Matt LaFleur stepped to the podium on Monday, November 28, one day after Rodgers sustained the injury in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Packers head coach was evasive from the jump.
“I know he’s feeling better today. I think we’ll know more in the next couple days,” LaFleur said. “I haven’t even had a chance yet to talk to him.”
Team doctors conducted X-rays on the spot in Philadelphia Sunday night, which Rodgers told media members after the game were inconclusive.
“It was hard to tell on the X-rays, so we’re gonna do some tomorrow,” the quarterback said.
Reporters pressed LaFleur Monday as to whether he had been given the results of the more recent scans of Rodgers’ injured torso.
“Yes, but there’s more to be done,” LaFleur answered. “So, like I said, sometimes there’s stuff that doesn’t show up on all the scans. All I can tell you is that he’s feeling a little bit better.”
LaFleur’s Lack of Transparency on Rodgers’ Injury My be Bad News For Packers
“Feeling better,” as LaFleur put it, is a relative term when applied to a situation like the one Rodgers now faces. The QB said it was intense pain that kept him sidelined Sunday night, despite the first set of inconclusive scans.
“[I was] just having a hard time breathing and rotating my upper body, [and] I was worried about a punctured lung as well, so I wanted to get that checked out,” Rodgers said.
Considering his description of the injury and its affects, Rodgers could both be feeling better a day later and still suffering from multiple rib fractures. And the vague quality of LaFleur’s comments Monday don’t inspire much confidence considering the greater context.
NFL teams are notorious for being tight-lipped with injury information and the Packers are under no obligation to designate Rodgers an official status until Wednesday. But being coy about how seriously a player is hurt is more common as a tactical strategy, which implies the team in question is trying to gain, or maintain, a competitive advantage because it has something legitimate to play for. At this point, it is hard to describe Green Bay as such a team.
In order to make the playoffs, the Packers most likely need to win their final five games and have a few results in other contests bounce their way. Next up for Green Bay are the Chicago Bears, a three-win team out of playoff contention and unlikely to run out quarterback Justin Fields — by far their best player on either side of the football.
The Packers may simply be trying to exercise caution, not wanting to commit Rodgers to playing only to have to walk it back in a few days. But if he’s healthy, what’s the point in hiding that? It doesn’t provide Green Bay with a competitive edge over Chicago, which makes LaFleur’s evasion of specific answers as to Rodgers’ health all the more disconcerting.
Packers Fans Should Prepare For Possible Jordan Love Start
Of course, the silver lining is that the Packers will get a chance to stretch Jordan Love’s legs in regular season action should Rodgers ultimately prove unable to go.
Love completed 6-of-9 passes for 113 yards and a score Sunday night in relief of Rodgers. He appeared poised, made quality decisions and kept Green Bay in the game to the end against the NFL’s only 10-win team.
Now in his third season, Love has never truly had a chance to be anything but a backup, playing almost exclusively in garbage time. The team must decide by next spring whether to pick up the QB’s fifth-year option or allow him to hit restricted free agency following the 2023 campaign.
The Packers can learn a good deal about Love’s true abilities and progress down the stretch, while also keeping Rodgers healthy for next year and beyond, either as a long-term starter or a piece to try and move for draft capital this offseason — largely depending on how Love performs.
He appears quality enough to keep the Packers competitive, while also guaranteeing enough struggle that Green Bay should find themselves at the top end of the draft come April. As such, even if it turns out Rodgers is healthy enough to play next Sunday against the Bears, the question that must be asked is simply: What’s the upside? The answer is considerably harder to figure.