I want to take a minute this solemn Monday morning and appeal to the rational side of the fans [of the Green Bay Packers].
In more than 300 games, dating back to the fourth game of the 1992 season, the Packers have had three starting quarterbacks.
That’s not a lot, folks. The only other team in that same span to have such few starting quarterbacks? The New England Patriots.
(I should put an asterisk on Matt Flynn, as he has only started two games during that 21-year span …)
The Green Bay Packers enjoyed great success under Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. We were lucky that the transition from Favre to Rodgers was as seamless as it turned out to be. And believe me, according to NFL standards, the transition was FLAWLESS. Some teams search for their franchise quarterback for YEARS, decades even.
Allow me to take you back in time a bit – back to the start of the 2008 season.
After Brett Favre’s quick departure from Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers was not widely accepted by the fans. He was boo’ed during games, fans made signs calling for Favre, people metaphorically shoved #4 jerseys in his face, constantly. That 2008 season was not good. Rodgers was just getting over the “new guy” jitters and was a young guy trying to earn respect from the team and the fans, though the fans made it more difficult than anyone else.
Do you remember that season? No, I think that we have all collectively set 2008 on the outside of our memory banks. After that one year debacle, Rodgers was ready to change the face of this franchise and – quite frankly – the entire league. The fans embraced him and he has since become the hero that Packers Nation was searching for, post Favre.
Let’s fast forward to that Monday night against the Bears, just a couple of weeks ago. I heard a gasp across the nation when Rodgers trotted to the locker room. Why? He’s our leader, he’s our collective hero; where he goes, this team will go. We all knew what a mess our backup QB situation was, we had been talking about it for weeks. Everyone said that he was the one player that Green Bay couldn’t afford to lose. And we were about to find out just how real that statement was.
Since those three starting QBs in more than 20 years, the Packers have sported three starting QBs in just three weeks: Rodgers, Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien.
We have lost three games in a row since Rodgers went down, and fans are in an uproar.
I get it. Losing sucks and we aren’t comfortable with it because we are so blessed to not have experienced much of it in the past two decades. Year-after-year, the Favre-Rodgers duo has kept his contenders, kept us in the hunt. We built a vacation home in the playoffs.
I am right there with all of Packer Nation, mourning today for the third straight week.
But of all the comments, analysis, fan-based opinions that I have been reading since the loss to the Giants yesterday – have irritated me a bit.
Scott Tolzien may be the first real silver lining that the Packers have gained from this entire Rodgers-less experience. You think Seneca Wallace could command the offense like Tolzien has? You think journeyman Matt Flynn deserves the ball after what he has proved to three different franchises in the past 1.5 seasons? The Packers passed on Flynn before Rodgers’ injury, prior to being picked up by the Bills, even with their backup position in turmoil. What does that say about how the front office viewed his potential since leaving Green Bay with a big fat check?
Favre and Rodgers both threw for less yardage in their first career start with the Packers than did Tolzien yesterday. I don’t know if you’ve seen the stats but (24-for-34, 339 yards and 3 interceptions) there is something to be seen here. He missed on 10 throws all day; three were intercepted, a couple were dropped. Those numbers are not bad.
This was his FIRST EVER NFL start. Last week was his FIRST EVER CAREER play time in the NFL. What are we expecting of this guy? That’s just the point. We are expecting greatness because we have been spoiled by it. Open your eyes for a second and see the HUGE silver lining here: Tolzien is the real deal and he is a better, more capable backup than Flynn, Harrel, Coleman, Young, and Wallace combined. He has intangibles, guys.
He has pocket presence, he is fearless. He has speed to make things happen with his legs. He scrambles and finds open receivers. He has a CANNON attached to his arm. I saw him toss a 52-yard pass to Jarrett Boykin that he had to stretch for.
This kid has the athletic ability to make it in this league. He has confidence and I am firmly on his bandwagon, even after two losses under his belt. Let’s let this kid have his growing pains.
Let’s let him make his rookie mistakes right now, as long as he learns from them. Rodgers had this problem, too, it’s difficult being “The Man” when you are thrust into this position young and with little experience.
Give Tolzien this time to learn and grow and I believe that he will develop into a guy that can take the reins and win games if Rodgers is sidelined. Aren’t we needing that? Well, this is as good a time as any to find out what we have in this 26-year-old Wisconsin-bred Packers fan who knows better than most what the Packers and the fans expect from its guy under center.