4

September

Does Ben McAdoo deserve blame for Packers’ backup QB blunder?

Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was appointed to his role in 2012, despite having no prior experience at the position.

Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was appointed to his role in 2012, despite having no prior experience at the position.

When the Miami Dolphins hired former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to be their head coach in 2012, Tom Clements was promoted to offensive coordinator, leaving the team’s quarterbacks coach position vacant.

Ben McAdoo, who served under head coach Mike McCarthy in each of his previous two tenures with New Orleans and San Francisco, had experience coaching various offensive positions at the professional level. But prior to changing roles in 2012, McAdoo had no experience, at any level, working directly with the quarterback position.

Shortly after Philbin’s departure, Aaron Rodgers, who has given Clements a great deal of credit for his ascension to the NFL elite, was asked by Jason Wilde about how their relationship would change if Clements were, in fact, no longer his position coach.

“I don’t see our relationship changing a whole lot. I think if he were to get the coordinator job, he’d still want to spend some time with the quarterbacks,” Rodgers said. “I would guess they would look for someone to be the quarterbacks coach. I know when Tom originally got hired, that one of the names that Mike was interested in was Billy Joe Tolliver.”

Tolliver, whose playing career ended in 2001 after being beaten out by Doug Pederson in a competition to be Brett Favre’s backup, has never coached at the NFL level. However, Rodgers’ assumption that the team would look to a former quarterback to fill Clements’ role as the position coach suggests that he’d prefer to have a coach who has played the position.

Clements quarterbacked Notre Dame to a National Championship in 1973, finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1974 and played professionally for more than a decade, bouncing between the CFL and NFL. But with a quarterback-savvy head coach in McCarthy, along with an offensive coordinator (Clements) who had served as the team’s quarterbacks coach for seven seasons, the Packers opted to promote McAdoo to quarterbacks coach.

Prior to the move, McAdoo had spent the previous six years in Green Bay as the team’s tight ends coach.

The Packers are no strangers to making curious promotions on their coaching staff; wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett played running back in the NFL for eight seasons, running backs coach Alex Van Pelt played 11 seasons as an NFL quarterback, and tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot also coached tight ends in Green Bay despite a 16-year playing career at center.

2

September

The Packers’ Backup Quarterback Derby Must Stop

B.J. Coleman and Vince Young were sent packing in favor of Seneca Wallace.

If the Green Bay Packers had their way, no one else but Aaron Rodgers would take a snap at quarterback during the regular season except in mop up duty during a blowout victory.

That said, they need some kind of a Plan B behind the 2011 NFL MVP in case of a doomsday scenario in which Rodgers is out for multiple games (or perhaps even the duration of the season).  For the first few years Rodgers was the starter, they had a solid plan. Matt Flynn sat at the ready and Graham Harrell was on the practice squad learning the ropes. All was well.

Then came the 2011 regular season finale. The Packers were 14-1 and had home field advantage for the playoffs sewn up. There was no reason to risk an injury to Rodgers in a meaningless game, so Flynn got his second career NFL start.  What followed was a record setting performance by Flynn who finished with 480 passing yards and six touchdowns.

Flynn was scheduled to be a free agent after the season and with that performance plus his 2010 game against the Patriots, Flynn seemed destined for a starting job and could have his pick of any team that wanted him.

Flynn joined the Seahawks and then Russell Wilson came along. The rest is history.

The Packers, meanwhile, went through 2012 with Harrell as Rodgers’ backup after he was promoted off the practice squad in Flynn’s absence.  Harrell left much to be desired in the 2012 preseason and was likely headed towards being cut had he not performed well in the preseason finale.  So Harrell it was in 2012.

During last season’s regular season game against the New Orleans Saints, Rodgers got poked in the eye and Harrell came in for one play. He tripped and fumbled the ball one yard from a touchdown.

Not exactly the kind of performance that inspires confidence.

Coming into 2013, Harrell was expected to face competition from 2012 practice squad quarterback B.J.  Coleman.  When neither showed much in the preseason, the Packers brought in former Titans star Vince Young to compete.

Now all three are no longer Packers.

2

September

Packers News: Packers Release Coleman, Sign Seneca Wallace

Seneca Wallace is the new backup to Aaron Rodgers…for now.

The game of musical chairs behind Aaron Rodgers continues for the Green Bay Packers.

After the Packers released Vince Young over the weekend, B.J. Coleman became the default backup to Rodgers.  The Packers did sign another quarterback in former Wisconsin Badger Scott Tolzien but he has since been placed on the practice squad.

Now Green Bay has reportedly cut Coleman, according to Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press- Gazette.   Fans have been clamoring for former backup Matt Flynn to return to Green Bay, but reports are coming in from Ed Werder of ESPN that Seneca Wallace will be the new backup to Aaron Rodgers. Wallace, like the also recently signed Scott Tolzien, was released by the San Francisco 49ers.

With now two former 49ers quarterbacks on the team, it’s clear GM Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy are going all-in for an opening day win against the 49ers.  Wallace, however, might have additional incentive for wanting beat the 49ers after he ripped coach Jim Harbaugh for telling reporters Wallace had retired from the NFL when he really had not. According to Wallace, he had simply asked for and was granted his release after the quarterback realized he was only brought in to force backup Colt McCoy to take a paycut.

So the backup quarterback derby for the Packers continues. Green Bay had better hope Rodgers stays healthy or this game of quarterback roulette could really come back to haunt them.  It will be interesting to see if Wallace and Tolzien remain with Green Bay after Week 1 or if this is just an intelligence gathering effort on the part of the Packers.

Wallace faces an incredibly tight window to learn the Packers’ playbook. He is a bigger quarterback who is mobile and has played in many NFL games and holds a 6-15 record as a starter according to Pro Football Reference.  It’s not a great record, but it’s better than Coleman or Harrell and Wallace already has some familiarity with the West Coast Offense.

This is also a highly unusual move for Thompson. Is he scrambling? Does he now regret the release of Young?

Time will tell, but both he and McCarthy better pray hard Rodgers stays healthy or this could get really ugly.

 

19

August

Revisiting My 10 Top Training Camp Topics for the Packers

Eddie Lacy may not get the first carry of the season, but he's the "starter" in my eyes.

Eddie Lacy may not get the first carry of the season, but he’s the “starter” in my eyes.

About three weeks into camp and halfway through the NFL preseason, many of the Packers’ key question marks are starting to take shape.

Some of such unknowns have since seen new faces (Vince Young) enter the conversation, while other questions (Jermichael Finley) are still completely up in the air.

Prior to training camp, we put ten Packers training-camp topics under the microscope for further review. Now two games into the preseason, it’s time to revisit some of these questions and predictions.

1. Who will be the Packers’ opening-day starter at running back?

Answer: Eddie Lacy, and I feel the same. Kinda.

The Packers clearly didn’t want to (literally) hand the job to a rookie running back without some competition; the team routinely gave veterans Alex Green and James Starks run with the No. 1 offense early in the offseason.

But after the “fat” Eddie Lacy thing blew over, the rookie quickly separated himself from the pack at the position. Coach McCarthy has been effusive in his praise of DuJuan Harris, who returned to practice this week, but if “Fat” is healthy, he’s going to get at least a share of the workload.

Fat was exceptional in his preseason debut against the St. Louis Rams, racking up 51 total yards on nine touches. He broke tackle after tackle, picked up the blitz and caught the ball out of the backfield. It was certainly an impressive showing for the rookie.

But if Harris and Lacy are both available on opening day, I really think both players will get a share of the load. Harris played well against the 49ers in the playoffs, but the Packers abandoned the running game in the second half.

So, in this case, the “starter” label may be a bit subjective. It could be a “starter and closer” or “thunder and lightning”-kinda situation.

2. How many defensive linemen will the Packers keep?

Answer: Six. Now, I think they’ll keep seven, including Mike Neal.

I was cautiously optimistic and mildly skeptical about the Neal-at-outside linebacker thing, but it looks like it’s working so far. Injured second-year defensive end Jerel Worthy told me and Cheesehead TV’s Zach Kruse to “look out” for Neal in his new role, and halfway through the preseason, he certainly looks like one of the team’s best pass rushers.

17

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #8 — Backup QB Competition?

Graham Harrell has played in Green Bay's system longer than B.J. Coleman. But will Coleman's physical tools win him the backup quarterback job?

Graham Harrell has played in Green Bay’s system longer than B.J. Coleman. But will Coleman’s physical tools win him the backup quarterback job?

Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. And as long as he’s under center in Green Bay, the Packers will be in good shape at football’s most important position.

But behind Rodgers, incumbent Graham Harrell and 2011 seventh-round pick B.J. Coleman leave the team with a training-camp battle between a pair of unknowns.

Harrell has been in the system longer than Coleman, but the duo has combined to attempt just four regular-season passes.

Between garbage time and briefly filling in for a shaken-up Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback Graham Harrell played all of 32 snaps in 2012. But everyone remembers one of those 32 plays in particular.

On the first play after Rodgers was poked in the eye by Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, the Packers faced a first-and-goal on the Saints’ two yard-line. Harrell came in for one play–a handoff to Cedric Benson.

But in the process of handing the ball off, Harrell tripped on Jeff Saturday’s foot and fumbled. The Saints recovered, making an already close game even more nerve-racking for Packers fans.

But despite the generally low perception of Harrell, there’s been some good Graham the past two preseasons.

Last summer in the preseason finale against Kansas City, Harrell posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He completed 13 of 15 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over.

In Week 2 of the 2011 preseason, Harrell completed seven of nine passes for 81 yards and a touchdown–good for a 141.2 passer rating.

After losing Matt Flynn as an unrestricted free agent last summer, the Packers backup quarterback position has been a question mark. They still had Harrell but decided to spend a seventh-round pick on B.J. Coleman in hopes of adding some competition at the position.

Coleman was never a serious threat to Harrell for the backup spot a year ago, but this summer will be different.

Question: Will Graham Harrell back up Aaron Rodgers, or will B.J. Coleman?

Physically, Coleman (6-3 231) has the edge, but another year within the Packers system may be exactly what Harrell needed to be a solid NFL backup.

15

January

Packers News: Team keeps eight practice squad players

Packers OT Andrew Datko

Packers OT Andrew Datko

The Green Bay Packers have signed eight practice squad players to future contracts, according to the team’s official website.

Tight end Brandon Bostick, quarterback B.J. Coleman, tackle Andrew Datko, center Garth Gerhart, guard Joe Gibbs, linebacker Micah Johnson, cornerback James Nixon and safety Chaz Powell have all been signed by the team. This according to Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Bostick was a pleasant surprise in training camp and remained on the Packers’ practice squad for the entire season. With the uncertainty surrounding Jermichael Finley’s future in Green Bay, Bostick could potentially challenge for a roster spot next season.

Coleman was selected by the Packers in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He showed impressive arm strength in training camp but was never activated on game day. He continues to be a backup quarterback-in-training for the Packers.

Datko was a seventh-round pick of the Packers last season. He was inconsistent throughout training camp and never found the field this season. With Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod returning next season, the Packers will be in much better shape at the tackle position.

Gerhart, an undrafted rookie free agent from Arizona State, and Gibbs, a first-year player out of Tennessee-Martin were both recent adds to the practice squad.

Johnson was added to the practice squad Dec. 31 after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Johnson spent time with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals before arriving in Green Bay. He was first-team All-Southeastern Conference as a junior at Kentucky.

Nixon has been a member of the practice squad since Sept. 20. Before transferring to California (Pa.), Nixon spent his first three collegiate seasons at Temple, where he played on both sides of the ball and returned kickoffs. His best chance to crack the roster would be as a return man. Nixon averaged 25.8 yards per kick return in college.

Powell, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, was signed to the practice squad Dec. 5. Much like Nixon, Powell played cornerback, wide receiver and returned kickoffs in college.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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3

September

Green Bay Packers Fill Out Practice Squad

OL Chris Scott

OL Chris Scott becomes the Packers eighth practice squad member.

According to Packers.com, the Green Bay Packers have finalized their 8-man practice squad. Along with the reported signings of their seven training camp players, the Packers have added OL Chris Scott. He was a fifth round draft pick in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, though he started out on their practice squad. In 2011, he began the season on the PUP list, after which he was added to the active roster. He only appeared in two games, however. The Packers list Scott as a guard/tackle.

It’s not surprising that Ted Thompson has added another offensive lineman to the list, considering he kept a record-low (for him) seven players on the 53-man roster. This brings the total of offensive linemen on the practice squad to three.

Here is a list of the eight practice squad members to begin the Green Bay Packers 2012 season:

  • WR Diondre Borel
  • TE Brandon Bostick
  • QB B.J. Coleman
  • T Andrew Datko
  • DE Lawrence Guy
  • G/T Chris Scott
  • RB Marc Tyler
  • G Greg Van Roten
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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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