With a broken collarbone, Aaron Rodgers is likely to be out for around 3 or 4 weeks before he can start again for the Green Bay Packers, who have to hope that the combination of a much improved running game thanks to Eddie Lacy and Seneca Wallace stepping up to the plate will be enough to keep them in a position to make the playoffs.
Wallace hasn’t played in a game since 2011 before he was forced to come in and replace the injured Rodgers against the Bears. He completed only 11-of-19, getting intercepted once and sacked four times. The Packers couldn’t really change their gameplan in the middle of the game except to call more running plays. They did gain 199 yards on the ground, but without any sort of deep passing threat, they didn’t have enough to beat the Bears.
The Packers don’t really have too many talented receivers to help Wallace adjust to life as a starter – Jordy Nelson is healthy, but that’s about it. James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finely are out, and Jones is the only one who might be coming back to play in their next game. Wallace struggled finding Nelson in comparison to Rodgers, completing only 3 passes to him for 40 yards.
The running game is going to have to take the load. Since week 5, no running back in the NFL has gained more yards on the ground than Eddie Lacy, who also ran for 150 yards on 22 carries against the Bears. The blocking has been superb, and there are more options than just Lacy – Jonathan Franklin and James Starks are both very capable running backs, but it won’t be surprising to see teams start putting eight men in the box and challenge Wallace to beat them in the air.
Maybe 20-30 years ago, completely shifting to a running offense would have worked, but the NFL is very different these days, and it’s hard to see the Packers sticking to the run if they fall early on behind. That hardly happened with Rodgers at quarterback, but Wallace makes it a question of whether or not to simply run the ball even when time’s working against you.
In order to win in that kind of game, the Packers need a strong defense, which they don’t have. It might be better than in the past, ranked 11th in the NFL in total defense, but they’re still one of the easiest teams to pass against (allowing a passer rating of 95.3) and they’re just above average when it comes to stopping the run (allowing 4 yards per carry). No matter how you look at it, things don’t look too good regarding their chances of winning while Rodgers is out, although playing Minnesota, New York Giants and Philadelphia certainly improves their chances.