Was Andrew Quarless a Big Disappointment for the Packers?

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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?

Not to pick on Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette, but I’m going to use something from one of his recent articles because it’s pretty representative of what I’ve been reading;

“… 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.


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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.


  • If people are disappointed, I would be curious to know what their expectations for a 21 year-old, rookie tight end actually are.

  • What Franklin said

    • Bearmeat

      MAN that mustache is all kinds of U.G.L.Y.

      AR is a hero for having the balls to show that to the world, but woo-boy is that thing bad..

      Oh, and Quarless is going to be just fine. The mistakes he made this year I think were simply because his head couldn’t catch up to the speed of the game and his QB. That will change as he matures.

  • FireMMNow

    I have been critical of Quarless mainly because I see the incredible talent that he has. Also, the fact that he played so many snaps for the Packers and had minimal production was an issue for me. I would not use snaps played as a way to measure if a rookie had a successful season. The packers had no choice, they had to play Quarless that much.

    Finley was hurt
    Lee fell of the map

    In the packers offense where Quarless should be getting numerous favorable matchups in that 500+ snaps he should have more production. I still think Quarless can be a high quality starting TE in the NFL, but it was purely mental lapses that gave him problems.

    Even his best play of the year, the TD against the Vikings, was not really a catch. He failed to secure the ball on his way to the ground. Luckily Childress is a mental midget and did nothing about it. McAdoo has his work cut out for him with Quarless, but if he can get him out of that haze, the packers have another matchup problem for defenses.

    • I know that snaps is not the best indicator, but it counts for something. As far as production, that’s dependent on opportunities he was given. Quarless was thrown to 32 times, according to PFF. Not a huge number.

      I just found some other interesting PFF stats I’m going to add to the post…

    • PackersRS

      Remember, Finley didn’t play much in his rookie season not because of Lee, but rather because he simply didn’t knew the playbook. Quarless was better prepared, for what is worth.

      Quarless in his rookie year > Finley in his rookie year

  • Chad Toporski

    I think there was so much hype about Quarless that people’s expectations were amazingly high. And what certainly didn’t help were the constant comparisons to one Jermichael Finley.

  • Ron LC

    As far as I could tell, he didn’t have any of the personal issues he had at Penn State. He performed adequately in the psoition. Not great but ok for a rookie. This year (I’m being optimistic) he needs to step up. I look forward to a better year as Finley’s backup.

    What Demovsky doesn’t seem to understand is that the TE’s selected could easily be used in other roles. Speical Teams and FB come to mind. TT doesn’t give up on his guys that easily.

    Quarles has a year, probably two, to prove himself. If dedicates himself to improving, he’ll have as good a chance as any TE on the roster to succeed.

  • Check out the addendum paragraph I just added to the post…

    • FireMMNow

      just to clarify, I would in not way consider the season Quarless had to be a “Big” disappointment, but I would say he was a small disappointment. If his talent was not so obvious he would not have been a disappointment at all.

      a 65% catch percentage is good, but he does have the most accurate QB IMO in the league throwing to him.
      The other guys on the list had; alex smith or troy smith, donovan mcnabb (not what he used to be), Colt McCoy or Jake Delhomme, Eli Manning (probably the best of the bunch, but not known for his accuracy) and Sanchez. Those guys are not in the same league as Arod.

      If it were not for the drops of Quarless that you mentioned at key times I would not be as down on him as I am.

      • PackersRS

        Now, people who have seen me post know that I’m a borderline Rodgers’ apologist. He is the best QB in the league.

        But he’s not the most accurate, at least with his short passes.

        Like Al said, he has a rifle, but he sometimes puts too much velocity in his short passes. He lacks touch sometimes, which is why he struggles a bit with slants and screens and such.

        That makes it harder for Quarless.

        • FireMMNow

          completely disagree that rodgers struggles with the slants. he throws them better than anyone in the league. this is the nfl, the window to throw a slant is tiny. you have LBs that cover better than at anytime in league history and teams know that the packers are going to run them so they drill it into their D-line to get their hands up. you HAVE to put heat on slants. if you do not you are in trouble. taking a little off of a slant is the difference between a pick six/your WR getting destroyed by a LB or a catch and run. the screen game is up for discussion. some of it is rodgers and some of it is the RB not finding the proper spacing.

          if quarless cannot consistently catch a bullet pass he cannot consistently play in the NFL. he is a PASS CATCHING TE. he is not on the team for his blocking prowess.

          • PackersRS

            Rodgers throws them too high, the short passes. Go and re-watch the games. I understand what you’re saying, but he has to throw them better. He is IMHO the most accurate downfield thrower in the league, but the short passes, I don’t think so. Favre and Montana were the 2 best slant throwers ever, Rodgers is nowhere near them in that department. And both of them rarely got picked while throwing slants.

            Regarding the last paragraph, that’s an immense stretch.
            He needs to adapt to the way Rodgers throws. But suddenly he can’t play in the NFL? Puhlease. We’re talking about a 21 year old rookie, that didn’t struggle with catching the ball in college.

            • FireMMNow

              Packer RS, you said that ARod puts too much velocity on his short passes and that makes it harder for Quarless to catch them. I disagreed. Quarless will have to be able to catch balls with high velocity if he wants to play in the NFL. I did not say he cannot do it, I said he will have to make those catches if he wants to play consistently. Plenty of guys catch the ball fine in college and cannot do it in the NFL. Plenty of guys block and tackle fine in college and cannot do it in the NFL. There is a reason his QB in college switched to RB in the NFL. His arm is the main reason. Saying that Rodgers throws were the reason that Quarless struggled or even part of it is just laughable to me. I like Quarless, I liked him when he was in college, but do not make excuses for him. He has to be consistent. It was his fault that he dropped passes last year and hopefull he can correct it.

            • FireMMNow

              also, Montana may have been better than Rodgers throwing the slant, but saying that Favre was better at it or had better touch while throwing the slant is wrong IMO.

              • PackersRS

                He was. From what I’ve seen and what I’ve heard his ex-teammates saying, he was.

                On regards to putting too much velocity, that’s what I THINK is the reason why he throws those balls high. I didn’t say he wasn’t accurate because he throws them too hard, I’m sorry if that got confused.

                But it is an issue, different speeds of ball. Jennings and Driver talked about it in Rodgers’ first season, how they had to adapt some to Rodgers’ ball, because it was even HARDER than Favre’s. Now imagine a rookie that never played with a big armed QB… It’s not as simple as he can or can’t catch the balls.

                BTW, Finley wasn’t catching a lot of balls in his rookie year either.

              • FireMMNow

                i remember hearing about the players adjusting to Rodgers ball, but it was said in relation Rodgers’ arm strength which was questioned early in his career. Their statement was more of a compliment to him and a testament to his skill set than a drawback. We are on semantics now, but the drops that Quarless incurred were his fault. As long as we can agree on that I am fine. Maybe Rodgers throws the ball with high velocity and his placement is high…it does not matter. My point was, Quarless will have to learn to make those catches or he will not have a place on this team. Rodgers in not going to take any heat off of his ball. He has the physical ability, but does he have the mental makeup and attention to detail that it will require.

              • Bearmeat

                Sorry Fire MM – you are wrong here. BF was much better at the slants than AR. AR’s best throws are the posts, comebacks, fades, etc… the LONG stuff. BF had a rifle but not as much touch on the long ones. (Hence his propensity to just chuck it downfield and hope for the best at times)

                Go look at interviews about MM’s playcalling in 08 and early 09. He says as much.

              • FireMMNow

                maybe i am wrong. I could not tell you if Montana was better or not. I am sure he was. He is the best of all time. I guess I just do not remember throwing the slant as favre’s best attribute. he was good at it, but i do not remember his touch being that great. i will accept that favre is better on the slant if you will accept that the rest of your argument is flawed packerRS. deal? sweet.

              • I have to chime in and back RS and Bearmeat here. Favre was great at the slant because he was always on target. Always leading the receiver perfectly so he can catch it in stride. Rogers is not as accurate on that pattern. He does tend to throw it high ans sometimes behind the receiver. I have to give this one to Favre.

              • FireMMNow

                you guys are jerks and viewing favre’s career through little half erect penis colored glasses. j/k, fine you are right. i will concede. but A-rods accuracy/velocity was not the reason for the struggles quarless had.

            • Lucas

              Holmgren was always on Favre’s case to “put the ball here, not here.” It was a major emphasis of Walsh and Holmgren. Early Favre had to be reigned in, i.e. “No more rocket balls…” but he improved with age. MM doesn’t seem to focus on the slant as much…and I believe that’s one reason our YAC has decreased.

  • Michalske

    People have varying opinions about Football Outsiders’ player rating system, but it’s one way to compare performance relative to other players. Per FO, Quarless ranked 31st among all TEs, which basically means he was barely adequate as a starter.

    Of course, as Al points out he was a 21 year old 5th round draft pick — isn’t ‘adequate starter’ about the top of the range for a 5th round rookie?

    I also agree that DJWiliams could be looked at as a fullback/HBack conversion (mainly because of his size) and Taylor is mainly a special teamer. These guys are replacing the often injured Korey Hall, not Andrew Quarless.

    • Fully agree – I’ve made that point several times. Williams and Taylor being drafted mean the end of the 3 FB party. And I agree that Korey Hall is probably the one to go, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it were Quinn Johnson, since Hall is a major ST contributor and QJ is not at all.

      • Chad Toporski

        I’ll be interested to see what happens with the FB position, since Hall was not tendered, Kuhn was, and (as you said) Johnson seems to be the odd one out as far as what he contributes.

  • Pete Kliman

    He’s a good backup TE that will be very valuable in our two TE formations.All this conversing just reminds me again what a great but strange season this was .Who would think that we would have this great run with a rookie TE with only 21 catches.It reminds me of the Mets in 69, Amazing!

    • BubbaOne

      …and our starting HB was a 6th round rookie who spent the first 3/4 of the season on PUP.

      in 2009, we started the season w/ 5 WR’s-4 TE’s-3 FB’s and 2 RB’s for a total of 14. I could see
      this year being:
      5-4-1-4 (if Jackson returns)
      4-5-1-4 (if some TE’s are used as WR’s)

      I think Hall (injuries) and QJ (limited skill set) are let go; replaced by H-Backs DJ and Taylor.

      • BubbaOne

        Oops…I meant to say…in 2010

  • WIM

    you say andrew quarles, i shut my eyes and see him “covering” the hester punt runback in the first bear game. he wasn’t even trying.

  • chris k

    who do you think makes it to be our FB’s & TE’s? I see what your saying about quinns limits and hall leaving for inability to stay the whole seasons length. I think John Kuhn and quinn stays…. remember we are not going to have sufficient time to train these rookies with this lockout crap going on!! we will keep veteran depth. at TE i see jf-1, aq-2, tc-3, and dw-4 and the two fb’s. ryan taylor will be on the practice squad and most likely so will the other 6th and 7th rounders with so little time to digest and learn this upcoming year…..

    • FireMMNow

      there is a chance that we will keep an extra HB as well.

      Jackson or Nance (BJ depends on rules of CBA)

      therefore, I would not be surprised if Johnson is gone as well. he does not play special teams very well and the packers use a true lead FB about 5% of the time. Kuhn, Crabtree or DJ could fill that role and play STs. Johnson or ManBearPig as me and my friends call him did not make sense when we drafted him and still does not make sense for this team. I agree that taylor has PS written all over him.

  • mikey

    to all commentors…why all this talk? it will all play out in camp, if there is one. can’t we let the professionals do their jobs? is your job jar empty? no hobbies? no activities? maybe you can find a touch football league you can join? that’ll learn ya!

    • FireMMNow

      the Packers are our hobby moron…why did you read the article if you just want to wait until camp.

    • Um, because we are passionate fans that live or die with the Green Bay Packers. We enjoy talking about football and learning as much as we can about the game. This is not the place for casual fans that are more interested in who Aaron Rodgers is dating than who will make the roster. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a casual fan, but it’s not for me.

    • Oppy

      To Mikey:

      The website: allgreenbaypackers.com

      The Tag Line: Commentary, Opinions, History and Analysis of the Green Bay Packers

      The Motto: All Packers, All the Time

      Get it?

  • jOe

    Who is A Rod dating now? Just kidding!

    Instead of compairing Quarless to Finley, what happens when you compair him with other rookies from last year. Say Buluga, Shields or Starks. All three made big statements despite being almost the same age (Starks is a little older,) but you get the point. In that regard, Quarless didn’t do so hot.

  • Taryn

    Who would get a pat on the ass from you guys first…Quarless or Jones?Who do you want to keep if you had to chose?
    I’ll keep Quarless and pat his ass also before Jones.
    Quarless is still teachable…Jones just thinks he can and can’t.

    • Oppy

      Disagree about James Jones.

      The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing, holding back James Jones is focus.

      When/ If James Jones focuses himself, he is a play maker. If he departs the PAckers, he will be a fine starter in this league somewhere. Perhaps he’s not a Greg Jennings, but he should make his mark for some team.

      That said, I think Quarless has a ton of upside and the thought of him growing into his potential and being on the field with Finley in a two TE set is enough to make me say I’d stick with Quarless over Jones as well.

      • FireMMNow

        i would take jones over quarless. they have the same issue but jones has proven more. I know, I know he has had more time, but if I had to give up one at this moment it would be quarless. also, it is easier to find TEs in the draft than quality WRs that fit the packers system.

  • PackersRS

    Was Rodgers throwing footballs that were uncatchable? Absolutely not. He was making fairly good throws.

    But it was the problem. I understand what you are saying, that he should’ve catched the balls anyway, but it’s not that easy. Rodgers didn’t make it easy for Quarless to adapt. Rodgers’ slant throws don’t help a receiver, if you will. He more than compensates with virually every other aspect of his game, and I have no doubt he will work hard on it.

    Some guys just take some time to adapt, it doesn’t mean they don’t have good hands, that’s the whole point in this.

    Don’t throw Quarless under the bus just yet, because all his problems are easily fixable, and the talent is there.