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Packers Shouldn't Overreact to Last Season by Carrying Three Quarterbacks

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Packers Shouldn't Overreact to Last Season by Carrying Three Quarterbacks

Green Bay Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien by Benny Sieu—USA TODAY Sports.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien by Benny Sieu—USA TODAY Sports.

The 2013 season in Green Bay was memorable—for all the wrong reasons—for the myriad of problems the Packers had to endure at the quarterback position.

When Aaron Rodgers was lost for seven consecutive games with a broken collarbone, the carousel of quarterbacks began spinning.

First the Packers went with longtime veteran Seneca Wallace, then turned to Scott Tolzien before finally settling on Matt Flynn.

And that was before the failed experiments of Vince Young, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman back during training camp.

It was a once-in-a-decade embarrassment of injuries and ineptitude at the most-important position on the football field.

The lesson the Packers should have learned from 2013 is not that they need depth at the quarterback position, however. It's the "once in a decade" part.

It would be a mistake and an overreaction for the Packers to carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster as they enter the regular season in 2014.

By carrying a third quarterback, one that ideally won't play a single snap this season, the Packers would have to sacrifice a player at another position.

Think of the promising young players that have had breakout training camp campaigns: Jayrone Elliott, Mike Pennel, Jumal Rolle. Keeping a third quarterback might mean having to cut one of these future contributors.

"It's like any position, Matt and Scott aren't just competing against each other," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "This goes back to the way we've always picked a team. You have to keep your best players. They're really competing against the other positions, and that's really what it will come down to."

Yes, there is a degree of risk involved in keeping only two quarterbacks.

The Packers would necessarily have to develop a third quarterback on the practice squad. And if Aaron Rodgers misses as little as one game with a relatively minor injury, the Packers would have to make a transaction to add another quarterback to their active roster regardless.

But that's a chance the Packers should be willing to take.

Scott Tolzien has proved himself this preseason. His command of the offense is light years better than a year ago, and he has the requisite NFL arm strength, more than Matt Flynn.

A preseason stat line reading 26 of 38 for 338 yards, completing 68.4 percent of his passes, averaging 8.9 yards per pass, avoiding any turnovers and accumulating a passer rating of 104.9 is all the proof needed to keep Tolzien around.

In the event the Packers suffer an injury and need Matt Flynn, there's a decent chance he's available at a moment's notice as a street free agent just like he was last season when the Packers signed him to a contract.

Sure, there's a possibility Flynn gets picked up by another NFL team, but there's an equally good chance he doesn't.

The Packers will also be an attractive destination for any quarterback cut by another NFL team at the end of training camp, not unlike how the Packers originally acquired Tolzien on the practice squad last season.

Any quarterback should know that by signing with Green Bay, he becomes the de facto third-string quarterback, even if he's only on the practice squad.

Combine all these factors, and it's just not worth keeping a third quarterback on the 53-man roster.

This isn't an original thought, but as plenty of others have said before: If Rodgers suffers a season-ending injury, the chances of the Packers winning the Super Bowl is probably nil anyway.

And if the Packers just have to get through a rough patch with Rodgers missing a handful of games, it's time to place some faith in Tolzien.

Tolzien is not the heir apparent to Rodgers, and he doesn't have to be. He just has to be a reliable NFL backup. And based on his play this preseason, he looks like he can handle that responsibility.

 

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Scott Tolzien has proved himself this preseason. "
By scoring one TD against third stringers? I disagree. I don't care about QB rating or any other metric or stat or what a guy looks like. I care about putting the ball in end zone. Tolzien has not been good at getting the ball into the endzone last season or this preseason, even against backups.

"You have to keep your best players."
This season Flynn and Tolzien are a part of the best 53 players, so keeping them is not overreacting, it's just keeping the best football players.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Well, there's also people who want to have a civil conversation regarding their opinions about football and low class fans like you who are here to insult those you don't agree with.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

I don't post much, but I read a lot of comments on this site. Goldfinger, I don't know what hole you crawled out of, but please go back. Your condescending bs comments suck as much as your perceived football knowledge. Im surprised you didn't bring up your advanced scouting reports on budding all pros Elliot and Pennel in this article. I don't respect your opinions or the way you present them. Go away.

DraftHobbyist's picture

Hey now! I stuck up for you. You know what post I'm talking about. That post got a bunch of likes, by the way, so sometimes the people who agree with you just don't bother to say anything. A lot of people just come to read the articles and not deal with comment drama.

About your comment to the "low information fan", in general I would recommend attacking arguments and not people. Instead of calling him a low information fan, why not just state the necessary information to debunk his statement? That is way more rewarding in the end, trust me.

DraftHobbyist's picture

How many times have you been banned? You seem to be working on another.

Alfredo Martinez's picture

If anything, those guys are simply giving their opinion as to why Flynn beats Tolzien as the back up qb...no need to be rude and insult their intellect, that being said, IMO its a close call; but I say they take Tolzien simply because there's more raw talent to him, whereas Flynn has given us as a team all he's got...to which as a fan I am grateful for. BTW, I'm not related to those guys in any "brotherly" manner lol

Nick Perry's picture

Actually they agree very seldom. I don't post here often but I've noticed you lately with your brash style and insults. Personally I've never understood why people insult one another here, hiding behind a keyboard. Oh, and for the record, Tolzien hasn't "Zoomed" by anyone. I don't care what he did in the preseason against vanilla defenses and 4th string corners that won't be on a week one roster.

DraftHobbyist's picture

"He started [it]!" -Stroh 2014

Evan's picture

Sure - Tolzien was playing against 2nd and 3rd stringers, but he was also playing WITH 2nd and 3rd stringers. So, who knows. Pre-season is a far from perfect system for evaluating players.

He was 26 of 38 for 338 yards - that's basically one game's worth of stats. I don't know what the answer is, but I think we'd all agree that one game's worth of playing time is hardly enough to evaluate a player.

As Brian mentioned, I'd hate to lose a Elliott or Pennel or Rolle to keep a 3rd QB. I trust Ted will make the right call.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I agree with you.

I like Tolzien, and I was impressed with him last year for the most part. I think we would be fine with him if needed.
The biggest thing with Flynn is that we still have the trust factor in him. We know what he has done. We know we can win games with him and in the end that is the most important part.

I do think in the end we only keep 2. Tough decision, but i don't think we can go wrong either way, to be honest.

Also I think Elliott and Pennell are already on the roster.

jmac34's picture

Winning is a team stat and not a qb stat. Did you want to get rid of Rodgers after GB went 6-10 his first year starting?

jmac34's picture

Trent Dilfer and Tim Tebow both had winning seasons. Does that mean they are good qbs? I don't disagree that scoring points matters for a qb, but winning is much more about the team than just the QB. A winning % for a qb is = to a winning % for a pitcher. Absolutely meaningless stat. Say a qb1 throws for 360 yards and 4tds with a qb rating or 100.7 but his team loses 52-49 and qb2 throws for 150 yards and 3 int but wins 6-3. Are you telling me you would rather have qb 2 over qb 1 because qb 2 won?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

No, because he was putting points on the board.

MarkinMadison's picture

In my mind I think Tolzien has passed Flynn, but there is definitely room for disagreement. I don't know which way the Packers will go. I think alot is riding on the season finale against the Cheifs. I want to see Tolzien play with the 1s, especially the OL 1s. If I was running it I would have Tolzein play the first 1.5 quarters, and let Flynn play the rest. It would even out the reps problem, and it would allow us to see if Tolzien can do it against the better competition. The Packers already know what Flynn can do. The problem is that I think it is Flynn's turn to go earlier. So we'll just have to see what happens.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"to see if Tolzien can do it against the better competition."

We have yet to see Tolzien put points on the board consistently against any level of competition in the NFL. For the record I hope he starts soon.

Evan's picture

I feel like when I was a kid and would go to a friend's house and his parents would start fighting. Awkward.

Or, better yet, when your divorced parents whine and bitch about each other without ever referring to the other person by name.

Evan's picture

My sentiments exactly. Literally.

ben's picture

Long-term, future starter, Tolzien edges out Flynn right now with upside.

But Tolzien will be playing for a different team within 6 months. His contract is up and he'll have better opportunity elsewhere. He is as good as gone.

It cannot be overstated how much better Flynn has taken care of the ball than Tolzien. With the overall talent of a team like greenbay, you need as much a QB that won't loose it for you as much a QB that can win it for you. Not that Flynn, who had 1 of the most impressive performances of any QB ever, can't win a game or 2.

Flynn has had his payday and can be locked in on the cheap as Rodger's backup. He doesn't turn it over and takes care of the ball. He's a national champion, a solid person and good leader. He runs the Packers offense very well.

Bradford won't be the last QB to go down this pre-season. Sometime between now and the trade deadline Tolzien will be at his optimal value. The Packers should exhibit Tolzien and his impressive attributes as the #2 QB, maximizing his value. The longer they wait with 3 QB's on the roster the greater chance they loose somebody else of value to another team.

The sooner the better.

ben's picture

2014 53 Man Depth Chart

TRADE: {Hasean Dix, Scott Tolzien, 2015Round3 } 4 { St. Louis's 2015Round1}

TRADE: {Davonte Adams, 2015Round2, 2016Round3 } 4 { Cleveland's 2016Round1}

TRADE: {2016Round5 } 4 { 49er's LaMicheal James }

Extend: Bulaga, Cobb, House, Perry, Richardson

QB: Rodgers, Flynn
RB: Lacey, DuJuan, Starks, LaMicheal James (PR/KR)
FB: Kuhn
WR: Jordy, Cobb, Boykin, Jeff Janis, Gillett, White
TE: Quarless, Blake Annen(FA), Stoneburner, Richard Rogers
OL: Bakhtiari, Sitton, Tretter, Lang, Bulaga, Sharrod, Corey Linsley, Taylor
DL: Daniels, Neal, Datone, (Perry), Boyd, Mike Pennel, Luther Robinson
LB: Peppers, Hawk, Matthews, Perry, (Neal), Jones, Lattimore, Barrington, Jayrone Elliot, Mulumba
CB: Shields, Davon, Heyward, (Hyde), Tramon, Bush, Demetri Goodson
S: Burnett, Richardson, Hyde, Banjo, (Bush)
ST: Crosby, Masthay, Goode

Practice Squad: Khyri Thornton(DE), Adrian Hubbard(LB), Charles Clay(S), Carl Bradford(LB), Ryan White(CB), Jumal Rolle(CB), Garth Gerhart(C), Jeremy Vujnovich(OT), Aaron Adams(OT), John Fullington(OT), [ TBD (QB) ]

PUP: Bostick

IR: Jared Abbrederis, Don Barclay, Colt Lyerla, BJ Raji, Raijon Neal

balding_pastor's picture

Brian is right. Flynn may know the system better but he's proven he's not a viable starter. Tolzeins arm strength and better mobility should earn him the nod.

Imma Fubared's picture

The problem, and I think Flynn needs to go, is they get nada for Flynn if they cut him. If they keep him and Tolzien, maybe down the road they can unload Flynn to a team that is needy for a Qb. I don't think he is worth a nickle in trade bait but you never know what despirate brings.

zeke's picture

My guess is that either of the two will get picked up, as there are a ton of teams in the same situation GB was in last year. Blaine Gabbert looks terrible in SF, and the same for Orlovsky in Detroit. Buffalo and the NYG will be looking, too.

But that's not a valid reason to keep both of them, IMO. Pick one, and then package the other in a trade with all of this year's draft choices for LaMichael James and a future draft-choice-to-be-named-by-a-mythical-team.

Tundraboy's picture

I'm confused. Who is Goldfinger and where is COW

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I don't think they are the same person. Cow has a tendency (accept of late actually) just repeatedly repeatedly argue for a very negative outlook. Rarely have I heard him insult or belittle others. He just disagrees vehemently, and finds it humorous when others insult him.

Anyway, Cow is recently on the record as preferring Flynn to Tolzien. I'm not adding him to my point, just sharing what he said.

I've been posting here with the same name since about 2008.

4thand1's picture

Really?

The TKstinator's picture

I miss Longshanks.

The TKstinator

4thand1's picture

He'll be gone the next day.

4thand1's picture

All this back and forth on back up QB doesn't matter. Rodgers is the one who'll carry this team and if he gets injured and out for the season, its over. Neither Flynn or Tolzien will carry this team in the playoffs. The Packers are built to score, Period.

DraftHobbyist's picture

I agree. Three QB's would be an overreaction and unnecessary. Pick the better of the two QB's, and put one to develop on the PS. I thought Flynn would win the spot early on, but Tolzien has obviously outplayed Flynn. Still, I think if Flynn really plays well in this last game he will win the spot. If he plays average or bad then Tolzien gets the spot. Tolzien has had more opportunities than Flynn so far this preseason.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Well...well...well...

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