5

April

Cory’s Corner: Solidify backup QB job and sign Matt Flynn

Last year proved just how important a backup quarterback is not for just the Packers but for any football team.

Having a bona fide star quarterback is an advantage that coach Mike McCarthy may have gotten a little too comfortable with. He got used to the 50-yard rollout passes on a dime and being able to whistle a fastball into tight windows.

Matt Flynn finished with a 2-2 starting record for the Packers last year. He is an unrestricted free agent after earning a prorated veteran minimum $715,000 by the Packers.

Matt Flynn finished with a 2-2 starting record for the Packers last year. He is an unrestricted free agent after earning a prorated veteran minimum of $715,000 by the Packers.

They say you never really know what you have until it’s gone. Well, that couldn’t have been truer for the Packers last year. With Aaron Rodgers shelved for seven games, the Packers nomadically spun their wheels until Matt Flynn was able to play good enough to fix the leaks and right the ship.

Now I realize Flynn doesn’t exactly strike anything resembling fear into opposing defenses. But he is a six-year NFL veteran and more importantly, he’s a 4½-year vet of the Packers.

Which is exactly why I am surprised that the Packers haven’t signed the unrestricted free agent yet. His 3-4 career starting record may not be anything to brag about but his ability to win over a huddle and lead a team — especially when your No. 1 option goes down — are things you want in a substitute.

Flynn turns 29 this summer and even he must realize that his days of being a starting quarterback are over. After having dreams of leading the Seattle Seahawks, he was upstaged by Russell Wilson. To make matters worse, he was upstaged by Terrelle Pryor in Oakland and the Bills barely kicked the tires before sending him on his way after just 21 days.

The opportunity to become a starting quarterback in the NFL is ever-shrinking, especially with all the dynamic college quarterbacks that are now bursting on to the scene.

The only sticky point could be money. Flynn was paid a pro-rated veteran minimum salary of $715,000 last year for Green Bay. With that money, he salvaged a 16-point deficit against Minnesota, which ended in a tie. And he orchestrated comeback wins vs. Atlanta and the thriller at Dallas.

25

February

Seneca Wallace Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction: Brought in to be the necessary Band-Aid if Aaron Rodgers were to go down, Seneca Wallace proved that his skills are vastly diminished without the benefit of quick, scampering legs. His decision was marginal, arm strength OK. During his first start for the Packers in Week 10, Wallace suffered a season-ending groin injury.

Seneca Wallace

Seneca Wallace

2) Profile:

Seneca Sinclair Wallace

  • Age: 33
  • Born: 8/6/1980 in Sacramento, Calif.
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 205
  • College: Iowa State
  • Rookie Year: 2005
  • NFL Experience: 8

Career stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Moderate. Since he knew that he would only be seeing the field if Aaron Rodgers got hurt, his role wasn’t expected to be that important — especially because Rodgers had only missed two games as a starter coming into this season.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Not too much to go on because he got hurt on his first in his first start of the season. Looked overmatched when he was brought in against the Bears after Aaron Rodgers went down with his season-ending collarbone injury.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Marginal. He basically thew away an excellent 150-yard rushing performance by Eddie Lacy in a 27-20 loss to the Bears at Green Bay because he was sacked four times and threw an interception.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Injured.

Season Report Card:

(C-) Level of expectations met during the season

(D) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  D+

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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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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.

10

November

Eagles vs. Packers: Keys to the Game

Seneca Wallace

Wallace is Green Bay’s biggest key in Sunday’s game against the Eagles

This week’s game is the only the fourth of its kind in the last 21 seasons for the Green Bay Packers.  Someone new will start at quarterback.  Before Seneca Wallace takes the first snap this week, only Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Brett Favre have lined up under center for the Packers’ first offensive snap since 1992.

Many a thought, opinion, suggestion, rant and meltdown have surfaced this week about why Rodgers was hurt and what in the world the Packers can do about it now.  All of that aside, there is a game to be played this week at Lambeau Field and it will count in the standings.

Rodgers is out this week.  You can write that down in ink, as Mike McCarthy sometimes says.  Earlier in the week, practice squad quarterback Scott Tolzien was promoted to the active roster.  The Packers also are reportedly going to bring in Flynn for a workout.  Regardless, Wallace has been practicing all week with the first team and will be the Packers quarterback on Sunday.

For many, this is the first real glimpse of how this team will look each week until (or dare I say “if”) Rodgers comes back.  As John Rehor of PackersTalk.com discussed a few days back, this is new territory for many Packers fans, especially those under age 22.  Rarely has the quarterback position in Green Bay been one of the big question marks heading into a game.

With that, let’s look at that as well as the other keys that will likely surface and determine Sunday’s outcome.

Seneca Wallace & Green Bay’s Offensive Game Plan

You knew this would be the first topic mentioned.  Obviously the Packers would like to get as much out of Wallace as they do out of Rodgers but that isn’t happening.  Wallace isn’t anywhere near the same type of quarterback that Rodgers is.

Still, the Packers can have success without #12 under center on Sunday if they prepare to play within who Wallace is and what he can add to the talent pool that is still healthy enough to play.  Wallace looked shaky on Monday night and understandably so.  Lambeau Field, Monday night football, Chicago Bears, slight division lead and all of a sudden, he’s in to keep the Packers in the game and win it.  Not to mention while everyone around him was trying not to go into full panic mode.  Still, a loss is not well-received by the home crowd.

6

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Bears 27, Packers 20

With the Bears behind them, the Packers will move on without Aaron Rodgers.

With the Bears behind them, the Packers will move on without Aaron Rodgers.

On top of suffering their third loss of the season, which puts the Green Bay Packers in a three-way atop the NFC North, the team lost its unquestioned leader for at least several weeks.

On the game’s first series, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked by Bears defensive end Shea McClellin. The hit wasn’t violent, but Rodgers was slammed hard into the Lambeau Field sod and reportedly suffered a fractured left collarbone.

Of course, many Packers will point the finger at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob McGinn. Last week, McGinn wrote a column suggesting the Packers could win without Rodgers. The article ran Nov. 2–two days prior to Rodgers suffering what he calls a “significant injury.” If you haven’t yet read McGinn’s piece, you should do so.

Now, obviously, losing Rodgers is a tough blow for the Packers. Rodgers probably the best quarterback in the NFL, and Seneca Wallace is a significant downgrade from the 2011 league MVP, but while expectations for the rest of the Packers’ season are different now than they were Monday, the Wallace-led Green Bay Packers aren’t quite the Curtis Painter-led Indianapolis Colts when the Colts were forced to play without injured quarterback Peyton Manning.

In 2006, Manning led the Colts to a 10-6 record. The following year, which Manning missed with a neck injury, the Colts plummeted to 2-14 and “earned” the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. In recent years, losing Rodgers for any amount of time may have been a fatal blow to the Packers’ season.

But now, I’m with McGinn. This Packers team can win without Rodgers.

The team’s newfound offensive balance has been a pleasant addition to the team and will now act as the crutch the team will rely on as they tackle the start of the second half of the season without Rodgers. A hungry Eddie Lacy and healthy James Starks, along with a dramatically improved offensive line have the Rodgers-less Packers offense in a much better place than they’ve been in recent years.

After losing Rodgers to injury Monday, Wallace was clearly not ready game action. This much we know. But with a week of preparation, it’s hard to imagine Wallace turning in anything short of an improved performance Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

8

October

Raiders Release Matt Flynn: The Packers Should Bring Him Back

In a bit of shocking news that shouldn’t surprise anyone (as paradoxical as that sounds), the Oakland Raiders have released Matt Flynn after being demoted to 3rd string after a dismal showing against the Washington Redskins, who Packers fans are quite aware are currently fielding one of the worst defense this year.  The shocking bit is that the Raiders traded for Flynn with the Seahawks this offseason and brought over his $6.5 million guaranteed salary for 2014.  While this might not seem like much for a potential starting quarterback, keep in mind this is the Oakland Raiders, who have been so marred by the salary cap left behind by Al Davis that they literally needed to pinch every penny this year just to stay cap compliant.  So while Flynn’s performance certainly has justified his release, his contract (in context with the Raiders) make him prohibitively expense to let go.

Of course, Matt Flynn is still remembered by Packers fans as the guy with the lumberjack beard who managed to break all sorts of records against the Lions in 2011 and had a pretty good showing against a dominant New England Patriots defense in 2010.  Packers fans will also be quick to point out the disaster of an offseason where Graham Harrell never progressed, BJ Coleman got worse and Vince Young never figured it out.  In the end, the Packers settled on Seneca Wallace, who has experience but is essentially an unknown as he hasn’t appeared on the field.  I’m sure a lot of fans are hoping that the Packers sign back Flynn, bring back some known stability and maybe even resuscitate a career that’s been blown off course.  On the other hand, many fans will be quick to point out that Flynn was unable to beat either Wilson or Pyror despite coming into the season as the starter and in his brief showings with the Seahawks and Raiders looked out of place and unable to lead his team.

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.