26

March

Why Haven’t The Packers Resigned Matt Flynn?

Matt Flynn

In case anyone forgot, the 2013 Packers will always be remembered as the “oh shit, Aaron Rodgers got hurt” season.  After Rodgers broke his clavicle against the Bears, it became quite apparent that the Packers front office had been unusually caught with its collective pants off by having no viable backup to keep the team afloat.  This all started in training camp and the preseason as the Packers cut incumbent backup quarterbacks Graham Harrell and BJ Coleman, leaving former 1st round pick and overall bust Vince Young as the presumed backup, only to release him at the 53 man cut deadline.  After all that, the Packers front office signed Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien to actually backup the season.  Obviously the football gods didn’t look favorably to all this as Seneca Wallace got hurt almost immediately into his first start for the Packers and left an unproven and inexperienced Scott Tolzien to start for the Packers against the Giants and part of the Vikings game.  It was only when the Packers got to “plan F” did they get really desperate and call back old buddy Matt Flynn, who took over halfway into the Vikings game, managed to scrape a couple of tight wins against the Falcons and the Cowboys and managed to do just enough to keep the team afloat until Rodgers came back to play the Bears in the season finale with playoff hopes on the line.

This story is something that the Packers can ill afford to repeat; in all honestly the Packers did not get into the playoffs last year, the Bears and Lions were just even less deserving of a playoff berth.  So the question really becomes, why are the Packers repeating 2013 by not resigned Matt Flynn and what reason could they possibly have?

Matt Flynn would not be an expensive backup, after bombing out in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, its pretty apparent that the only team that has any value for Flynn is the Packers, and thus his asking price would be low due to no competition for his services.  There has been no news of Matt Flynn taking any visits with any other teams and no rumors that any other team is even interested.  Furthermore, Flynn missed out on the free agent signing rush, where some backup quarterbacks commanded as much as a $5 million average over 2-3 years.  As such, the best Flynn will likely see is a 1 year veteran minimum, which for a player with 6 years of experience means $730,000.

26

February

Scott Tolzien Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction: Scott Tolzien was waived by the 49ers on Aug. 26 and on Sept. 1 he was signed to the Packers practice squad. Nobody thought he would actually get playing time, let alone make something of it. But that’s exactly what the former Wisconsin Badger, that racked up a 21-5 record at Madison, did.

Scott Tolzien

Scott Tolzien

2) Profile:

Scott Tolzien

  • Age: 26
  • Born: 9/4/1987 in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 208
  • College: Wisconsin
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1

Career stats and notes

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Hardly any. Most people knew how well he could run a team and that he was a winner but they didn’t know how if he had the intangibles to succeed in the NFL.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Getting thrust into a tough spot after backup Seneca Wallace went down with a groin injury on the first drive. Tolzien threw for 280 yards, including an impressive 22-yard touchdown in a 27-13 loss to Philadelphia. The next week, he threw for 339 yards against the Giants but he did it by also throwing three picks. And after struggling the following week to Minnesota, Tolzien was replaced by Matt Flynn midway through the third quarter.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Marginal. He showed that he can make all the throws in the NFL, but he also showed that like many pro quarterbacks, he doesn’t have it all figured out yet. There’s a reason why the Packers kept him on the roster, because they want to see what talent they can unearth from this kid.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: N/A.

Season Report Card:

(C+) Level of expectations met during the season

(B-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  C+

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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23

November

Cory’s Corner: Scott Tolzien is the backup for the future

Scott Tolzien will be making his second career start on Sunday vs. Minnesota.

Scott Tolzien will be making his second career start on Sunday vs. Minnesota.

Scott Tolzien didn’t come to Green Bay with any fanfare.

He wears his uniform thanks to injuries that have stung the Packers’ starting quarterbacks in consecutive weeks — both in the first quarter no less.

Tolzien was even surprised at the turn of events because after he was brought into action vs. Philadelphia he quickly had to take off layers because you need to dress a tad warmer to hold a clipboard as opposed to steering the USS Packers.

Yet for as unassuming as he is, nobody should be surprised that the 26-year-old Tolzien is the Packers future as a backup quarterback. I know, that may sound odd. How can a backup come close to anything resembling a future?

Well, if you’re paying the best quarterback in the NFL until 2019 it makes sense to have a suitable insurance policy, just in case 2013 strikes again.

Even at Lambeau Field many folks were bewildered as to who Tolzien was. Remember, this is the same Tolzien that won 79 percent of his games at Wisconsin, taking the Badgers to the Rose Bowl in 2011.

There’s something else that he did that season. He etched his name in the Big Ten record book with the No. 2 completion percentage at 72.9 percent.

Starting to sound familiar to someone else? OK, I’m not saying that Tolzien is as good as Aaron Rodgers, but what I am saying is that he is an intelligent quarterback that is going to succeed in this league by beating teams with his mind over his body. Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady do that each week.

Now if Mike McCarthy will take the training wheels off Tolzien and let the kid throw, the Packers could be able to win some games instead of just trying not to lose them.

Tolzien sure has been through a lot. As if waiting to hear if your name would be called on draft day isn’t nerve racking enough, Tolzien had to wait until it was all over. That’s when the Chargers claimed him as an undrafted free agent. After the preseason, the 49ers claimed him off waivers.

But after earning a roster spot in 2011 and 2012 he was cut Aug. 26 by San Francisco and seven days later the Packers scooped him up and put him on their practice squad.

21

November

Numbers up for Packers receivers, down for Vikings corners

Packers receiver Jordy Nelson is really good. Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes is alright, but his fellow corners are not.

Packers receiver Jordy Nelson is really good. Vikings rookie Xavier Rhodes is alright, but his fellow corners are not.

Numbers never lie. Except when they do.

Numbers lied when they said that Robert Griffin III had a big day against the Packers. After all, 320 yards and three touchdowns isn’t a bad day at the office, but in reality, Griffin really just benefitted from a garbage-time stat stuffer.

But thanks to new-age stats sites like Pro Football Focus, anyone and everyone can access in-depth stats at the click of a mouse. So if I want to see how good/bad a player does in coverage, it’s pretty easy.

And the numbers say Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson is bad. Awfully bad.

Opposing quarterbacks have completed 56 of 66 targets on Robinson this season. That’s 84.8 percent of their passes–the worst mark in the NFL for a cornerback, along with a league-high 716 receiving yards. Add three touchdowns and no interceptions, and you’ve got yourself a 127.0 cumulative passer rating.

Robinson’s partner in crime, Chris Cook, has allowed 19 completions on 26 targets–again, a staggering 73.1 percent. Cook has been a sieve as far as allowing touchdowns, as he’s been responsible for four scores, despite being thrown at only 26 times. That’s not good for him, but really good for opposing offenses.

Xavier Rhodes, one of the team’s three first-round picks from last April, has shown flashes of why he was a Day 1 pick, although he’s certainly been exposed. The secondary’s lone bright spot will likely see a heavy dose of Jordy Nelson on Sunday, as the Packers will likely move him all around the formation, including the slot which is where he caught both of his touchdowns when the teams met in the MetroDome Oct. 27.

Of 107 cornerbacks that have played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps, the Vikings have three players who rank 83 or lower on the list, according to Pro Football Focus. Here’s a closer look at how they’ve fared so far this season:

83. Xavier Rhodes (60.8% completion, 293 yards, o TD o INT. 79.3 QB rating)

84. Chris Cook (73.0% completion, 241 yards, 4 TD 0 INT. 141.2 QB rating)

101. Josh Robinson (84.8% completion, 716 yards, 3 TD 0 INT. 127.0 QB rating)

19

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Giants 27, Packers 13

Tramon Williams was making tackles near the line of scrimmage and intercepted a pass in the red zone. It was a big day for No. 38.

Tramon Williams was making tackles near the line of scrimmage and intercepted a pass in the red zone. It was a big day for No. 38.

For the first time in three weeks, the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback (Scott Tolzien) played beyond the game’s first series. So, there’s that.

In his first career start, Tolzien was able to move the Packers offense down the field on his way to three scoring drives. But much like Tolzien’s first outing with the team, his day was clouded with turnovers.

Although he completed 70 percent of his passes en route to a 339-yard day against a good Giants defense, Tolzien’s second interception to Jason Pierre-Paul clinched the game for New York, as JPP picked off the pass and raced into the end zone, extending what was a seven-point lead to 14.

And here we are. The Packers are 5-5 on the season and likely need to win five of their last six to make the playoffs.

With the Vikings next on the schedule, the Packers have a good chance at getting back over .500, despite being without Aaron Rodgers for at least another week. But then again, it’ll more than likely be another ugly slugfest in which the winner is decided by a late score.

The value of Rodgers is undeniable. Not only is he really, really good at throwing the football, eluding pressure and making pre-snap reads, but simply having No. 12 under center completely opens things up for the running game. It’s not exactly rocket science, I know. Eddie Lacy is a great back, but defenses are stacking the box in a way I–having grown up watching Rodgers and Brett Favre–have never seen.

On the sideline, Rodgers has to be looking at these defensive fronts, shaking his head and thinking “If only.” Favre is probably sitting on his recliner in his Wranglers and laughing.

Either way, the Tolzien-led Packers are the Tolzien-led Packers. The Rodgers-led Packers can beat any team in the league, in my opinion. But the Tolzien-led Packers cannot.

This week? I believe the Tolzien-led Packers can beat the Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell or Josh Freeman-led Vikings. But we will see.

Game Balls

Tramon Williams

17

November

Packers vs. Giants: Keys to the Game

Scott Tolzien

Tolzien makes his first NFL start on Sunday and is the Packers’ third starting quarterback in as many games

The Green Bay Packers will hit the road after two straight home games and head to New York to face the Giants.  This marks the fourth straight season that the Packers and Giants have met during the regular season.

The Packers are 2-1 in those last three games, but the Giants also scored a playoff win against the Packers following their 15-1 regular season in 2011.

Since that playoff loss, the Packers pass rush woes have been on display and continue to plague the team.  Without quarterback Aaron Rodgers in these past two games, Green Bay has been unable to overcome a lack of pressure on the quarterback.  It has placed added stress on the secondary as they have given up large chunks of yardage and valuable time of possession enroute to two losses.

What are the chances that the pass rush is a key this week?  Let’s dive in and see.

Scott Tolzien’s Maturity in Packers Offense

This was a key last week, too.  I just swapped out Seneca Wallace’s name for Tolzien’s.  Obviously anytime a new quarterback steps in, there are going to be many eyes on his performance.  Also many questions about how he will perform and handle the spotlight.  For Tolzien, there are few bigger stages than in New York City and against a nemesis to the Packers over the past two years.

After Wallace went out during the first series last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tolzien came in and played the rest of the way.  This just days after being promoted from the team’s practice squad.  Tolzien did make a few bad throws and had two interceptions that were costly, but overall, he did not fare too poorly.

One of the reported reasons that the Packers signed Tolzien just prior to their week one game against the San Francisco 49ers is because of his football IQ.  During his weekly radio show with ESPN Milwaukee, Aaron Rodgers described Tolzien as a perfectionist who is always inquiring about the offense.  The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Pete Dougherty also wrote about Tolzien’s good preparation habits.  The hope is that after playing a full game and with another full week of practice with the starters, Tolzien will take at least a small step forward in his play this week against the Giants.

11

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Eagles 27, Packers 13

With Aaron Rodgers injured, the Packers are relying on Scott Tolzien at quarterback.

With Aaron Rodgers injured, the Packers are relying on Scott Tolzien at quarterback.

Scott Tolzien played the majority of the game for the Green Bay Packers at quarterback.

Scott. Tolzien.

To his credit, he was a solid quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers, but he was, in essence, a puppet carrying out Paul Chryst’s game plan, which relied heavily on a dominant power run game. But in his two years as the Badgers’ starter, never did I think Tolzien would be playing in the NFL, much less for a playoff contender like the Packers.

But against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tolzien filled in for an injured Seneca Wallace and played pretty well. Despite being intercepted in the red zone, which took points off the board, Tolzien moved the ball much better than Wallace did last week against the Chicago Bears after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.

For a fan base that’s used to watching Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre under center, the past couple games have been a wakeup call. Last week, Rodgers played one series before getting injured, and this week, the Packers again lost their starting quarterback (Wallace) after the first series.

Since 1992, the Packers have had three quarterbacks start a football game: Favre, Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Next week, with Tolzien slated to get the start, will mark the Packers’ third starting quarterback in three weeks. Crazy.

By no means was the Packers’ loss on Sunday due to Tolzien’s struggles. The blame falls on the defense.

Game Balls

Datone Jones

As bad as the defense was, Jones had (by far) the best game of his young NFL career against the Eagles. Jones was responsible for two sacks on Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, which isn’t bad for a guy who was only on the field for 19 plays. After a debacle like Sunday’s, it’s easy to look past the few positives, but the rookie had a big day.

Jarrett Boykin

With a pair of backup quarterbacks throwing him the football, Boykin tied a career high with eight catches and set a new career best with 112 receiving yards. Quietly, Boykin is having a really nice season as his opportunities have increased. Despite subpar speed, Boykin always seems to be where he’s supposed to be, and he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. That’s a really good thing for a wide receiver.