The second string quarterback for the Green Bay Packers is much like your local medical rescue squad: you want the best talent there is but hope and pray that you never need them.
The Packers made a subtle but bold move this off-season when they replaced their primary backup quarterback. Gone is the security blanket provided by Matt Flynn. Enter last year’s number three QB Scott Tolzien.
In Tolzien the Packers feel that they have a player with a greater upside and more impressive physical tools to work with over Flynn.
Tolzien says he is ready to accept his role as Aaron Rodgers understudy and will be able to direct the potent Packers offense should the need arise.
With all due respect Scott, we sincerely hope that you never have to play in a meaningful game for the green-and-gold.
During the off-season Tolzien signed a one-year, $1.375 million deal to become the team’s number two quarterback. The contract however, contained just $100,000 in guaranteed money. It will be up to Tolzien to show the team what he can do and earn yet another chance next year.
Scott Tolzien went undrafted in 2011 but caught on with the San Diego Chargers. He was waived that summer and spent the ensuing two years on the roster of the San Francisco 49’ers before being cut loose in late August of 2013. It was then that the Packers picked him up. At the time it seemed like a shrewd tactical move by the Packers who were opening that season against the 49’ers. Tolzien could supply Intel and strategy. Many in fact assumed that once the Packers picked his brain he would be sent on his way.
That however was not the case. The 27 year-old Tolzien stuck. He is known as one of the hardest workers on the team and his teammates universally come away impressed with his desire to pay the price to succeed.
The Packers also invested a fifth-round draft choice this year in highly acclaimed former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. How soon can Hundley push Tolzien for the No. 2 job? He possesses better athletic ability, superior size, speed, perhaps even arm strength. Tolzien however has the better grasp of the offense. Hundley did well in the rookie mini-camp practices but was absent for the start of this week’s OTA’s while attending the mandatory NFLPA Rookies Premiere in Los Angeles.
It would be stunning if Hundley were to acclimate himself to the Packers complex offense well enough to earn the number two position behind Rodgers. The Packers feel comfortable that Tolzien can carry the burden if called upon to do so.
Many fans forget that Tolzien was on the roster of the Green Bay Packers for just nine weeks in 2013 when he was thrust into duty after Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) and Seneca Wallace (groin) went down with injuries. And he actually performed pretty well.
Playing in about 2½ games, Tolzien completed just over 61% of his 90 passes for 717 yards. Those who watched Tolzien quarterback the Wisconsin Badgers were surprised by his improved athleticism and arm strength from his days at Madison. However Tolzien also threw five interceptions and notched just one touchdown. Eventually he was replaced with Flynn.
When he was asked by the media as to how things would differ today were he be thrust into meaningful playing time, he responded “I think I’d be more comfortable with the offense and the guys around you. I think really you’ve got to put your own time in because getting the reps in practice, so I think there’s more of a mental side of it as far as my full reps.”
“I think I’ve gotten better. But it’s a business and what have you done lately. So you’re always constantly trying to improve, even in the off-season. I think every day makes a difference.”
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” Tolzien added. “And I love my teammates, the coaches, our offense. I’ve enjoyed it. I really have. I don’t know if you can match it anywhere else.”
Meanwhile reigning NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers arrived at Thursday’s OTA’s declaring that he is healed from his left calf injury which hobbled him at the end of last season. He noted however that aesthetically his leg has not yet returned to normal.
At the present time Packers fans can feel pretty good about their quarterback position. The reigning league MVP is healthy and raring to go. For now Tolzien has settled in at number two and has the background and talent to direct the club in the short-term should the need arise. Brett Hundley will get the coaching and experience, at least in the pre-season, to start off what everyone hopes will be a long and successful career.——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .