Backup QB Situation Nothing New for Packers

Packers QBsFor the first time since 2008, the Packers will enter training camp with a different set of faces throwing beside reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers. While not as thrilling as the battle at safety, the situation at backup quarterback is still very relevant. To see why, let’s briefly recap the Aaron Rodgers era in terms of who was sitting behind him on the depth chart.

Four years ago, it was Louisville product Brian Brohm who was viewed as “insurance” behind Rodgers, as No.12 entered his first season as a starter. However, as early as the preseason, it was clear that rookie seventh round pick Matt Flynn was the more serviceable of the two backup quarterbacks. Brohm quickly amounted to nothing and the Packers had no choice but to trust the inexperienced Flynn as their only option after Rodgers.

Flynn wasn’t a life saver right from the get-go; he couldn’t do much in the Packers’ Week 4 game against Tampa Bay, which they went on to lose. This had fans nervous about the chance of losing Rodgers for an extended period of time. Amongst the skeptical was me, who pushed for the Packers to sign a veteran quarterback heading into the 2010 season.

It only took one Sunday night performance in 2010 to make Matt Flynn the highest regarded backup QB in the NFL. He solidified that label in the 2011 season finale against Detroit, throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns in wintery conditions. From this experience, I’ve adopted a different mentality regarding backup quarterbacks in Green Bay – at least in Mike McCarthy’s system.

Some might point to Flynn’s fundamentally strong management skills as a driver of success. However, the reality is this: the top-notch Packers coaching staff and the talent surrounding the quarterback position on the Packers’ offense can make a number of average quarterbacks look good in their system. The next prospect is Graham Harrell, who has had the chance to develop behind the scenes for two years.

This conversation doesn’t need to be about Flynn vs. Harrell. Like 2008, I believe the Packers will keep three quarterbacks on the roster, partially for insurance and partially for development. If Harrell’s development thus far doesn’t materialize on game day, the Packers can tap seventh round pick B.J. Coleman, who should have roughly the same draft-defined ability as Flynn in 2008.

How can the Harrell/Coleman combo be any scarier than the dual-rookie combo of Brohm/Flynn? Some experts have made their doubts clear. Several point to Browns QB Colt McCoy as a target for Thompson and the Packers this offseason. While the prospect of McCarthy working with McCoy is intriguing, it doesn’t make much sense to pay up for that opportunity when the Packers could have the answers right in front of them.

I’m not promising that Graham Harrell is as capable as Matt Flynn. Harrell went undrafted out of college and poses major concerns on arm strength. However, it looks as though Ted Thompson is confident enough in his two youngsters to put a season without Rodgers on the line. The Packers’ take-them-as-they-come approach to obstacles has worked in the past and should continue to work in the future.


Comments

Backup QB Situation Nothing New for Packers — 3 Comments

  1. I’ll simply copy here what I posted at lombardi.com as to the Harrell situation that many feel anxious about…

    MM instills in himself a very good bullcrap detector when it comes to Qb talent and has shown how to scrape it off his shoes easily.The talk or rumor of obtaining a veteran back-up would have already taken place if MM after two years felt Harrell was something on his shoe that needed scraping.

    McCoys’ name was raised as a possible via the hoaxed trade talk of James Jones which IMO was as bogus as McNabb self inducting himself into the HOF.

    Harrell has many lacking confidence in him due to his UDFA status when signed.However,a good teacher doesn’t want an over filled classroom and a great tutor will not waste time period on anyone not showing true ability worthy of his knowledge.MM felt this with Flynn and IMO has shown an equal faith and belief in Harrell.

    I can only say this to the non believers…it may take awhile before Harrell gets on the field which will be great in the proper context and until that event occurs for whatever reason,hopefully due to a high scoring kick ass game,rest assured that Harrell will prevail and win the hearts of those who assumed the same of Flynn.

    MM will not put a self inflicted blotch on his QB school by allowing a discarded,used up veteran QB to play ahead of his student,nor will he obtain now a QB that could have been drafted for that very reason two years ago or this past draft better still.

    Get on board the Harrell wagon and show the support for him and moreso in MMs’ school of QBs.

    • Very interesting Taryn – it’s an intriguing topic seeing as it’s so difficult to gauge players that don’t see the field after the preseason.

  2. I think I’d agree with your expectation that the Packers would keep three quarterbacks if not for one thing… we’re trying to find places for extra wide receivers. I wonder if that third QB will be placed on the practice squad to make room for an additional WR.

    If TT and MM do place one of the three QBs on the practice squad, they’ll still have the potential to continue learning and developing in the Packers’ QB university.

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