frustrating aspects of this is why the reporters do not ask MM for the reason behind the organizational decision. I realize that MM is expected to go out and take the heat during his press conferences, but when he says that the organization feels that Rodgers is not ready to play why doesn’t someone ask him why isn’t he ready to play? Is it the collarbone, is he being protected for next year, etc… There must be a reason behind the organization’s decision. I don’t MM’s answers would fly with the NY media. They are much more aggressive here. Thanks, Since ’61

  • Big T

    So what has to happen in order for the “organization” to let Aaron play. Does he need to jump down, turn around, and pick a bale of cotton? There is a reason that the “organization” does not want to go to the playoffs this year. The truth will come out. Everything is hunky dory right now with the fluke Dallas victory. What happens when the Steelers put an ass whoopin on us? Then what? fishy

  • larry valdes

    At least I will make Rodgers active and playing if we need. Keep the steelers guessing.

  • Archie

    Packers have had 9 Head Coaches and 6 have been ass-clowns.

    Lambeau, Lombardi and Homgren were the only good head coaches we ever had.

    Ass-clowns include: Bengston, Devine, Starr, Gregg, Infante, Sherman and McFatty. Include the guy before Lombardi whose name escapes me.

    6 ass-clowns and 3 keepers. That means for every keeper we have to endure two ass-clowns. That is a pretty sh*tty record. I blame the fans. They alway support the guy management puts in places way beyond the time that is reasonable. Why is that I wonder? I understand wanting to see them succeed but when somebody has been in place 9 years and he has no back-up QB “because I didn’t want to jinx Aaron even though I don’t believe in jinxs”. That is an ass-clown statement. No back-up C. Why? DE and DT playing OLB. Why? S that are not NFL calibre and yet in the year of the safety draft, he doesn’t take any. Instead, he trades his R3 pick down when he could have a nice one. These are the moves of an ass-clown. Giving Finley $14MM for 2 years, trying to give Raji $8M/yr, giving Burnett $26MM, Williams $36MM, Hawk 36MM. These are the moves of an ass-clown. And, his final act of ass-clownness for this season, he benches AROD even though AROD and MM say he’s ready to go. Can’t any player suffer an injury on any play. Is not risk the price for reward? But, alas, Packer fans will continue to support TT because he’s their guy. Packer’s offense suffered mightily when Philbin’s son died and then he left. He’s doing a great job in Miami. Three GMs that left GB are doing a great job too. It’s the ass=clowns left behind that are killing us. Fans need to demand accountability or TT will be here 15 years with 1 SB that was lightning in a bottle. It would be a shame to waste the rest of AROD’s career but that look’s like the way we are going.

    • Stroh

      Packers have Millions of fans… Your the biggest Ass CLown among them all!!

  • Maraneso

    “[B]ut perhaps the most important game in the last decade for the Packers was their win in Super Bowl XLV in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

    Perhaps? LOL. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was the most important win since 1996. Great breakdown. Go Pack Go!

  • rick s.

    gentlemen, here’s how it goes. we win by a field goal late vs. steelers. arod starts against the bears and tears their heart out in front of their fans.payback for injuring our guy at lambeau.
    pretty cool!!

    • JimR_in_DC

      That would be a wonderful Christmas present!