The Sports Xchange
GREEN BAY — These are unique times in Green Bay.
For the first time since 2008, and only the third time in Mike McCarthy’s 12 seasons as head coach, the Packers have been eliminated from the postseason heading into Week 16.
Now, instead of discussing playoff seedings and divisional championships, the Packers have been thrust into the role of spoilers.
“It’s very disappointing,” Packers wideout Randall Cobb said. “You never want to be in this situation, but we are.
“I’ll continue to come back here to work every day, practice as hard as I can, and prepare myself for a game. But yeah, it’s definitely not normal. It’s nothing I’ve been through.”
When Atlanta defeated Tampa Bay on Monday night, it eliminated Green Bay (7-7) from the postseason. That also snapped the Packers’ run of eight straight trips to the playoffs, the third-longest streak in NFL history.
“It sucks,” Packers cornerback Davon House said. “Every year, regardless of the team you’re on, you’re hoping for the Super Bowl. It sucks that we didn’t even get to make it to the dance. The team’s going to continue to grow from this, continue to get better from this.”
Green Bay responded by placing quarterback Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve Tuesday.
Rodgers missed eight weeks with a broken right collarbone, then returned against Carolina last week, although the injury wasn’t 100 percent healed.
With Green Bay out of playoff contention, there was no reason to put Rodgers at further risk. So the Packers shelved him to ensure he’ll return at full strength in 2018.
“He took a number of hits (against Carolina),” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers. “With all the factors involved, we felt this was clearly in Aaron Rodgers’ best interest. He’s not happy about it.
“This is not the way — I don’t think — any player wants to see their season come to a conclusion, being on IR. We all understand and appreciate and respect his competitive spirit, but we felt as an organization this was in his best interest.”
It remains to be seen exactly how competitive the Packers will be over the final two games.
Green Bay has little to nothing at stake, while its next two foes have plenty to play for.
Minnesota (11-3), the Packers’ opponent Saturday, still has a chance at home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Detroit (8-6), Green Bay’s Week 17 foe, is fighting for its playoff life.
With two losses, the Packers could bolster their position in April’s draft and try restocking a roster that lacks star power. But Green Bay’s current players insist that their goal is to finish this disappointing season strong.
“You know we had ups and downs,” Packers linebacker Nick Perry said. “We didn’t play as good as we should have, and what we’re capable of. There’s a lot of guys that (were) banged up this year, things like that takes a toll on you, just playing certain teams scheme-wise has to change, predicated off of that stuff.
“We didn’t get the job done this year. I’m pretty sad about it. The only thing we can do now is just look forward and just move in the right direction.”
Left guard Lane Taylor agreed.
“We’re just thinking about going out there trying to win, like we always do,” Taylor said. “We all compete, we all want to win. We don’t want to lose, obviously. If that happens along the way, it happens along the way. But ... it’s same as usual for us.”
Only it’s not. In fact, it’s unlike anything in Green Bay since 2008.