10 months ago
Bleacher Report spent some time with the Green Bay Packers to see how the team was faring without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who recently underwent surgery to fix a broken clavicle. They found that team morale is mixed, to say the least, and observers are referring to their Rodgers-less roster as “the zombie Packers.”
Specifically, the accusation is that Rodgers was holding the team together, and with him gone, their lackluster offense and easily permeable defense are exposed. Some even suggest that the team has given up on this season, that Rodgers was not only the team’s primary talent but their heart as well.
The team is more than aware of the sports media’s general attitude that Rodgers was keeping them afloat, and some of them are trying to step up in his absence. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels, frustrated by what he saw as other teams cheap-shotting Packers players and taking them off the field, encouraged teammates to hit back if they felt other players were taking liberties. He would get the Packers a 15-yard penalty for headbutting a Detroit Lions player during a game that Green Bay ultimately lost.
Meanwhile, rookie running back Aaron Jones dreams of recharging the Packers’ humdrum passing game. The son of Iraq war veterans, Jones understands that he’s taking on a steep uphill battle, but he also considers himself the equal of Kareem Hunt and Christian McCaffrey. “People are doubting us,” he told Bleacher Report. “We just have to put our head down and work, have that chip on our shoulder and turn them into believers.”
Nose tackle Kenny Clark is also taking on a leadership role, playing not just to revitalize the Packers but for his father, who is currently in prison for murder (Clark Sr. maintains his innocence, as does Clark Jr.).
The truth is, most of the current Packers roster has faced adversity off the field. That they are tough, resilient athletes are not in question. What is in question is their ability to pull themselves together and motivate each other now that their franchise player is gone.