For a team that whose quarterback fortunes have been touched by the football Gods themselves over the past 20+ years, it would seem that the Green Bay Packers could probably write the book on how to handle and develop the most important position on the field.
Alas, they learned a tough lesson in 2013 and one that hopefully will set up a more ideal situation with their signal callers in 2014. I tend to like to revisit history quite a bit so let’s recap the quarterback situation last year for the Packers.
Heading into 2013, Green Bay had Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman set to go at quarterback and there was little question about whether they would all be on the roster, just a matter of how.
There was hesitation about Harrell after his subpar performances during the 2012 season but his experience in the offense was enough to instill the coaching staff’s confidence in him. Coleman was expected, by many, to step up and make a jump between his first and second seasons. Still, he was a possibility to land on the team’s practice squad again.
Neither of them made it to week one and questions began to fly about why so much was expected out of such mediocre players. Were the Packers losing their luster in being able to develop young passers? Both Harrell and Coleman were released during the preseason and the Packers signed veteran Vince Young, who had not played at all the season prior. Young was a complete dud and the Packers released him after the last preseason game. The Packers then turned to Seneca Wallace to back up Rodgers but he had no time to practice or play with his new teammates in a game situation before the season started.
While Rodgers had missed a few games up until then, there was little reason to be too concerned about who was behind #12 as he had a strong history of being healthy and available. Unfortunately, Rodgers’ collarbone wasn’t quite as strong and was broken during a week six game against the Chicago Bears. Suddenly the Packers and their fans were in unfamiliar territory: they would have to rely on their backup quarterback for an extended period of time.
Wallace was less-than-stellar in relief of Rodgers against the Bears and in starting the game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He suffered a season-ending groin injury. Behind Wallace was Scott Tolzien, who had been promoted from the practice squad when Rodgers went down. Tolzien was serviceable and had a chance to showcase his arm strength, but was unable to lead the Packers to a victory in his two starts.
The situation got to the point where the Packers brought back Matt Flynn, who was on the street after being released by both the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills last year. Flynn sparked the team and kept them afloat until Rodgers could return in week 17 to catapult the Packers to another division title and into the playoffs.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson has admitted that he probably could have handled the quarterback situation better last year. In looking at the outset this year, it would appear that Thompson took that lesson to heart. He has not ignored the quarterback position this season. While the Packers didn’t draft a quarterback, they did return both Flynn and Tolzien. They also signed undrafted free agent Chase Rettig out of Boston College.
In Flynn, the Packers have a known entity. A guy who knows the offense and who can come in and click with the other starters. He’s no Aaron Rodgers (who is?) but he can lead the offense down the field and punch it in. He also plays well when not in the lead, which is something that even the Rodgers-led Packers have been criticized for not doing over the past several seasons.
Tolzien has reportedly gotten off to a good start during the team’s organized team activities (OTA’s) and looks to be developing more comfort within the offense. He is said to be a good student of the game and one who works hard on his mental reps and learning the nuances of the offense. He’s an ideal third quarterback who is not likely to play during crunch time while he continues to develop rapport with the team and learn to guide an offense. The few reps that he did get in his two starts last season surely have to be helping catapult his learning curve.
Rettig is not likely to beat out either Flynn nor Tolzien and if he does last throughout the preseason, likely ends up on the team’s practice squad. He has his work cut out for him, but a shot at the practice squad and some time to work with the Packers coaching staff is likely why he chose Green Bay over other options when he signed on a few weeks back.
Rodgers is clearly the starter and I foresee Flynn as the top back up with Tolzien as the third option with all three of them on the active roster this season. Tolzien is no longer eligible for the practice squad so the Packers would be releasing him if they decide not to carry three quarterbacks, for whatever reason. Thompson surely won’t make that mistake again, right?
With three quarterbacks who seemingly have a solid grasp on the offense and who have all started a game at the NFL level, Packer nation is ensured that there won’t be any more gross mismanagement this season. Rodgers has been doing more yoga during the offseason so that automatically means he’ll just stretch like Gumby (the green, stretch toy, not Jimmy Gantner) and avoid any further bone or joint injuries. All of the world’s problems are solved!
Not quite. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice. . . nah!
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: