For the past two-plus decades, Green Bay Packers fans have come to believe that if you put a quarterback out on the field at Lambeau Field he immediately becomes a Hall of Famer, leading the team to win after win and having the Packers in contention for a playoff spot and a possible Super Bowl bid.
That’s just how it seems it works around here.
Not so fast … enter the 2013 season when Aaron Rodgers not only fractured his collarbone, but made it very clear that when he isn’t on the field, the Green Bay Packers aren’t the same team.
Packers fans found out very quickly how other fans across the league feel year-in and year-out. Finding a franchise quarterback is not simple, but finding a qualified backup is even more difficult. Green Bay went through three quarterbacks-to-be in training camp last season (B.J. Coleman, Vince Young and Graham Harrell); they settled on Seneca Wallace hours before the start of the regular season, then signed Scott Tolzien off the San Francisco 49ers roster hoping they could develop him on the practice squad.
We all know about the best laid plans.
When Rodgers went down, Wallace stepped in against the Bears and proceeded to do nothing. The Packers went on to lose to their longtime rival by a touchdown that night, but there was hope, everyone thought.
Wallace started the next week at home against the Philadelphia Eagles and lasted a single series before he went out with a hamstring injury.
He threw the ball around the yard and looked pretty good while doing it.
But it wasn’t enough. The Packers lost that game and Tolzien went on to start two more weeks: against the New York Giants and and the Minnesota Vikings.
However, before the Minnesota game Ted Thompson decided to run out and get his sixth quarterback of the season (not counting Rodgers) – Matt Flynn. The return of Flynn brought back some hope. He entered the Vikings game down by three touchdowns and led Green Bay back from that deficit to tie the Vikings in overtime.
While Flynn played terribly on Thanksgiving Day, he bounced back to lead the Packers to two of the team’s most improbable back-to-back comebacks against the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys.
Flynn did what many, myself included, didn’t think he could do – he kept the Packers within striking distance long enough so that Rodgers could come back and lead Green Bay to that heartstopping win in the season finale at Chicago.
With all that said, we know the Packers face a conundrum at the quarterback position. With a healthy Rodgers running the team, all is well in Mudville. But if Rodgers is taken asunder for another extended period, the team is in trouble. The lesson everyone learned last year was a tough one and was never completely resolved.
The Packers once again move toward the NFL Draft with their backup at this point being Scott Tolzien. Matt Flynn is a free agent and there’s been no movement in trying to re-sign him … at least there hasn’t been any discussion about that possibility in the public realm. What is happening behind closed doors we don’t know.
So, if you were Ted Thompson, what would you do? Would you do everything you could to re-sign the only guy who has been a decent backup quarterback in Green Bay in quite some time?
Or is it time to move on? Is it time the Packers use the Draft once more to bring in a quarterback to develop? Can the team rely on Tolzien to hold down the backup position? What if quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo, or A.J. McCarron, or Aaron Murray, or David Fales, or Brett Smith, or even Connor Shaw might be available when the Packers enter the third or fourth rounds. Do they snatch one of those guys up and hope they can develop a backup who can step in and play behind Rodgers.
Or is Tolzien the guy?
But we can’t forget about Flynn.
No doubt, if TT can get the guy inked on the inexpensive side, my guess is that is what he will do.
However, I wouldn’t put it past Thompson to go after one of those young QBs in the Draft. Aaron Rodgers isn’t going to be around forever and sometimes it’s plain foolish to pass up a player who might help the team immensely down the road. Think Aaron Rodgers here. How many years did he ride the pine?
Clearly, the Packers have to make some decisions about their quarterbacks. And the sooner they make those decisions and answer some of the questions that are permeating the Green Bay air about the situation, the better.
Stay tuned on this one …