NFL Football

Packers try to recover from loss of Rodgers

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It was the worst of times.

Period. End of sentence.

That's how the Green Bay Packers felt after learning Monday that quarterback Aaron Rodgers would need surgery for the broken right collarbone he suffered in a 23-10 loss to Minnesota Sunday.

When a displaced collarbone requires surgery, the average recovery time is approximately three months. If Rodgers needs that much time, his 2017 season is likely over.

"Aaron Rodgers suffered a significant injury in the game," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "He'll require surgery. He'll be out a minimum, a significant amount of time potentially the season could be over. So, he'll have surgery here in the near future and after we see how that goes, we'll focus on getting Aaron healthy. That's all that really matters right now."

After Rodgers left, backup Brett Hundley had a forgettable day, throwing three interceptions and finishing with a dismal passer rating of 39.6. In 140 career starts, Rodgers has had a lower passer rating than that just twice.

The Packers seemed shaken after losing their franchise quarterback, and played one of their more lifeless games in years.

"Aaron's the best player on this team, hands down," Packers right guard Jahri Evans said. "It's going to be tough, but we're all football players here. We were brought in to do a job. It starts with practice.

"You've got to go out there, you've got to work, you've got to dial in and you've got to make sure individually that you're doing the best that you can do to go out there and execute the game plan. It's going to be rough. We've got a lot of adversity ahead of us, but we're pros. This is professional football. You have to step up big time."

According to the oddsmakers at BookMaker.eu, the Packers had the third-best odds to win Super Bowl LII before Sunday at +700 (7/1). After losing Rodgers, those odds fell to +2500 (25/1).

"It's devastating, no question about it," wideout Randall Cobb said. "First and foremost, it's one of my closest friends, so to see him go down with that, it's tough. But we've still got to play football. We've got a long season ahead of us and we've got to figure out what we're going to do."

The Packers couldn't figure much out against Minnesota's terrific defense.

With Hundley at the helm, the playbook shrunk. McCarthy became much more conservative. And Green Bay finished with its fewest number of points in the last 28 games.

"I mean it's a tricky situation, especially when a starting quarterback goes down and you're just in there," Hundley said. "But I've been preparing for this moment for a long time now. So obviously we didn't get the job done today but we'll be better. We'll be better."

Rodgers broke his left collarbone in 2013 when he was sacked by Chicago's Shea McClellin on the Packers' opening series of the game. Rodgers missed that game, as well as the next seven.

In those eight games, Green Bay went 2-5-1 and never could figure things out on offense. The Packers averaged 21.5 points per game without Rodgers that year and 30.6 points per game with him.

Seneca Wallace got the first chance to replace Rodgers in 2013, posted a 64.4 passer rating, and suffered a season-ending groin injury the following week. Scott Tolzien came next, threw five interceptions and one touchdown in three games, and finished with a 66.8 passer rating.

Finally, the Packers turned to Matt Flynn, their backup from 2008-11. Flynn posted an 86.1 passer rating and kept Green Bay in playoff contention by going 2-2.

Rodgers returned for a Week 17 game in Chicago, and threw a late touchdown pass to Cobb to give Green Bay a 33-28 win and the NFC North title. Chances are, though, Rodgers won't be back this time around.

"Obviously, it's disappointing when you lose anyone for the season and obviously when it's your quarterback and he plays at that level," Packers wideout Jordy Nelson said. "It's something that we'll have to make an adjustment with.

"Hopefully, he can come back. I know we dealt with it a few years ago -- I forget what week that was and where that was at - but it also could be a completely different injury. That's something we'll wait and find out and we'll see what happens. Obviously, we've got a lot of guys banged up and we've got to figure it out."

Hundley will benefit from working with the No. 1 offense for the foreseeable future. But the dropoff from Rodgers to Hundley might be the most precipitous in football from a No. 1 quarterback to a No. 2.

Rodgers entered Sunday's game with 13 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 104.1 passer rating despite playing with a depleted offensive line the first five weeks. His heroics against Cincinnati and Dallas had Green Bay in good shape to challenge for the No. 1 seed in the wide-open NFC.

Hundley, meanwhile, had completed 3-of-11 career passes prior to Sunday. And his performance against the Vikings didn't do a lot to suggest big things await.

"I've got to do a better job. I've got to get Brett into a flow," McCarthy said. "More importantly, we've got to get our offense into a flow. We didn't run the ball very well yesterday. Our pass protection was a negative. We didn't handle basic blitzes that they came with.

"We need to get that cleaned up, and then the passing game will come. We've got to play cleaner football. I've got three years invested in Brett Hundley. I have great confidence in Brett Hundley."

Packers wideout Davante Adams, who caught the first touchdown pass of Hundley's career, agreed that the Packers can win with Hundley.

"We've been put through a lot of tests in the past," Adams said. "Just bounce back, figure it out, rally. We've got a lot of faith in Brett. He did a good job today. He got thrown in the fire a little bit, but he did his thing. We've got to keep him up and just move forward."

Those sentiments are all well and good. But without Rodgers, the Packers fully understood their once promising season was suddenly hanging by a thread.

"We're going to fight, the goal doesn't change, that's all I'll say," Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark said. "The goal doesn't change, we're going to win some games."

How many exactly is the question?

--Left tackle David Bakhtiari missed Weeks 2-5 with a hamstring injury. Bakhtiari made his return Sunday, but only lasted until the third quarter when he aggravated the injury.

"I went out there for that series in the third quarter, it just started doing things that we didn't like," Bakhtiari said of his hamstring. "Came back off and talked to (team doctors) and we just thought it would be smart to sit."

--LG Lane Taylor was rolled up on and left the game with knee and ankle injuries.

"I don't think (it's) anything too serious," Taylor said. "But we'll check it out and see how it turns out."

NOTES: RT Bryan Bulaga missed three of the first five games of 2017 with an ankle injury. He suffered a concussion during Sunday's game and will now be in the concussion protocol this week. ... CB Kevin King, a rookie second-round draft choice who's become the Packers' top corner, didn't play due to a concussion. ... S Morgan Burnett (hamstring) didn't play against Minnesota. ... CB Davon House (quadriceps) missed his third game of the season. ... CB Quinten Rollins was placed on the injured reserve list Monday with an ankle injury.

REPORT CARD VS. VIKINGS

--PASSING OFFENSE: D-minus - Granted, losing Aaron Rodgers was a franchise shattering blow. But the Packers managed just 175 passing yards and Hundley threw three costly interceptions.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: D - Aaron Jones wasn't able to build on his terrific performance in Week 5, finishing with 41 yards on 13 carries. Former wideout Ty Montgomery (10-28) does far too much dancing and continues to look miscast as a running back.

--PASS DEFENSE: C-plus - Considering Green Bay was missing 75 percent of its starting secondary and was down to two healthy cornerbacks by the end of the game, this was a solid effort. Minnesota's Case Keenum had a 78.7 passer rating and was intercepted once. But Keenum did throw for 239 yards, including 97 to Adam Thielen.

--RUSH DEFENSE: C - Minnesota's Jerick McKinnon didn't run wild. But he did average 4.3 yards on his 16 carries and found the end zone.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: C - Packers punter Justin Vogel knocked four of his six punts inside the 20 and had a net of 44.7 yards. Trevor Davis averaged 27.5 yards on two kickoff returns.

--COACHING: F - Packers head coach Mike McCarthy looked as shell-shocked as his team after losing Rodgers. McCarthy preaches "next man up," but he simply wasn't ready when Rodgers went down.

Updated October 16, 2017

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