2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Quarterback

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Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers
Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, and the guidance of Mike McCarthy, the Packers are set at QB.

Packers quarterbacks:  That Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good. Should he ever get hurt for an extended stretch (God forbid), things could go south in a hurry. Most teams are in the same boat as the Packers when it comes to quarterback. If the starter gets hurt, they’re screwed. Fans like to get all worked up over the backup quarterback. “Bring in a good backup,” they yell. “I want someone with experience,” they cry. Well, if the backup QB was good, he probably wouldn’t be a backup in the first place. And bringing in a veteran? I’ll take a low-cost young guy with a high ceiling over someone with experience who is overpriced, washed up, and probably no good, anyway.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

Aaron Rodgers (1st round)
Graham Harrell (7th round)
B.J. Coleman (7th round)

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Aaron Rodgers: The most physically gifted quarterback in the game. By now, we all know what Rodgers is good at. If we wanted him to be even better, I suppose we could point to his tendency to hold the ball and ignore underneath receivers. Sometimes it feels like Rodgers is almost too talented for his own good. He’s always trying to wriggle around the pocket and keep his eyes downfield, hoping a receiver comes open deep for a bomb. Sometimes you want to shake Rodgers and tell him that there’s nothing wrong with a “normal” five-yard pass every now and then. That’s getting really nit-picky, though. It’s not like Rodgers never throws underneath and always holds the ball too long.

Graham Harrell: Is Harrell the young QB who can be developed into something useful that I was talking about in the introduction? It didn’t look like it in 2012. Harrell’s arm strength is below average and he looks clumsy. But he’s still young. Real young. Matt Flynn didn’t look like much, either, at first. Don’t count out Mike McCarthy’s ability to make a bad young QB into a useful young QB. I wonder how long of a leash Harrell has. If he doesn’t show significant improvement over the summer and in training camp, do the Packers go with B.J. Coleman, or take another flyer on a QB late in the draft?

B.J. Coleman: I know next to nothing about this guy. I did a draft profile on him about a year ago. I know that Jersey Al likes him. I know that Rodgers and the Packers coaching staff have praised Coleman’s work ethic and his dedication to learning everything about the offense and getting better. That’s all well and good, but can he play? Only the Packers coaches have an idea about the answer to that question. We didn’t see much of Coleman last season, even in the preseason. Perhaps that was the Packers’ way of keeping Coleman hidden so nobody else claimed him.

So that’s where we are. Next let’s look at…

Where we want to be: The Packers are right where they want to be at QB. They have (arguably) the best QB in the NFL, and two young guys backing him up that McCarthy can mold any way he wants.

How do we get there?

There’s no need for the Packers to waste resources on a “good backup quarterback.” That phrase is an oxymoron. McCarthy and his other coaches need to have a come to Jesus meeting about Harrell and decide if they need to cut ties, focus on Coleman, and maybe take another flyer on a QB late in the draft.

If McCarthy does decide that he wants to go with a more experienced backup, I hope he finds someone that can run. I have no idea who that might be, because I really don’t care. I’m not going to waste my time researching backup quarterbacks. The Packers probably aren’t, either.


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


23 thoughts on “2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Quarterback

  1. I disagree that a decent backup would be a waste of resources. While ARod has proven to be durable over his tenure as a starter, he still takes a lot of hits and his penchant for playing on the move (which makes him so effective) also opens him up to a variety of other injuries.

    Every team that considers itself a contender needs to have a backup that can capably fill in for 2-4 games. I’ve beat this drum before. In the case of the Packers, with a moribund running game and a defense that hasn’t proven to be the most stalwart in the league, the monumental step down from an ARod to a Graham Harrell over even just 2 games could cost the Packers a playoff spot.

    1. What teams that consider themselves contenders have a decent backup? I don’t think there are 32 starting caliber QBs in the NFL let alone star QBs.

      1. I agree…


        a team who considers themselves a contender should concern themselves with finding and retaining a back-up QB that is capable enough to step and not lose games they shouldn’t- a guy who can command the offense in “safe” mode, move the sticks, check down, throw it away, protect the ball, and get the team home wins and avoid losses away vs. inferior teams. A guy who can handle not blowing a manageable situation, and keep the seat warm for the starter’s return, so to speak.

        Yes, if the starting QB is lost for the season, you’re EFFED. That said, a contender doesn’t want to flush the season because the back up QB couldn’t keep a lead for 12 minutes in an important game when the starter is pulled due to a shoulder sprain. A contender would like to have a back up QB who can get the team through a 3 game window if the starter is sidelined with concussion without blowing homefield advantage, or god forbid, a playoff birth.

        I’m not saying we need to go crazy for a big name guy, a guy with experience, etc… But damn, let’s not just say QB#2 isn’t important.. It is.

        1. I’ll say it. QB#2 isn’t important.

          Scott Tolzien (SF), Tyrod Taylor (BAL), Ryan Mallet (NE), Luke McCown (NO), Josh Portis (SEA), Davis Dominique (ATL)

          These are the current backup quarterbacks for some of the better teams right now (You can replace Brady Quinn with Portis if you want). I would argue that none of these players are significantly better than Harrell and in all honesty I would probably pick Harrell out of this bunch as well.

          Two examples this year where teams had decent backups were the Seahawks with Matt Flynn and the 49ers with Alex Smith; both players can command a “safe mode” offense and would be great off the bench in a pinch. What do both teams do during the offseason? They traded them away. Both teams have every reason to believe that they will be contenders this year as well, but they had no issue with looking for a new backup quarterback. In particular, Flynn’s contract was very affordable but the Seahawks felt they got a better deal trading him for 5th round pick and a conditional pick next year.

          Realistically, if all you are looking for is a quarterback that won’t lose a game, there are a ton of them and I believe that Harrell is one of them. Yes he botched the handoff but that’s one play and one play is never indicative of a player’s ability.

      2. I used the word “capable”; “decent” is your word. The inherent flaw is that we’re comparing backups on a level playing field with starters, which (as you note) isn’t likely to work.

  2. But how do you define “decent backup?” To me, decent backup is a young player that McCarthy can coach up and the rest of the league knows little about.

    For some reason, most other people’s definition of “decent backup” is an older quarterback who failed as a starter and isn’t very good.

    Jason Campbell was supposed to be a decent backup for the Bears last season. He was terrible. The Vikings threw a bunch of money at Matt Cassel to backup Ponder. Matt Cassel!

    I’ll take Harrell, who still may be salvageable, over a washed up older guy who was never very good anyway every time.

    1. Entering the 2012 training camp, I was all for the development of Harrell.

      After seeing the results- and I hate to be cliche’- but I think the Graham Harrell experiment should draw to a close unless he shows MAJOR, OBVIOUS improvement this training camp.

      Otherwise, cut bait, give coleman Harrell’s reps, and bring in the next kid.

  3. With ya on that Adam. Regardless of AR’s backup, the O goes into total ball control, mistake avoidance and rely on Crosby’s leg to keep them in the game. The D will have to step up big time. Save the Cap Space and keep Harrell.

        1. Is Doug Pederson still available??

          Best back up QB ever.

          Seriously, THAT’S a back up QB you want.

          1. I hear Rich Campbell will come cheap. I think he’s renting a room from Robbie Bosco.

  4. Packers are playing Double Jeopardy with this position. If Rodgers gets injured, the Packers can neither turn to a viable running game or a capable back-up QB. This team is one sprained knee or ankle away from a 4 game losing streak – if they’re lucky. Any more severe of an injury to AR, say goodbye to a season.

    1. That’s basically true for any team. The better the quarterback, the more dependent the team is on him and the worse the fall is when he’s injured. There’s simply no way around it, the NFL is a quarterback driven league and there aren’t enough star quarterbacks to go around.

  5. I am excited to see BJ Coleman this preseason. MM definitely hid him last year. he would not even let him attempt a pass. i think he will beat out graham harrell for the backup job. he has all the tools. i am hoping we can spin him in to a draft pick in another year or two.

    1. I’m assuming if you think the Packers will be dealing Coleman in a year or two, that there is a QB in this year’s draft you think the Packers will acquire to coach up to take Coleman’s spot?

      1. No QB pick in the 2013 draft. I think TT missed out by not taking Zac Dysert.

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