The Green Bay Packers are relying on Aaron Rodgers to lead them deep into the playoffs, and he has done nothing but impress so far. In a must-win scenario for the Vikings in Week 16, Minnesota couldn’t keep up with him. As we get ready for what could be one of his final games before retirement (if not this year then in 2020), let’s take a look at why Aaron is still able to dominate and how he will continue doing it even after leaving football behind.
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Despite the fact that many key players, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, were injured throughout the regular season, the Green Bay Packers finished 13-4.
Rodgers, unlike some of his colleagues, such as Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith, never had to miss a game due to an injured pinky toe. For most of the season, though, it was a literal sore area for him.
Rodgers claims that the pinky toe is no longer an issue, which is huge news for the Packers as they prepare to compete for a Super Bowl ring.
Aaron Rodgers claims his damaged toe is almost fully recovered.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field | Nic Antaya/Getty Images
Because they had already clinched the NFC’s top seed, the Packers were able to enjoy a bye during Super Wild Card Weekend. Green Bay will benefit greatly from the additional week of recuperation in terms of maybe regaining a couple key players in time for the playoffs. This is a list that includes players like Alexander and Za’Darius Smith, but it also gave injured players a chance to relax.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari is at the top of that list, having missed all but half of this season due to an ACL rupture sustained at the conclusion of last season. Rodgers, who injured his pinky toe in Week 9 while sitting out Green Bay’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs due to being in COVID-19 procedure, is the other star among the walking wounded.
The toe injury bothered him for the remainder of the season, yet his performance never deteriorated as a result of it. He was noticed limping on occasion, particularly late in games. The toe was also trodden on a couple of times, which triggered the injury.
Rodgers seemed to be recovering from his injuries towards the conclusion of the season. But how close is he to being 100 percent?
The star quarterback told the reporters following a session earlier in the bye week that he’s almost back to full health and expects to be ready by the time the Packers take their first playoff plays.
Rodgers stated through Bill Huber, “I’m feeling good, practiced today, close to 100 percent, but believe I’ll be 100 percent by next week.”
Rodgers is a significant danger to the rest of the NFC playoff field if he is at 100 percent.
Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers waits for the snap from Josh Myers #71 of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field | Nic Antaya/Getty Images
It’s worth noting that, despite his toe injury, Rodgers’ performance did not suffer. Sure, there were a few times when he couldn’t scramble as well as he typically does. Overall, he was able to maintain MVP-level performance, which just goes to show how excellent he is.
Despite being hampered by a major toe injury, Rodgers was playing at an MVP level. How good will he be in the playoffs now that he thinks he’s back to 100 percent and has had some much-needed rest?
Of all, no one is 100% healthy at this time in the season, which is why the playoffs are so difficult. It might be more of a battle of attrition than anything else, which is why the most skilled team seldom makes it to the Super Bowl. The squad that makes it all the way is generally the healthiest and most motivated. The truth of a one-and-done playoff system is that this is the case.
This is excellent news for the Packers.
Rodgers is regaining his health. He hasn’t slowed down either. The one game he missed was against the Chiefs, but he went on a tear the rest of the way. Rodgers completed 71.43 percent of his throws for 2,221 yards and 20 touchdowns with only one interception in the eight games he played with the toe injury, including the half of football he played in the season finale against the Detroit Lions.
Rodgers is at the pinnacle of his powers even while hurt, and you have to believe he’ll approach the playoffs with a chip on his shoulder.
Everyone knows how excellent he is, and he’s earned his place beside Tom Brady in the argument for finest quarterback of all time. With that said, Brady has something Rodgers lacks: an abundance of hardware.
Rodgers has one Super Bowl ring, and since then, he and the Packers have been bridesmaids, never the bride. Since that Super Bowl season, he’s gone 0-4 in NFC Championship games, including two consecutive defeats in the NFC championship game under Matt LaFleur.
Rodgers seemed to feel that everything is falling into place for his postseason run. Not only does he have an opportunistic defense and a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal, but he also has to be pleased with the team’s current situation.
The Packers are regaining their health at the perfect moment.
Green Bay Packers’ Za’Darius Smith #55 celebrates forcing a turnover against the San Francisco 49ers | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Every season, one or two teams are destroyed by injuries, and the Packers seemed to be that squad this season.
To be honest, it’s because of this that their 13-4 record this season is so astounding. Four of the seven Pro Bowlers from the 2020 season are sidelined for the whole season or the most of it. Although Alexander and Za’Darius Smith have previously been highlighted, Elgton Jenkins has been out for the most of the season, and Bakhtiari has just recently returned to the roster.
The benefit of dealing with so many severe injuries is that as the Packers approach closer to the playoffs, it’s almost as if they’re signing guys as free agents.
Bakhtiari’s return to left tackle improves an offensive line that was already shabby. In that vein, rookie center Josh Meyers seems to be getting back into the flow of things, implying that the Packers will be adding two starters to an attack that has already racked up 13 victories.
For the playoffs, Green Bay’s defense should benefit from the signing of Za’Darius Smith. Before sustaining a back injury, Smith was a two-time Pro Bowler and Green Bay’s top pass rusher. Even if he is able to return and play, he is unlikely to be installed as the starter for full-time repetitions. Consider how effective Green Bay’s pass rush would be with Za’Darius Smith backing up Preston Smith (nine sacks this season) and Rashan Gary (9.5 sacks). Even veteran pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus might make a playoff return, elevating Green Bay’s pass rush to top status.
If Alexander were to return to the starting with Rasul Douglas (five interceptions) and brilliant youngster Eric Stokes, Green Bay’s secondary would be borderline invincible.
The Packers are regaining key guys at a crucial moment. Meanwhile, their uncontested leader and team’s pulse, Aaron Rodgers, is in command of the situation.
The stars are aligned in Green Bay’s favor. There’s no way to look at it any other way.
ESPN and Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
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