The Green Bay Packers are no longer the clear-cut favorite in the NFC North.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in the team’s loss against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6, changing the landscape for the rest of the division for the remainder of 2017. As it stands, three of the NFC North’s four teams are working with quarterbacks who started the year as second-stringers. That includes Bears rookie Mitch Trubisky.
Let’s dive in to the new-look NFC North with regards to each team’s quarterbacks:
- Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t go as far as to say Rodgers’ collarbone injury would keep him out for the season, but he came awfully close. While Ian Rapoport tweets Rodgers will have surgery to repair the injury, his teammates will move on with Brett Hundley as QB1 for the time being. Hundley was a fifth-round pick (147th overall) in 2015 and didn’t make his debut until the 2016 season. In relief of Rodgers on Sunday, Hundley completed 54.6 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (1) while also taking four sacks.
- Don’t expect the Packers to jump into the trade or free agent market to fill the void Rodgers leaves behind. An adamant McCarthy insisted Hundley would be the starter and Joe Callahan would serve as his backup. McCarthy “bristled” at the idea of the team signing Colin Kaepernick, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
- There might have bigger fish to fry for the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, with Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reporting Kaepernick has filed a grievance under the Collective Bargaining Agreement for collusion against the owners. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio believes Kaepernick is trying to bring down the CBA with this move, which would force owners to immediately negotiate with the NFLPA. Florio notes that if Kaepernick is successful in ending the CBA, the players would be in a position of higher leverage in negotiations – and that’s a situation the NFL isn’t used to being in.
- While one prominent starting quarterback exits stage left, another looks to be inching his way back into the lineup. Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings has been cleared to practice, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. It’s a major step in the right direction for Bridgewater, who led the Vikings to the NFC North title in 2015 and had his eyes on a repeat performance in 2016 before suffering an awful knee injury that caused him to miss the entire 2016 season and start 2017 on the physically unable to perform list. Bridgewater is expected to return to practice on Wednesday, which will start the clock on a three-week period in which Minnesota must decide whether to keep him on the active roster or place him on season-ending injured reserve. For what it’s worth, Ian Rapoport hears Bridgewater will be activated within the next two weeks and the Vikings expect him to play this year.
- Meanwhile, things don’t look great for Sam Bradford:
On the career-ending thing, Glazer said Bradford is going to have to make a decision at some point. A lot of damage + wear & tear to knee.
— Phil Mackey (@PhilMackey) October 15, 2017
- Matthew Stafford is the only NFC North quarterback who opened the season as a starter who will go into the team’s next game in that same role. Luckily for Stafford, he’ll get a bye week to rest and recover after taking a beating at the hands of the New Orleans Saints defense. Stafford, who spent the days leading up to the loss on the injury report with an ankle injury, took five sacks and took eight quarterback hits in a 52-38 loss in which he also threw three interceptions. After being sacked a total of six times in the first three games of the season, Stafford has been brought down 17 times in the last three games. According to Andrew Siciliano, that puts him on pace to be sacked 61 times – would make him the first quarterback to be sacked 60+ times since Jon Kitna in 2006. That’s not the kind of company any quarterback wants to keep.