There seems to be a sea of sentiment floating amongst those who follow the Packers that Andrew Quarless was a disappointment in his rookie season. To those who say that I ask, what exactly were your expectations?
We are talking about a kid that was only 21 years old when the season started. He was a fifth round draft pick on a team that already had four tight ends. It would have been perfectly reasonable to expect Quarless to land on the practice squad.
Instead, the Packers cut the all-purpose Spencer Havner, a key special teams contributor, to keep Quarless on the roster. As the low man on the tight end totem pole, Quarless was slated to see mostly special teams action, much like Jermichael Finley did during his rookie season.
So how can you call a season where Quarless had more snaps than any other Packers tight end a disappointment? No doubt, he had some drops in key moments, especially in the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. But what does it say that the Packers’ coaches and Aaron Rodgers were comfortable going to Quarless in big spots in those games?
“… the addition of two tight ends could be because of Quarless’ slow development. He had almost no impact as a rookie and worse, made repeated mental mistakes.”
First let’s take the “repeated mental mistakes.” I need some clarification on that. Is that something Rob has noticed? Something he was told by a coach? Without knowledge of Quarless’ assignments nor the time to sit and grade Quarless, I can’t really agree or disagree with that assertion. So let’s move to the other part of Rob’s statement, “He had almost no impact as a rookie.” Now this I can talk about.
According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Quarless took 518 snaps for the Packers last season. Tom Crabtree took 395 and Donald Lee 300.
Jermichael Finley saw only 97 snaps in 2008, when he was a 21 year old rookie on a 6-10 Packers team. Finley didn’t have a pass thrown to him until game nine of that season and finished with 6 catches and a 12.3 ypc average. Quarless finished 2010 with 21 catches (over 4 more games) and a 11.3 ypc average.
Was anyone calling Jermichael Finley a huge disappointment as a rookie? No, they weren’t. So why is Quarless?
My only real issue with Quarless was the drops, which really surprised me based on what I had seen of Quarless in college. Being a Penn State fan, I have seen Quarless play in person or on TV at least 25 times. I can tell you this, he has very good hands and catches most balls using his hands, rather than hands & body. Quarless is especially adept at catching balls thrown behind him, which he had to do a lot in college.
But one thing he never had to do in college was catch a quick, hard slant over the middle. That play was not in the Nittany lion’s playbook. Nor did Penn State have any rifle-armed quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers throwing missiles at him from short distance. So I’m willing to give Quarless a “pass” on those drops for his rookie year. He does have good hands. He will only improve with more experience.
Addendum: Looking at some other stats from PFF, Quarless was thrown to 32 times. With 21 catches, that gives him a 65.6% catch rate. Doesn’t sound very good, but there were some big name tight ends in the league with similar numbers: Vernon Davis – 64.4%, Chris Cooley – 66.4%, Ben Watson – 69.4%, Kevin Boss – 53.0%, Brent Celek – 57.5%, Dustin Keller – 59.1%.
When Quarless was drafted, I was leery of the pick because of Quarless’ well known disciplinary issues and immaturity while at Penn State. But I also knew what kind of raw talent Quarless possessed. I remember saying on one of the early CheeseheadRadio shows that it would take at least a year or two for Quarless to grow up, bulk up and refine his game.
Quarless’ first season, even if not impressive, just shows he is on schedule.——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.