The timing of quarterback Vince Young signing with the Green Bay Packers certainly seems to suggest that the decision to add a veteran quarterback was directly tied to the struggles of B.J. Coleman in camp and during Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage.
In fact, by signing Young to a one-year deal Monday, the Packers likely revealed their offseason hope that Coleman would beat out Graham Harrell and win the backup job behind starter Aaron Rodgers fair and square for the 2013 season.
But as Coleman has struggled since the start of training camp—culminating in Saturday’s two-interception disappointment during the intra-squad scrimmage—the idea of the former seventh-round pick winning over the trust of Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff has waned. Faced with the prospect of entering another season with Harrell as the primary backup, the Packers finally made a move for Young, who was reportedly in the team’s crosshairs earlier this offseason.
On Tuesday, McCarthy dismissed Young’s addition as a critique of either Coleman or Harrell, but the timing makes that claim hard to believe.
Just a day after Coleman turned the ball over twice—once on a telegraphed and poorly-placed throw that was returned for a touchdown, and another when he made a poor decision to force a pass into the end zone—the Packers had Young flying into Green Bay for a workout. By Monday afternoon, he was signed, sealed and delivered as the team’s fourth quarterback.
McCarthy was more straight forward about his feelings towards Coleman later in his post-practice press conference.
“B.J. did not take the step I was hoping for,” McCarthy said. “But I’m not giving up on B.J. Coleman. I think he has a bright future.”
McCarthy might not be giving up on Coleman long-term, but he’s clearly concerned about his young quarterback’s ability to handle the backup duties for this season.
Harrell, on the other hand, now looks like Plan C in the Packers backup quarterback stable.
Keep in mind, the 28-year-old handled the team’s backup duties in 2012 and actually looked very confident during the Family Night scrimmage. Unofficially, Harrell finished Saturday by completing nine of 12 passes for 88 yards and one touchdown. He led two different scoring drives against bits and pieces of the No. 1 defense, including a long touchdown during the no-huddle segment. It was an efficient and effective performance, one that would have seemed to give Harrell the inside edge to reclaiming his role as the backup quarterback.
Instead, the Packers went out and signed arguably the biggest name left on the quarterback market.
Clearly, McCarthy and his staff came into this offseason wanting Coleman to beat out Harrell for the No. 2 job. If not, the team would have gained confidence in Harrell as a the top backup following Saturday, while also gearing up to potentially send Coleman back to the practice squad for Year 2.
But instead of keeping the status quo, the Packers decided to give Young a legitimate chance to win the job.
And in the process, Harrell has potentially become the team’s fallback option incase Coleman fails to reverse his training camp slide or Young can’t grasp the offense fast enough to win the job.
Some have postulated that Young was brought to Green Bay solely as a scout quarterback for the read-option look, which the Packers will face in both Week 1 and 2 of the regular season. Such a claim—at least in its entirety—doesn’t appear to be based in reality.
Instead, adding Young should be seen as an admission from the Packers that Coleman, the quarterback they wanted to win the backup job in 2013, simply hasn’t done enough to show the staff he’s capable of handling that role this season.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.