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Backup Quarterback Reps in the Preseason Will Be Vital for the Packers

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Backup Quarterback Reps in the Preseason Will Be Vital for the Packers

After watching the 2017 Packers season slowly whirlpool down the drain after the collarbone injury to Aaron Rodgers, General Manager Brian Gutekunst brought in new faces to training camp this summer in hopes of creating a stiff competition for the backup quarterback position.  After almost two weeks of training camp, it does not appear that a leader is emerging for that battle.

For many years, Packers fans were spoiled rotten with Brett Favre leading the team each week but a true Iron Man like Favre is an anomaly in today’s NFL.  While he can’t be marked with the label of injury prone, Aaron Rodgers’ career has shown that he is susceptible to injuries in a brutal game and the Packers need to be better prepared in 2018 should the need arise for a backup quarterback to take the reins of the offense.

With a quick look around the NFL, the reality is that many teams struggle to find their number one guy at the quarterback position that can help win games.  In turn, this makes finding a backup that can be relied upon even more difficult.  But the backup quarterback shouldn’t be expected to hit the field in relief and pick up where their predecessor left off for a long stretch of games.  That expectation is too unrealistic.  Backups need to be serviceable during their time under center and give their team a chance to win.  Last year, Brett Hundley just didn’t put the team in position to win some games that they should have when he was under center.

Through almost two full weeks of training camp heading into this season, word out of camp is that none of the backup quarterbacks have taken the bull by the horns and emerged as the leader in the clubhouse for the position.  Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer came into camp with some starting NFL experience under their belt, albeit with not the greatest stats to show for themselves.  Following the draft this year, the Packers also added undrafted free agent Tim Boyle to the mix who joins the team with a big arm and more of a pocket style passing game. 

At this point in time with no true leader emerging as the best candidate for the job, the Packers coaching staff needs to be creative in their usage during the preseason games in the coming weeks.  With a new offensive playbook, new offensive coordinator and new skill players to gel with, it is unsure as to how much playing time Aaron Rodgers will receive in the exhibition games in August.  If history is any indication, his time will be very limited and give ample opportunity to the three men battling to make the roster behind him.

Where the coaching staff can be creative is allowing all three of the quarterbacks to spend time with the first team offense and against top-flight defenders on the opposite side of the field.  With four games to work through this rotation, there will be plenty of time for Hundley, Kizer and Boyle to work against the top units and the fourth quarter reserves through the preseason.  Without reading too much into the rotations that progressed during the Family Night practice, Boyle getting the first chance at reps with the top unit may be an indication that the coaching staff will lean this way through the preseason.

A rotation like this could be vital if the coaching staff and GM want the best man for the job to surface.  A fair assessment can’t be made if, for example, Kizer is getting all of his snaps with the first string offense and first reserves against better defenders when Boyle is seeing his action at the end of each game.  I’d love the chance to see all three of the players get work early in games this preseason along with the end of the games to get an accurate evaluation of their game heading into the 2018 season.

How the final 53-man roster shakes out at the quarterback position could potentially allow us to gain more insight to how Brian Gutekunst will reign as the new Packers General Manager.  With many variables to potentially be in play depending on how the quarterbacks perform in the coming weeks, tough decisions could loom.  A scenario where all three quarterbacks perform well would be great, but also a nightmare as far as decisions go.  As the incumbent, Hundley certainly left a bad taste in fans mouths after last season but a stellar performance during the preseason could win him the job.  Kizer coming in via a trade could also give Gutekunst some bias come final selections for the roster if both perform equally.  Last, Boyle performing well could create another Taysom Hill type of situation should the team hope to let him slide through waivers and back onto the practice squad.

The opposites of that scenario are either none of the three playing well or just having one or two play extremely well during the preseason and having the other(s) falter.  This would obviously make life a lot easier on Gutekunst, but I’m hopeful that the competition will bring the absolute best out of all three of the young quarterbacks to make for some tough decisions come September 1st.

Any way you look at it, the backup quarterback battle is a very important one for the 2018 Green Bay Packers.  While always remaining hopeful that the need for their services never surfaces during a season, the Packers staff needs to ensure that the best man for the job is chosen should they be needed for a two, three or four-game stretch during the season.  If the coaching staff puts them in the right position to duke it out during the preseason, the best candidate should emerge from the diverse candidate pool that has been assembled by Gutekunst. 


Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (15) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

White _tornado's picture

I am not one of the guys that are singing the praises of Taysom Hill. I will however say that he did play very well last year. Qb is by far the most important position on the team. Hoping to get a interesting prospect like Hill through to the practice squad last year was foolish.

Thanks again Ted

cheesehead1's picture

Agree White-tornado. Big mistake not keeping Hill. Wish the best for Hundley but have no faith in him. He just looked lost at times last year when Aaron went down.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

IIRC, MM only mentioned Kizer and BH when discussing which QB would get first reps. Not that I think it matters too much. I agree that all three QBs should get reps against the opponents number ones. I doubt it matter a lot though. There are things we can watch, but our opponents are going to play vanilla defenses, which limits the ability to evaluate.

Handsback's picture

I know it sounds crazy, but looking to see if Boyle can turn it on and become a back-up QB to Rodgers.

dobber's picture

If the Packers keep 3 QBs, my hope is that Boyle is the third one. As I read more about him, there are some things that remind me of BJ Coleman, but there's a chance for development here that no longer really exists with Hundley.

Johnblood27's picture

The question is will the GBP keep 2 or 3 QB on the 53.

Kizer is not going anywhere no matter how well BH plays. He has a 1st round value from the trade and that doesnt get cut after one training camp.

IMO the battle is between BH and Boyle for spot #3 and then in the background, will it be a spot on the 53 or the practice squad?

DK might not be the backup we would like to see in terms of being ready to win games, but obviously neither is BH or the rook.

Other factors will drive the decision simply because the answer to the winning games question is already answered at the current stage of BH/DK/TB careers right now.

porupack's picture

Rodgers, Injury proned? Faulty narrative just keeps getting fed by faulty evidence.

Rodgers doesn't have collarbones that are more proned to injury than other 62 QB starting collarbones out there. Anyone's collarbone is going to break on impact to the ground if the impact is lateral to the shoulder. Most sports teach how to fall, but an unexpected hit by a 300lb DT is just going to create a high probablity that a QB can't control his landing (and late hits are one of those unexpected hits, when Rodgers was watching the completion already).

Being proned, is saying he is the reason for his own injuries. If the argument is he holds the ball too long, then maybe, but show the evidence then if that is the line; but be sure to distinguish whether he is having to dump it because the pass rushers have penetrated the Oline at, or below average times. Can't fault a QB if he constantly has to get rid of the ball below average times, because Oline or receivers aren't getting him the opps (especially considering he is praised for his high accuracy and tight windows even more so than Brady). This excludes the culpability of course, on the QB scramble/draw and that concussion a while back.

For now, I'll give benefit of the doubt to the league's best QB, and say its the Oline/RB protection schemes that are responsible for QB injury.

Otherwise, your main point about the priority for back up reps to find a clear #2 are red-on. Good article. Just have a pet peeve one some of these narratives that grow out of proportion.

Samson's picture

AR is 34, not 24. --- Historically, all NFL players are more injury prone as they age.

Since '61's picture

To me it is a matter of who presents the most upside as a backup QB when the preseason is over. Hundley had his chance to show us everything he could do for 10 games last season. I, for one, do not believe that he has much more upside if any left.

Kizer may need time to acclimate to a new offense and the skill players that come with it but he may have much more upside than Hundley.

Boyle is a UDFA for a reason, but he could show enough to make the squad as the #3 QB.

I have always maintained that preseason performances are meaningless and Hundley proved that point last season. However, we can get a look at a players footwork and technique during preseason play. Also, we can get some idea of their decision making as a QB. I'm concerned that Hundely will be kept because of his experience with the offense. I hope not but we'll see. Thanks, Since '61

hawk1982's picture

I was at the family night and from watching the QB's play, Boyle & Hundley made some good and bad throws. Kizer was just not very good. The one thing that stood out to me was that Boyle walked up to the receivers who either dropped the pass or ran the wrong route after the play and was from what I could tell explaining to them what they had done incorrectly or gave them some encouragement . He was the only backup QB that I had seen do that!

Mibster's picture

Why not get Kaepernick as a second or third string QB? Guess he'll be quite cheap (or not) ;)

Edit: This was intended as a joke and seriously I would trade and get Taysom Hill back. I liked to see that young man play and think that would work fine i GB.

dfarmer's picture

rather with 10

Ferrari Driver's picture

If we could trade Hundley to the Saints and get Hill back, I would take it in a second.

Chuck Farley's picture

My two cents. Boyle is p squad no matter how good he looks
mm would never slate an unknown to replace Rodgers in case of injury due to job security Ditto kiser. chancing it.
If I'm correct hundley gets the most work in pre season, then kiser then Boyle the scrub duties.
Hundley knows the playbook and mm likes guys who need the least coaching. He will be the backup

Samson's picture

Sorry, but, the Pack will go into season 2018 without a genuine BU QB who can actually win a few games after AR gets hurt.

Believe me, AR with a suspect OL & suspect WRs, -- will miss a few games in 2018. --- Gute needed to be bold & sign a proven veteran BU QB. --- He didn't.

Could very well cost the Pack a playoff spot.

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