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Ted's Rolling the Dice

Ted's Rolling the Dice




Expectations can bring worries. And folks, I'm worried.







I expect the Packers to do well this season. I expect the offense to be better balanced and more productive. I expect Dom Capers' revamped defense to be a big improvement over last year. And finally, I expect them to challenge for the NFC North Division Title.

So what am I worried about? Well, those of you who are superstitious turn away. If you believe in jinxes or "the evil eye", stop reading. Go ahead and knock on wood, because I'm going to say it:

What if Aaron Rodgers suffers a season-ending injury?

What if the Packers come together in preseason, then beat the Bears, Bengals and Rams (totally conceivable) to get off to a quick 3-0 start. But the unthinkable happens towards the end of the Packers romp over the Rams. Mike McCarthy is slow to get Rodgers out of the game and some 3rd string Ram DE trying to make an impression crashes into Rodgers knee. One torn ACL later, Rodgers' season is over.

Now, is there anyone out there that really believes either Matt Flynn or Brian Brohm can step in and continuing leading the team to a successful season? Any hands...? I didn't think so.

As reported by the Green Bay Press-Gazette, even Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, when asked recently about the progress of his two young quarterbacks, had to think about it for awhile. When he finally did answer, he could muster no better than an unenthusiastic “Well, certainly they’re better than they’ve been". How's that for a ringing endorsement from your own coach?

The man responsible for this bad situation is of course, Packers GM Ted Thompson. Thompson has proven to be a polarizing figure among Packers fans, mostly because of his role in the Brett Favre saga. I find myself straddling the fence. There are things he's done I like, there are things I don't like. This one, I am not on board with. It's a bad idea and a huge gamble, like going to Vegas with one year's salary and putting it all on a roll of the dice at the craps table.

Thompson's out there on an island with this one. I have to wonder, has any other NFL team ever done this? Starting the 2008 season with a first-year starter and two rookies as backup quarterbacks was as dangerous a move I remember coming from an NFL team. Add in the fact that neither of the rookies even remotely looked like NFL quarterbacks during that preseason, and you had to seriously doubt Thompson's sanity.

The only thing that made it palpable to me was that I had few expectations last year. I had serious doubts about the season before it even started, so I wasn't worried about what we would do if disaster struck. This season is different. As previously stated, I have expectations. I am not willing to accept throwing our season away if something happens to Rodgers. And make no mistake, if that particular disaster struck, the Packers season would be OVER. No chance at the Division Title and no playoffs - again.

So why would Ted Thompson choose to roll the dice again? Why did he do it in the first place? The only reason one can assume is financial. Thompson didn't want to in 2008 and still doesn't want to in 2009, spend the money to bring in an experienced backup quarterback. He doesn't believe in spending money on short term solutions. I do respect a lot of the financial decisions he has made. It's not a simple job being in the smallest NFL market, and running the only non-profit, community-owned, major professional sports team in the United States.

Thompson has to look for every opportunity to save money, and this was obviously an area he chose to do so. But what exactly does bringing in an experienced backup quarterback cost you? Looking at various signings around the league this off-season, the going rate seems to be $1,000,000 or less for a 1-year contract. For example, the World Champion Steelers signed Charlie Batch for $895,000, the Giants brought back David Carr for $1,000,000 and the Texans brought in Rex Grossman for $625,000.

While none of these guys will be starting quarterbacks on their own, at least they have enough experience that you could build a workable game plan around them. And is $1,000,000 that much to spend for a one year insurance policy at QB? Not when you're paying Brian Brohm $2,000,000 to be a 3rd string quarterback. Whatever Ted Thompson is thinking, he certainly can't believe the Packers are in good shape if Rodgers goes down, can he?

So here we are in July of 2009. With training camp only a few weeks away, it's still not too late. Of course, this is a move that should have been made already. The most attractive free agent backup quarterbacks have already been snatched up by other teams.

However, there are still two guys out there that could be brought in relatively cheaply as some veteran insurance; two guys that each have 15 years experience and have played 260 NFL games between them; Gus Frerotte and Trent Green. I would take either one over Brian Brohm and/or Matt Flynn. Keep whichever of the kids you like best, but I need some veteran insurance on the Packers. After all, I have expectations...

For more info on Green and Frerotte with regards to the Packers, read this.


You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco's articles on several sports websites: NFL Touchdown, Packers Lounge, Packer Chatters , Jersey Al's Blog and  Bleacher Report.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (53) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Franklin Hillside's picture

If there is one thing McCarthy knows, it's QBs. He can build a gameplan around Flynn or Brohm if the need arises.

Sorry, Al, I wouldn't waste $20 and a stick of gum on any of those guys that you mentioned. They have all had multiple chances and failed. That said, I don't think Thompson is trying to save money by going with Flynn and Brohm, he thinks they're fine and will develop in time.

Jersey Al's picture

Franklin, I understand, but that's all that's left. I would have made a move months ago. And I'm just talking about protecting this year. So if something happens to Rodgers, you would be comfortable handing the ball to one of those guys and expecting a good year from the Packers? I wouldn't.

Frerotte did a decent job for the Vikes. Childress erred when he handed the job back to Jackson. At least Frerotte wouldn't be intimidated by the job, like Brohm and Flynn still are.

Franklin Hillside's picture

I get what you're saying, Al, and I enjoyed the post.

I agree with the overall, that if Rodgers goes down our season is kaput, but I'm not sure the answer is signing a vet. I think, and hence the title, Ted is rolling the dice which is what you have to do in situations like this.

This situation exists all over the league, does Jim Sorgi give Indy a better chance than Flynn or Brohm? Only because he had time to sit there and absorb.

Asshalo's picture

"He can build a gameplan around Flynn or Brohm if the need arises."

Not when you're quarterbacks are constantly missing their reads. Sounds like a lot of running and short passes to me and a lot of eight man in the box formations for the defense.

Franklin Hillside's picture

That's what it would be no matter who is in there.....

You think McCarthy is going to open things up for Gus Ferrotte? Come on.

longtimefan's picture

I agree 100% with this...

I normally give the coaches the benefit of the doubt in the fact they know what it is they want..

But I just can't see them thinking that those 2 q/b are capable

Packnic's picture

eh. as far as im concerned you can't deal in alternate realities like you have in this article. In 1991, we could have written this same article. Who would have thought Favre could have picked right up where Majik left off and then some. I mean you can't run a football team based on fear of injuries. They think Brohm and Flynn can handle back up duties and we have no idea what they are capable of in actual game playing time.
- But regardless, if Aaron Rodgers goes down and we have Trent Green on the bench... our season is still effectively over.

If you really want a competent, game proven, winning backup QB on the roster... sign Michael Vick. Thats really the only feasible way we could carry forward into the playoffs if the unthinkable happened. and even thats a gamble.

Jersey Al's picture

Ah, the first Vick mention. I purposely left him out to see if someone would suggest it. The only question is how much of a PR nightmare would he create and would it be worth it?

Asshalo's picture

The vikings got to the playoffs with two band-aid quarterbacks. The bears and raven got to the superbowl. Sure your hope is diminished a bit but it's not crushed....unless you have brohm and flynn as QBs

"They think Brohm and Flynn can handle back up duties and we have no idea what they are capable of in actual game playing time."
~ They're constantly missing reads against second and third stringers in practice and that's without pads. I shudder to think of what they're capable of in games.

bfoj's picture

Certainly a well-written piece that raises serious and legitimate questions. I think you have exposed a serious achilles heel. However, I'm not certain that any of the re-treads offers anything of real value to the Packers. Should Rodgers go down, I would expect the Packers to immediately sign the best (and most appropriate for them) veteran on the market. It will come from a group of 3-4 possibilities (the Packers will maintain this list and work people out and monitor them throughout) and it probably won't be any worse than those you mention. Brohm or Flynn would hopefully be further along in their development, have another training camp, pre-season and a first off-season under their belts ... take a flyer and spend two weeks coaching up a veteran in the system to step in if the #2 is completely incapable. I think Thompson, learning from Wolf (who used to draft a quarterback EVERY draft as Thompson should do) ... develop behind Rodgers to step in if necessary (hopefully not, but statistically speaking Rodgers will go down for a bit at least) and then once those players are marketable, trade for draft picks (Detmer, Brunell, etc...) and keep the cycle going.

Asshalo's picture

" It will come from a group of 3-4 possibilities (the Packers will maintain this list and work people out and monitor them throughout) and it probably won’t be any worse than those you mention."

Very true, but if we would have signed them about a month ago, they would have went through off-season work-outs and training camp with our team. Then there is familiarity with our system and our roster.

Jersey Al's picture

These are the only two guys left now. There won't be 3-4 to choose from later.

Asshalo's picture

"This one, I am not on board with. It’s a bad idea and a huge gamble, like going to Vegas with one year’s salary and putting it all on a roll of the dice at the craps table."

Couldn't have said it better myself. There were plenty of game managers available this offseason that you could have signed to short term deals. No they weren't matt cassell, but at least they could lead a drive and maybe keep the game in tact for some wins. From what I heard, those two still look pretty pathetic. Maybe they'll be ready in a couple years, but I doubt that's going to happen this year.

If it does happen he should rightly receive a world of criticism. Honestly, he got lucky last year, especially for those that saw matt flynn against tampa.

Jersey Al's picture

The best indicator is the comment from Joe Philbin. If that's the best he can say about them, we are in trouble.

“Certainly they’re better than they’ve been”. Translated, that means “they aren’t sucking quite as badly as they used to”

That was the impetus for me writing this article.

Asshalo's picture

Kevin Seifert, NFC north blogger from ESPN, was pretty brutal on them. He spent over a week in training camp and has been following their progression since last season. He said both were scrambling almost every play. Pre-season should be a little better of an indicator as to how they'de do against a real defense.

MrBacon's picture

Everyday, Everygame is a Gamble in the NFL.

Thats just Ted's own philosphy.

With 2010's Uncapped Season coming up with a possible work shortage, Brohm and Flynn cannot leave the team unless traded, by 2011-2012 if I recall correctly because of rules set in, if the salary cap fell.

Why pay tons of money for a free agent qb, when you have two qbs you can develop, with the same personel for over 4 years, and pay them at a reasonable low price or trade them.

Besides, this is their own teammates, and without pads. Lets wait till preseason begins to really see how these guys do.

Jersey Al's picture

"Tons of money? We're talking half the amount Brohm makes.

MrBacon's picture

True, but then what kind of player can we pick up at that salary?

Robert Greenfield's picture

Hmmm.... That is quite the telling statement from Philbin. I don't disagree about looking at the possibility of vets. Maybe the question is they're still deciding who sucks more to cut/trade - Brohm or Flynn. I do feel better knowing these guys are in their 2nd year with essentially the same personell/system. Nice article.

Jersey Al's picture

So you sign Frerotte and bring 4 QBs to camp. If Brohm continues to be awful, you bite the bullet and say goodbye. But that would be embarrassing for Ted.

Greg C.'s picture

"And is $1,000,000 that much to spend for a one year insurance policy at QB? Not when you’re paying Brian Brohm $2,000,000 to be a 3rd string quarterback."

I think you may have answered your own question right there, Al. It is not just Brohm's terrible performance, but also the large amount of money invested in him (plus a high draft pick) that is at the root of the problem. Paying a million for a second string QB is more, not less, difficult when the third stringer is making two million. For one thing, you have less money to spend at the position, and for another, the new guy might not be real keen about making half the money of the third stringer.

Matt Flynn, for his part, is giving us about what we would expect from a seventh round pick, which is not much. But to give up on a prospect like Brohm at this early stage would be almost unprecedented and could very well come back to bite the Packers in the rear end.

I do share your concern about the backup QB situation. I don't think Brohm looked anywhere near as good as Rodgers looked as a rookie, and Rodgers did not look NFL-ready himself. But I think Thompson is stuck and will have to ride this one out and hope for the best. Sometimes a QB can be better than expected when forced to step up, like Matt Cassell last year, and Thompson has staked a large part of his reputation on the need for something like that to happen if Rodgers goes down. It's not an ideal situation, but that's where the Packers are at right now.

Jersey Al's picture

"Paying a million for a second string QB is more, not less, difficult when the third stringer is making two million"

Not if that third stringer is sent packing. But the Packers doing such a thing is certainly unlikely, as you point out.

retiredgrampa's picture

Obviously, we lucked out last year with Rodgers' injury. Teams like the Bears and Vikes KNOW our QB situation and hope to get Aaron out of the game. My opinion is that TT will watch our two back-ups carefully in training camp. If neither looks to be able to fill in, he will then sign one of the caretaker QBs and hope for the best. Frerotte didn't do badly for the Vikes last year and, IMO, wouldn't hurt us as much as putting in either Brohm or Flynn.

Jersey Al's picture

But you're assuming they would still be available. Remember, there are only those two experienced guys left and 31 other teams that could suffer a QB injury and need help.

Asshalo's picture

Quote: <blockquote cite="comment-4376">

<strong><a href="#comment-4376" rel="nofollow">Franklin Hillside</a></strong>: That’s what it would be no matter who is in there…..You think McCarthy is going to open things up for Gus Ferrotte? Come on.

If you asking me the packers would do better with experience, yet flawed veteran over a two year qb who doesn't even know how to drop back properly, then yes, I would go with the crappy veteran. At least they can manage a game. Flynn and Brohm would flat out give it away.

PackersRS's picture

IMO unless the backup is a capable starting qb in the nfl, we'l be doomed if Rodgers is gone with either the rookies or those bad veterans. All the teams mentioned here were run ladden. We lean heavily on pass to win. When Romo went down in Dallas, so did they, despite having a veteran qb. Same thing for Carolina in 07. And those teams are run first. But not that much. Their passing game is an important part of their offense, and without a quality one, they can't win. Just to illustrate, they would be something like 60-40 on the run. Baltimore and MN would be 70-30. We are 70-30, 65-35 on the pass. And I don't think we have the personnel to do a drastic change favoring the run midway through the season.
My point is, unless we're talking about Garcia, Kitna, Leftwich and such there's no need to bring a veteran qb, because either with the kids or with the guys currently available, if Rodgers goes down, so do we.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Quote: <blockquote cite="comment-4372">

<strong><a href="#comment-4372" rel="nofollow">Asshalo</a></strong>: Sounds like a lot of running and short passes to me and a lot of eight man in the box formations for the defense.

I was responding to that statement. That'll be the gameplan no matter who is brought in.

In any case, bringing a throwaway veteran takes away reps from these two. Who, if you believe the gospel word of sportswriters (something to be taken with a grain of salt), need all the reps they can get.

Asshalo's picture

maybe in the preseason they need all the snaps they can get. When the season is on the line however. I would rather take a game manager.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Okay, can anyone here honestly say they would have been happy had we brought in Rex Grossman or even David Carr?

If yes, then you've made your point and stuck to your guns.....and you're lying.

I don't know why this post intrigues me so much. Well, done, Al.

MrBacon's picture

Because each Happy Meal comes with a Toy. Thats why it intregues you.

But if you want breakfast, you have to come before 10:30.

Jersey Al's picture

Well Franklin, glad I made it interesting for you. I think it intrigues you because deep-down, you know I'm right - LOL. It's just tough to admit that a Gus Frerotte is better than what we have on our bench...

Franklin Hillside's picture

If Gus Frerotte is the answer, I don't want to know the question.

FYI-The Packers don't bring in old, beat-up VIkings, it's the other way around.

I've guess I've bought into the go young, or go home attitude of the Packers. Vonnie Holliday? Kevin Carter? Gus Frerotte? I mock you, and I mock your value systems!

Jersey Al's picture

You can't pin Holliday or Carter on me. Never wanted that. But an experienced QB that was 8-3 with the Vikes, I want him standing next to Mike McCarthy with the clipboard. Brohm and Flynn can duke it out for who stays a Packer. Neither will get very far in the NFL, anyway.

Asshalo's picture

Go young or go home? finally we can agree on something. Funny you should bring up the defensive line. We're short staffed there as well.

Alex Tallitsch's picture

Quote: <blockquote cite="comment-4397">

<strong><a href="#comment-4397" rel="nofollow">Jersey Al</a></strong>: Neither will get very far in the NFL, anyway.



Franklin Hillside's picture

I was mocking them, but I digress, I think we agree to disagree here.

If Rodgers hurt, season done = agree
Need vet QB to solve that = disagree

They are also throwing to third stringers...

Nick Barnett may still be hurt, AJ Hawk may get hurt, should we bring in Derrick Brooks? You could play this game all over the field.

Jersey Al's picture

Quarterback is a special case. Don't try to compare it's importance to a linebacker or any other position.

ct pack's picture

You mentioned, what if Rodgers goes down for the season.What if he only misses few games and you need someone just to carry you over the few games he is out?

Alex Tallitsch's picture

It didn't work well for a half last year, that much I know.

Jersey Al's picture

In our present configuration, it means we lose those games.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Jim McMahon was the answer once.

Jersey Al's picture

Coincidence that is was during our best seasons? Or was it more of Wolf's genius...

Franklin Hillside's picture


Do you remember how bad he was when he came in?

Jersey Al's picture

My memory conveniently fails me there...

Graham's picture

Brohm is going to impress come preseason, I really believe that. The game needs to slow down for him and that will happen in training camp. Brohm is going to be QB 2 and a viable backup for a couple of season. IMO.

Jersey Al's picture

Well, you're seeing something that I'm not seeing. I hope I'm wrong and you're right.

JustJeff's picture

I think the answer is the same this year as it was last year. If Rodgers goes down, the caliber of veteran QBs that are available now, will be available later.

I would take Gus Frerotte or JP Losman over the guys who have already been signed.

As others have mentioned, any teams' starting QB going down would likely be too much for most teams to overcome.

Jersey Al's picture

Losman has gone to the UFL and I don't think Frerotte will be available. He is really the number 1 option right now for any team that suffers a QB injury. He'll be snatched up by somebody.

Asshalo's picture

I thought Frerotte retired due to injuries

Jersey Al's picture

Green has officially "retired", but Frerotte is still out there.

ct pack's picture

Maybe we can get Brett Favre he hasnt signed with anyone yet he'll be glad to backup Rodgers

Jersey Al's picture

You just couldn't resist, could you?

ct pack's picture

I had to scratch that itch,I promise I'm not going their again.Is anyone selling barf bags on November 1st I plan on being sick to my stomach.

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