The Doomsday Scenario: Are The Green Bay Packers Prepared? All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Is QB Graham Harrell truly prepared to lead the Packers over multiple games?

When Matt Flynn left for a shot at the starting quarterback job with the Seattle Seahawks in the offseason, one question immediately rushed to the forefront for Green Bay Packers fans.

Is Graham Harrell ready?

The answer was hotly debated from the day Flynn signed with Seattle and through mini-camp and OTAs with no definitive answer. The Packers reportedly at least considered a trade for Cleveland Browns QB Colt McCoy during the NFL Draft, but apparently decided that Harrell deserved a clear shot at the backup job.

Now that training camp is underway, Harrell’s prospects as the Packers’ second string quarterback may finally be clearing up.

The early reviews seem to be leaning towards  the idea that while he hasn’t done anything to change coach Mike McCarthy’s mind as far as penciling him in as the number two, he still has plenty of room to grow.  With rookie BJ Coleman showing some promise with his arm but having issues with accuracy, it seems like Harrell has the job by default.

In the NFL,  players need to actually win the job and not take it by default.  This raises the question: Are the Packers truly prepared for a doomsday scenario in Rodgers not only goes down, but goes down for a long time and they have to ride with their backup for more than one or two games?

The answer is doubtful. If the Packers’ offense is a sports car, then Rodgers is the engine.  Remove the engine and the car is going nowhere.  Could the Packers really insert Harrell as the leader of the offense and expect the same ridiculous point production they have had under Rodgers the past two seasons, especially given the way the defense performed last season? No way.

McCarthy and his staff are the best in the business at coaching and developing quarterbacks.  They took Flynn, a seventh round draft pick, and molded him into an NFL starter.  This is not to say that they couldn’t do the same with Flynn, but bear in mind Flynn played for LSU in the SEC and Harrell played for Texas Tech.  Though Flynn was taken just before he was looking at the possibility of being an undrafted free agent, Harrell has been considered a bigger “project” at the position than Flynn was.

If the defense improves enough and the Packers can finally get their running game going, then enough pressure should come off from Harrell.  By moving him up to number two on the depth chart, McCarthy apparently has enough confidence that what ailed the defense and running game in 2011 have been solved.  Had that not been the case, then the Packers either would have pulled the trigger on the McCoy trade or at least looked at bringing in a veteran.

Should the running and defensive issues rear their ugly heads again in 2012, and God forbid Rodgers goes down for an extended period of time, can Harrell successfully drive the Packers offense without stalling the  gears or blowing a tire?

McCarthy and Thompson seem confident he can and there is no reason not to trust their judgment thanks to the Packers’ recent run of success.  Still, you can’t take a gamble at quarterback should the team be in contention for a Super Bowl run.  If the Packers are say 8-2 when Rodgers would go down, it would be in the team’s best interest to bring in a veteran to at least push Harrell or even succeed him should he not perform well.  It’s hard to believe McCarthy and Thompson would be so stubborn and stick to their system of “developing from within” and potentially sacrificing a championship by letting a quarterback who has never seen action in an NFL regular season game learn the ropes.

It’s almost taboo these days to talk about a starting quarterback, let alone the reigning NFL MVP, to go down like this but anything is possible in the NFL.  Who’d have thought Brett Favre would finish his career in Minnesota?  For years no one even considered the situation as even .00000000001% possible yet it happened.

Keep in mind this is a doomsday scenario.  Harrell could work out in the end like Matt Cassel did for the New England Patriots when Tom Brady went down in the first game of the 2008 season.  The Patriots finished 11-5 that season and missed the playoffs, which is rare with that kind of record.

If Rodgers went down and led the team to an 11-5 record, the Packers more than likely would be in the playoffs in which anything can happen as Cheesheads personally witnessed in the divisional round last season.

It’s not a Super Bowl, but given how many think the Packers would be royally screwed (aka destined for 4-12) without Rodgers, it would still be a major victory.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and


  • packett

    Here I have to disagree with you. Good leadership makes a clear stand on who you believe in, and no one knows until adversity, You draft and coach, and if AR goes down, you stick your next guy in there that you invested in. Give it your best shot and believe in your choice and system. Flopping around with a back up committee is no good. Then…if its doomsday, the next guy deserves if he is the type that shines under adversity. A lot of guys do. If he doesn’t….then you already said that doomsday happened.

  • Tarynfor12

    If Rodgers were to go down for a couple of weeks and not the season which would be a doomsday senario,could Harrell have a shot of playing .500 ball for those couple of weeks…absolutely and with as much confidence as any casted off QB floating around or already a backup elsewhere.

  • I remember those questioning Matt Flynn when he was the #2. If you expect zero drop off after the reining MVP goes down, you are going to be very disappointed. Your #2 has to get you though a game or two. If Rodgers goes down for more than that, you really aren’t going to stand much of a chance anyway. You can’t have starting calibre players sitting on the bench at every position, especially Qb. But it does say something that this is the type of thing we are worried about. While other teams struggle to find competent starters, we’re worried about our bench.

  • Rob

    Really, this again? Name another NFL team that couldn’t print the same story. In fact I think you’ve printed the same story the past few years.

  • gbjohnny

    IF IF IF… I got an idea, if any of our really good players get injured, lets get a used up retread,”veteran” to take his place. No reason to give our young backups with no experience a chance. You sir, are a turd.

  • Pat Mc

    How do you replace the Best QB in the league? You don’t. It isn’t a fair question. Let MM develop his QB’s and we take our chance. Of course TT will need to replace the idiot that didn’t block.

    GB has a system and needs to trust it, however – if the best OLB goes down then who do you go get? No one! You go to the next guy up!

  • Mr. Bacon

    It’s not the Packers that should be prepared, its Graham Harrell. Sure the offense runs all around Rodgers, but Rodgers is just like Brees, Brady, Mannings or any other QB in a system.

    They have their own specific play style and it’s up to the backups to learn that system in case the QB goes down.

    Losing a Top 10 QB in the league is not a death sentence if the backup is ready to step in.

    It’s like changing a tire on a car, sure it might be a worse quality than the one that is punctured but it can be serviceable until you can reach your destination.

  • Bubbaloo

    Didn’t this story first appear with Favre and Rogers as the two names?
    If, if, if? If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle! McPuffy knows what he’s got!

    • Bubbaloo

      And oh yeah, speaking of McPuffy, was I the only one that thought there was about 20 pounds more of him last night than there was last year?

  • Dan

    Arod missed a game and a half in 2010 and the Pack lost both games, but went on to win the SB