I attempt to take a look at what is the very best possible season a player is capable of producing, and on the other hand, what would happen if a player fell flat on his face (without assuming they suffer a season-ending injury). These are intended to be extreme scenarios on both sides of the spectrum. More than likely, each player is going to fall somewhere in the middle, but every now and then, they just so happen to come to fruition.
As one final note, I also try to take a look at what these scenarios would be from an individual standpoint and not necessarily what's best (or worst) for the team.
Best-case scenario: Rodgers may have finished sixth on the NFL Network's list of the league's Top 100 players in 2013, but by 2014 he's back in the top spot with no questions asked. It's yet another year in which he attempts more than 500 passes and completes more than two-thirds of them for easily more than 4,000 yards. Like usual, he ranks No. 1 in the NFL in quarterback rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio. But perhaps best of all for Rodgers' health and the Packers' fortunes, he's subjected to less than 35 sacks, thanks to a combination of better protection and Rodgers getting rid of the football more quickly.
Worst-case scenario: Rodgers has reached a point in his career where a bad year for him is more than likely better than most other quarterbacks' good years. But 2013 is the year where age catches up to Rodgers from a mobility standpoint. His arm is fine, but gone are the days where he rushes for more than 250 yards and averages more than four yards per carry. The Packers can still win without Rodgers' legs as they have plenty of good skill position players to make up for it, but fantasy football owners might be annoyed. Even a poor year by Rodgers' standards still includes a completion percentage over 60, nearly 4,000 passing yards and between 25 and 30 touchdown passes. The sacks yielded is still a problem, however, as Rodgers endures another 50 more.
Best-case scenario: If there were a ranking of the NFL's backup quarterbacks, Harrell escapes the basement. He's still not the caliber of a Matt Flynn, who backed up Rodgers for four seasons in Green Bay, but at least Harrell isn't a liability. He uses the preseason to the best of his advantage, leading the Packers on several touchdown drives and relying upon his accuracy to get the job done. While Harrell plays only sparingly in the regular season, he does a solid job and has the trust and respect of his teammates. There's no more egregious fumbles returned for touchdowns.
Worst-case scenario: Unfortunately for Harrell, he loses out on the No. 2 job in Green Bay. His arm strength just isn't up to par for NFL standards and when he throws multiple interceptions in the exhibition season, his fate is sealed. He's no longer eligible for the practice squad, so the Packers have to part ways with Harrell. There's no other team willing to offer him a spot on their 53-man roster, so Harrell starts life as an NFL journeyman, finding another job only when injuries necessitate it.
Best-case scenario: Thanks to his outstanding measurables and pure arm strength, Coleman wins the backup quarterback gig. He's made major strides since his rookie year, and it shows in the preseason. When the Packers give him a nice long audition, he proves himself by making plays with his arm and with his legs by completing passes on the run. There's a higher ceiling for Coleman as opposed to Harrell and the potential to become the next Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks or Flynn who goes onto bigger and better things in his post-Packers career.
Worst-case scenario: Coleman just can't supplant Harrell for the clipholder job in Green Bay. He looks the part in shells and in practice when he can't get hit, but during a game environment, Coleman crumbles under the pressure. He throws more interceptions than touchdowns in the preseason, which doesn't cut it in Mike McCarthy's offense. There's a possibility the Packers carry Coleman as a third quarterback on their 53-man roster, but if not, he's asked to stay on the practice squad for one more season.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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