Aaron Rodgers’ calf muscle has been the most scrutinized piece of NFL anatomy the last few weeks.
We’ve heard that Rodgers re-injured a different portion of his calf in the regular season finale two weeks ago and we’ve also learned that he has a minor tear there.
Even though Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff will be about 34 degrees warmer than the fabled game in 1967 that everyone has been talking about this week, Rodgers will be limited.
Then there’s Tony Romo. The Dallas quarterback has enjoyed his most efficient season ever, and that’s largely due in part to a workhorse running back that was an MVP candidate early on.
The 34-year-old Romo has had his share of bumps and bruises this year as well, including two fractures in his back. I doubt he’s feeling 100 percent, but he’s healthier than the 31-year-old Rodgers.
Which is why this game is going to come down to Rodgers’ ability to succeed strictly as a pocket passer, after owning the league with his accuracy on the move, versus Romo’s decision making.
First of all, the offensive lines basically cancel each other out. Rodgers and Romo have each been hit one time while throwing this season. Rodgers has been sacked 28 times and Romo has been sacked 30 times. Even though the Cowboys have three of their starting five offensive line in the Pro Bowl, Green Bay’s offensive line isn’t far behind.
Rodgers proved he was fine by sticking in the pocket to beat the Lions 30-20 to wrap up the No. 2 seed. Favoring his left calf, he hobbled like a peg-legged pirate to the line of scrimmage and had to throw the ball with more arm than he’s been accustomed to. Rodgers was 11-for-14 while mostly operating out of the shotgun in the second half.
Rodgers is one of the sharpest minds in the game. He often shocks his offensive line by recalling plays, in detail, from several years ago. He is adept at reading a defense and will never take an unnecessary risk.
Romo on the other hand, has been more ‘Favrian’ during his career. He has been a highlight-reel’s delight for turning what looked dreadful into a dream. But there is also a flip-side to Romo. Unlike, Rodgers’ disdain for the interception, Romo has been known to gamble.
Last year, Romo threw for 358 yards at home against Green Bay. But he also threw a pair of picks — both in the fourth quarter — as the Packers rallied with Matt Flynn to win 37-36.
Romo is also at the point in his career where he’s more apt to take more chances. His contract doesn’t run out until 2020, but his health is going to run out before the contract does. This is the best team he’s had since 2009 when Marion Barber and Felix Jones were running through and around opponents. So if anyone senses urgency, it will be Romo seeing the sand trickling out of the hourglass as he tries to do too much.
“Hopefully we’ll look back and say this was our best team to date,” Rodgers said in December. He’s got a great argument with two starting receivers that have 65 percent of the Packers’ receiving touchdowns, a running back that is the hardest to tackle in the league and a secondary that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver in its last three games.
Even without the injury, Rodgers is one of the most cerebral players in the league right next to Peyton Manning. He will be leaning on other attributes now, but those are still better than a healthy Romo.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn