Packers fans need to let Scott Tolzien learn and gain experience. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Packers need to stick with Scott Tolzien


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.

THREE.

That’s not a lot, folks. The only other team in that same span to have such few starting quarterbacks? The New England Patriots.

We have grown accustomed to the faces of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn.

(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.

Seneca Wallace was not the answer for the Packers. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Seneca Wallace was not the answer for the Packers.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

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.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph

It won’t be long and this guy will be back.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports photograph

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.

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Tags: Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers Scott Tolzien

  • theacerbic1

    Thank you for being a voice of reason in what has become a not so winsome fan base, Keep up the great writing.

  • Floyd McFloyd

    Scott Tolzien might be the best they have but he’s not good. For a 16 game season he’s on pace for 8 TDs and 40 INTs. And 13 points per game isnt going to get it done.

    • Jamie

      I agree that the numbers aren’t staggering right now. He is having trouble in the redzone, but Rodgers and co. was being criticized for their inaptitude in the redzone thus far this season too. I am not a big fan of “on pace for” because football is such a week-to-week game. But I can see improvement in Tolzien that is just simply encouraging. He has to cut out the ill-advised throws, but that comes with time. I think he will make better decisions in the future, but he’s just a guy that wants to bring home a W for his team and a fanbase that he, himself, is a part of. He’ll get it done. If the coaching staff provides him the support this upcoming week, I see this game being a turning point for him.

  • Cheryl Rodgers

    you hit it right on the head… one thing, he is better than Wallace.. and what a arm!! give him time.. it’s not always gonna look pretty

  • Peter Maiz

    Tolzien was great at college and you’re right about growing pains. I now know he is accurate at distance. Can he not throw interceptions, though? Could this be out of exasperation or being too green behind the ears? Nick Foles is almost a rookie and doesn’t have the interception bug. If Tolzien doesn’t have interceptions, I’ll give him a giant green light. On the side, I expect Rogers to play by thanksgiving. Let’s prey Rodgers doesn’t get hurt for the rest of his career and that the front line is healthy enough to protect him.

  • Dion Ferguson

    A lot of great writing but to say that tolzien is better than all the backups combined is an overstatement. In matt flynns first start against the patriots with the team he put up 27 points the next game he played the lions and still had a good game. now lets fast foward to the lions game he played and set the franchise passing yards record of 480 yards which rodgers finally tied… Matt Flynn is a good player. Better than wallace, young, harrel and Tolzien uh yeah. He gets flustered easy but regains his sense fast. But still rushes passes to much 5 ints in 2 games Flynn did not do that. When Tolzien sets the new franchise record for passing yards then that will change.

    • Jamie

      I feel that Matt Flynn has value, but is a bit overrated based on that game against the Lions in week 17 of 2011. I am not a huge fan of stats telling the whole story, but for arguments sake:
      In the Detroit game he took over for Aaron Rodgers, following a concussion, we lost 10-7. He completed only 56% of his passes, for 177 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He was thrown into the fire, so a full week of practice was much needed. The following week against the Patriots, he was much better prepared. He completed 64% of his passes for 251 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Yes, he limited the big mistakes. But, he had also been with the Packers as the backup to Rodgers for three full seasons.
      When Tolzien was forced into action after Wallace went down with a groin injury, he had been with the team for barely three months. No NFL playing time to speak of. He was fearless. He completed 62% of his passes for 280 yards off the bench. He tossed two picks, yes … but also a touchdown. In his first NFL start the next week, he completed 71% of his passes, hitting on all 5 of his downfield throws of 20+ 30+ 40+ and even a 50+ yarder. He slung the ball around with ease. He looked good in the pocket. He threw for 339 yards! He has a big arm, he has the potential to be better than anyone thought. His interceptions were costly, but you have to believe that his confidence and talents are inspired. He’s big time. That is why I said he was better than all those QB’s combined, including Flynn. We see what Flynn is capable of. Everyone from the Packers, to the Bills, to the Raiders, to the Seahawks know what Flynn can do. But Tolzien came out of nowhere and he gets better with every game. He’s a diamond in the rough and I’d take him over Flynn any day of the week.

      • Dion Ferguson

        Oh yeah I see where your coming from. But i still wouldn’t say he is better than all those players. He is better than all those minus Flynn. In Flynn’s first game against the lions that was 09-10 when they won the Superbowl. The Packers only had Flynn for the prior season which was Rodgers first starting season 08-09 the year of the wild card debacle. So they only had the guy for a season before he was seen to be good also. He is well under rated in my book though. Everyone keeps saying he has an elbow injury. Well he has had this bursitis before those games in the 09-10 season and in those first games he did not only good but exceptional for only receiving 5 – 10 snaps at practice before Rodgers got injured. Especially against a Lions team that has been continually getting better every season. In Tolziens first game of play i would consider it his first start even though wallace did play but only for one drive. The rest of this game was Tolzien. He is good but like i said he is just a little to squimish in the pocket still and that can be good or bad. Good in the fact that our O-line has been falling apart for the last few weeks bad in the means of trying to get those nice deep passes. I hope to see this guy get a lot better though. Like you said he is a diamond and i wish he would have come around in like 15 seasons when Rodgers is about all done with football.

  • TapDogsDad

    ANEN!!!