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Seneca Wallace: A Primer

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Seneca Wallace: A Primer

Seneca Wallace, your starting quarterback.

For this week, at least.

With the Packers moving Scott Tolzien up from the practice squad on Wednesday, they will enter Sunday’s home match up with the Eagles with Wallace as the starter and Tolzien as the backup.

Tolzien might be more familiar to Wisconsin fans after he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as a Badger in 2010, where as Seneca Wallace – despite being a 10 year veteran, is relatively new to Packer fans.

Wallace faced the Packers once in his career. In the 2005 season finale game, Wallace relieved Matt Hasselback when Seattle chose to rest its starters in the second half.

On New Year’s Day 2006, Wallace completed just over half of his 17 passes for 98 yards and one touchdown and one interception.

95 months after his first throw at Lambeau, Wallace put up relatively similar numbers when he came in for an injured Aaron Rodgers. On Monday night, Wallace completed 11 of his 19 passes for 114 yards. A slightly higher completion percentage and a slightly lower passer rating, Wallace’s performance left many fans wondering who is this quarterback and do the Packers stand a chance with him?

Seneca Wallace is a backup quarterback. In his 10 year career, he has never started a week one game for an NFL team, yet this will be the six year of his career that he will see major playing time coming in to replace an injured starting quarterback.

In 2006, Wallace replaced then injured Hasselbeck in week 7 and started for the Seahawks for the following 4 games. In his four starts, the team went 2 – 2 and when Hasselbeck returned from his knee injury in week 12, the Seahawks won their division, rested their starters in the season finale and made it to the divisional round of the playoffs.

Pretty sure the Packers would take those four games from 2006 and winning the division this year if they could get that from Wallace.

In his 4 starts in 2006, Wallace completed 67 of his 114 passes with a completion percentage of 58.8%. He threw for eight touchdowns and five interceptions. His average passer rating from those games was 87, with a high of 114.6 and a low of 69. In those games he threw for 787 yards for a 196 yard per game average.

In three of these four games, the Seahawks were also without their star running back, Shaun Alexander, and in the four games they only averaged 73 yards on the ground. Seattle’s offense was dependent on Wallace.

That is a far cry from the 148 yards per game that the Packers are averaging now. The Packers offense will provide more help to Wallace than Seattle did in 2006.

But 2006 was also a long time ago. How has Wallace faired since then?

Seattle called on Wallace a lot in 2008 with Hasselbeck missing time with two separate injuries. Wallace started half of the games, weeks 7 through 10 and weeks 14 through 17. 2008 was a rough season for the Seahawks. They finished the season with a 4 – 12 record and third in their division.

Wallace’s stats in his games in 2008, were nearly identical to his from 2006. 138 completions on 236 throws for 1512 total yards and an average completion percentage of 58.5 and an average passer rating of 89.5. The team only won three of the 8 games that Wallace started, but with the 19th ranked rushing offense and a defense that gave up the third most yards per game in the NFL, Wallace wasn’t receiving a lot of help from his team.

A telling stat from 2008 was Wallace’s touchdown to interception ratio. After being rather careless with the ball in 2006 with 2 multiple interception games, Wallace threw 11 touchdowns in 2008 and only 3 interceptions.

In 2009, Hasselbeck cracked his ribs in week 2. Wallace finished the game and started the following two.

Wallace’s completion percentage was slightly higher in 2009 at 66.3, and he was throwing the ball a lot. In his two games, Wallace threw the ball 89 times for 518 yards with an average passer rating of 84.25.

In 2010, Wallace went to Cleveland and was reunited with coach Mike Holmgren. Listed as the backup, Wallace was called into duty in week two after starter Jake Delhomme injured his ankle in the season opener.

Wallace played the following four games before he sustained an injury as well.

In those four starts, Wallace completed 63% of his passes for 693 yards and an average rating of 93. He threw 4 touchdowns and two interceptions. The Browns went 1 – 3 during this stretch.

In 2011, Wallace finished out the season for the Browns in place of Clot McCoy, starting the final three games, all losses. These were Wallace’s roughest games. He completed only 50% of his passes for 183 yards a game, with an average rating of 66.7. In three games he threw 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Prior to last week, Wallace had not thrown a regular season pass since the 2011 season finale.

Throughout his career, Wallace has been relatively consistent. He’s not the star, but he’s not the worst. He’s been the guy you call on when your starter is out a couple games, not the guy to unseat a starter.

He averages about 60% completion rate and tends to play better games when he has a stronger supporting cast. He throws more touchdowns than interceptions but isn’t as mobile and quick as he used to be.

The 2013 Green Bay Packers are not the 2011 Browns and they are not the 2008 Seattle Seahawks. But they are a team that is currently fielding lesser known wide receiver names and has a defense coming off a rough outing against the Bears.

If the Packers stick with Wallace, as they appear to be planning to do, they will need the rest of the team to step up.

James Starks and Eddie Lacy will have to carry the team and keep Wallace in a game manager role. James Jones and Jordy Nelson will have to stay healthy and help Wallace make plays. Wallace’s better games came when throwing to Deion Branch and Nate Burleson as opposed to Brian Robiskie and Jordan Norwood. The Packers defense needs to keep getting healthy and tighten up; its mistake free football time.

Jayme Snowden is a feature writer at CheeseheadTV and a contributor to Today’s TMJ4. She also co-hosts CheeseheadRadio, part of the Packers Talk Radio Network at You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

markinmontana's picture

Do you know what his career batted-ball percentage is (do they even keep track of those)? One thing I was surprised about/didn't remember was his sort of side-arm delivery, one would have thought Holmgren would work to change that.

That said, I think he stands a chance to put up average-to-good performances once he is prepped as the starter.

Nerd's picture

I think they'll roll him out a little more. I can't believe they didn't roll him out on that late game third down play.

I'm not afraid of having Seneca Wallace as our starter. Not for just a month or so.

Nerd's picture

If he can give us a passer rating of over 81 (the Kordell Steward standard for mediocrity), we can win these games.

We can certainly beat the Vikings, but we can have a shot at Philly and Detroit. We have a supporting cast.

PackerPete's picture

I would argue that James Jones and Jordy Nelson are better than Deion Branch and Nate Burleson, and the running game this year is real good. So his supporting cast on offense is probably better than anything he had to work with in the past.
What bothered me a little about him is that he seemed to not be mentally in the game. I usually see backup QBs standing next to OC when the calls are played, and follow the game. The talk with the starter and OC or QB coach between series. I remember a couple of games before the Bears game where that was not the case in phases. Once he stood by ST players and joked with Slocum when the O was on the field, another game he joked with Johnny Jolly. That is just not instilling confidence in me.
But after what POC wrote today, I hope that he will be fine.

Nerd's picture

That's DEFINITELY not his rep.

Dude is known for working hard to help prepare the starter for the week.

Tundraboy's picture

Eery part for me was when I just turned on tv before start and first thing I saw was Wallace on sideline talking to a coach I think, and I thought, as weird as this season has been, with injuries bad news ..... what was going on? Who;s out now. I said out loud . Nooooo please , I want to just watch and enjoy this game , playing the Bears at home , Monday night, its my birthday for %&(&&*I sake and thats not something I want to see!!! Wallace in the game????. At least I got to watch one of the best best running days. Best pair since Brockington and Lane days. Dammmm it

Mojo's picture

If Rodgers were out for 4 games the best I could hope for is a 2 & 2 record. The opponents are just so-so, but I just don't see it happening with Seneca.

Seems like a good guy, but he's too small with a weak arm. He was extremely lucky the pass to JJ wasn't a pick-six. He stared down the receiver and threw a pass with no zip on the ball.

We're going to be missing so much without Rodgers, especially diagnosing the opponents D. Plus you lose out on all the subtle adjustments they make at the line like a nod to the receiver to adjust his route.

Think were going to see things we're not used to seeing like the QB running into the RB's, false starts and people lining up or running the wrong way. Like you see in exhibition games. Most of that won't be on Wallace, it would happen to anyone trying to get acclimated. But when you're struggling to generate drives, there's no margin for error.

If they hope to tread water until Rodgers returns, it will be up to the D to raise their level of play. They've played well earlier this year before giving up garbage time yards and points. They're going to have to do it now for 60 minutes.

Evan's picture

JJ seemed surprised the ball even got to him.

Longshanks's picture


Bibbon Hazel's picture

2 and 2! Ill take it!

bogfan's picture

That's the 'IF?' Rodgers is only out 4 weeks. Brace for the 6 week mark. This team will grind out some tuff wins on the way to a 10-6 mark and a place in the wildcard

Bert's picture

Somehow I get the feeling that Wallace and the team will be OK for a few games. The next 4 are all winnable and if the defense steps it up with Mathews and Perry back we should be OK. My first reaction to all this was total gloom-and-doom also. But this is still a pretty good team even with Seneca at QB. A very good team with Rodgers at QB.

jww56's picture

Oh, I hope so. I can't tell if this is wishful thinking or if they really have a shot w/o Rogers. My initial reaction was "...there goes the season." But if the defense, running game AND coaching step up in a big way....2-2 maybe even 3-1.

Bert's picture

The defense will have to make some plays and get off the field on 3rd down. Something they couldn't do against the Bears. Had the Defense not layed and egg we probably would have beaten the Bears and folks would be a lot more optomistic.

DHoward's picture

Wallace isn't going to churn out 80 yard TD drives. Field position will be key. Defense needs turnovers and 3 and outs. ST's need to win the punting/KR battles. I have some confidence that MM can come up with enough plays (bubble screens, tight end outs, QB draws, quick slants, etc...)combined with a good run game to move the sticks on a short field and score points. But, to win these games these next 3 mediocre opponents can't score much more then 17-21 points. Capers needs to shine and scheme/motivate this defense into something special for 3-4 weeks. Take some risks. Show something new and unexpected. Control the game. Carry the load until #12 comes back.

Marc's picture

Hope Rodgers is not out for too long, I need him to beat a best friend of mine (Boys' fan). In the meanwhile... come on Wallace! Regards from Belgium.

speakingforJM's picture

I hope for the best with Seneca - not too sure that will equal wins though.

Either way we wouldn't be in this position right now if Rodgers didn't hold the ball for WAY too long still - THROW THE GOTDAMN BALL.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Wins? Wins? I think the mere thought that we may have wins with this guy is an abomination.
Optimisn is one thing naivete is quite another.

This guy coudn't win when he was a young stud given the run of a team. He was just cut by two teams this fall, competing for a third string position on those teams.

Bibbon Hazel's picture
Al Katraz's picture

I have news for Seneca: Run, run very fast. Just keep running. The next four teams you face are all going to rush the crap out of you because they know you cannot (ala Rogers) pass your way out of trouble.
Philly will start the game with 8 in the box and then it gets worse. Run, run now.

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