Packers vs. Browns: A Closer Look at the Backup QB Position

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Aaron Rodgers and Colt McCoy
Aaron Rodgers and Colt McCoy

Packers backup quarterback Graham Harrell replaced Aaron Rodgers on the team’s first possession in the second quarter, and he remained on the field well into the fourth quarter.

The Packers got an extensive look at Harrell during the game, but in almost three quarters of action, he was only able to muster up a meager three points for the offense. Harrell completed 12 of 24 passes for 100 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. And he drew a flag for intentional grounding in the endzone, resulting in a safety.

In completing fifty-percent of his passes, throwing two picks and recording a safety, it was a night to forget for the Packers’ backup quarterback.

But on the other sideline, Cleveland backup QB Colt McCoy looked like his usual steady self during his only possession of the night.

McCoy replaced starter Brandon Weeden in the middle of the third quarter and led the Browns on an impressive 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped off by a Brandon Jackson touchdown run. The former Texas star carved up the Packers’ reserves, completing four of six passes for 58 yards on the drive.

With the starting job occupied by Weeden, many have speculated about McCoy’s availability via trade. The most common suggestions to land McCoy? The Philadelphia Eagles with QB-guru Andy Reid, and the Packers.

General manager Ted Thompson certainly won’t speak on any specific personnel moves until something comes to fruition, but if the Browns offer McCoy for a late-round draft pick, Thompson may be tempted.

It’s clear that the Packers are one of the most talented teams in the NFL at full strength. However, if Rodgers were to get hurt and miss a few games, would the coaching staff be comfortable with Harrell leading the offense?

In Cleveland’s 35-10 preseason demolition of the Packers on Thursday Night, one backup quarterback looked like he could win a couple spot starts in the regular season. He was on the Browns’ sideline, and his name is Colt McCoy.

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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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  • CSS

    I understand the consensus concern related to Graham Harrell and whether he has an NFL arm with NFL accuracy. Count me among those that have been cynical since he was picked up.

    That being said, what makes people believe Colt McCoy can win you games against starting caliber defenses? Cleveland, during his tenure, simplified a west coast offense catered to his arm-strength and overall abilities. Also, they were often playing from behind where the opposing defense gave Cleveland and McCoy the middle of the field (they all but conceded the completions).

    You would think he could muster more than a 58% career completion percentage, wouldn’t you? Were talking high-percentage throws, regardless of who he was throwing to.

    His receivers aren’t good, but his line was above average.

    Would McCoy be an upgrade over Harrell? Sure, I can buy it. Would he win games in Rodgers absence? Hell no.

    • Mr. Bacon

      I am skeptical of any QB’s that come from a Air Raid, or Spread system. Graham comes from a Air Raid at Texas Tech.

      Urban Meyer QB’s haven’t really done well… Chris Leak, Alex Smith, Tim Tebow

      Jim Tressel QB’s are Troy Smith and Pryor.

      Not saying the system will mean the death penalty for any NFL prospects, but I think the systems don’t really prepare you fully like a pro system. It’s a system based on flashy and speedy plays all on athleticism. Pro system is more technical, and about precision which in the NFL is more needed than athletics.

      • Oppy

        Just out of curiosity, who was Joey Harrington’s college QB coach/OC, and who else came from that line? Pretty sure there are some other famous flops from that line, aren’t there?

    • Brad

      Well, it isn’t like Cleveland has/had any explosive weapons to offer McCoy on offense during his tenure.

  • I bleed green more

    Harrell needs lots of work, and I do mean lots of work.

  • Tarynfor12

    Colt McCoy will be in Arizona long before he wears the Green and Gold.

    He doesn’t have a say in where he can go but,he wants to play as a starter.

    Never bring a guy in who doesn’t want the job you’re offering.

    This is the McCoy situation.

    MM isn’t putting nearly one quarter the blame on Harrell as the fans.

    • Oppy

      MM’s press conference post game suggested MM is not very happy with Graham Harrell’s outing.

      Read between the lines:

      He said the positives were Harrell improved his scrambling ability, that running the ball wasn’t part of his game previously.

      That was the end of his positives.

      His negatives:

      He missed some throws. Bad decisions.

      He said (I’m paraphrasing)not to worry, because his QB coaches correct mistakes better than any other coaches the league.

      When the pros are ‘He ran for firsts downs nice’ and a guy goes out of his way to tell the world his staff is top notch and correcting poor play, that’s a good indicator Coach wasn’t happy with the performance. At. All.

      Just my take, I guess.

  • Mr. Bacon

    I am not sure of the Brown’s system with Brad Childress. Even though Colt looked good I wouldn’t be so sure of bringing in Colt for a backup would be a solution if Aaron goes down.

    Flynn was with Rodgers for 3 years if I recall. Rodgers would go down, and Flynn was capable of leading the team. Rodgers for the most part was literally the offense as he has reached the point of a Payton Manning. He is able to scan the field and adjust hot routes.

    Flynn understood the concept that Aaron was doing with the offense. Where the OC would simply call a base play, and Aaron would adjust on the field.

    How does this mean Harrell is the right backup, no. What I am trying to point out is this. I can visually see a couple of offenses where you know the scheme. The Packers being one of them, and Cleveland has always been a team that’s never been consistent.

    Plus this is a new coordinator this year for the Browns, so the scheme would be simplified for the QB to pick up. If the Packers think Colt is the backup they want, fine with me.

    All I will say though is that don’t expect Colt to have the same success with Green Bay like he showed last night with Cleveland. If he was to join a franchise with a more detailed and in-depth system actually based around a QB you will probably not see the same results right away.

  • Dan

    Harrell QBing a team = A Loss. Is this what we want?

  • Dan

    What bothers me just as much ,or more, then our back up QB, is our CB playing 10 yards off the recievers! If this soft coverage doesn’t change, we will have the same D as last year.

  • PissedoffinAZ

    Glad I fell asleep.

  • azgunrunner

    If Rodgers were to get hurt and miss a few games, would the coaching staff be comfortable with Harrell leading the offense? I seriously doubt it! The Pack better get serious about a back-up QB and start looking around (they probably already have!) Without Rodgers at the helm, it would be a LONNNNG season.

  • Roy Seay

    Graham Harrell is winner.
    There is no reason to panic.
    “If you want to know where somebody is going – just look where they have been”.
    This guy still holds records in college & HS. Heisman candidate, Johnny Unitas Award, mastered the greatest comeback in college history vs UT, greatest single play in college history with Crabtree, etc. I saw this guy break several bones before the half against Baylor- he went in at the half wrapped his hand came back in the 2nd half and win the game from two touchdowns behind.
    The guy does not like to lose and will do whatever it takes to win.

  • Zeman

    Roy,
    I hope your right. Gram has looked like crap in each game. The way he been playing if Rodgers is out… The Packers are screwed! I have no confidence in him.