Green Bay Packers spent three years on developing Green Bay Packers spent three years on developing

How Important is the Backup Quarterback for the Green Bay Packers?


Quarterback Seneca Wallace is the latest in a line of QBs who have auditioned to be Aaron Rodgers’ backup. Andrew Weber-US Presswire photograph

First, the Green Bay Packers spent three years on developing Graham Harrell as a No. 2 option behind starter Aaron Rodgers. Then they drafted B.J. Coleman to develop behind Harrell with the thought that Coleman may leapfrog the development project. Then they brought in Vince Young when it appeared obvious neither of these projects was going anywhere.

And now?

All three of these would-be Packers clipboard holders are looking for work.

And now journeyman Seneca Wallace has been tapped to take over the backup duties. The question is this: Just  how important is the backup quarterback position in Green Bay? The answer is: Not as important as you may think.

Without this guy, how much does it really matter who is running the offense? Maybe less than you’d think. Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

This is because Ted Thompson and his brain trust have built the Packers to win with Rodgers taking all of the quarterback snaps. If he gets hurt and is out for any length of time, it won’t matter if it’s Harrell, Coleman, Young, Wallace or my mom out there.

Think of recent Pittsburgh Steelers teams as an example. When Ben Roethlisberger used to get hurt (and he got hurt a lot), they threw Charlie Batch out there. Batch is 75 years old now and no longer serves that role, but you get the point: They wanted an experienced game manager to run a pared-down version of the offense in hopes the defense could keep the team in the game.

If Rodgers goes down, Wallace isn’t going to run the same high-powered offense we’ve seen Rodgers run. We’ll see a lot more hand-offs, maybe some designed plays for Randall Cobb and some high-percentage passes with the intent being to move the chains.

And if you look at Wallace’s career numbers, well, they really aren’t too bad on paper: 59.2 completion percentage, 31 touchdowns and 18 picks. His yard per-completion is a pretty sorry 6.29, but hey, that’s a game manager for you.

Seneca Wallace is the latest Packers’ clipboard holder. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

While the prospect of Wallace starting multiple games does worry me, at the same time, we all know we can’t have the same expectations for the Packers without Rodgers as we do with him. That’s why he’s making all that money. My take on this is that Thompson and McCarthy finally admitted to themselves that they were trying to make silk purses out of sows’ ears by attempting to develop Harrell and Coleman, and they gave up.

Expect the Packers to draft or sign a young quarterback next year; Thompson and McCarthy still believe in their quarterback development system. Or perhaps recent signee Scott Tolzein – plucked from waivers after he was cut by the San Francisco 49ers – will stick around and develop into a quality backup, rather than being a spy. Ahem.

Or, hey, with the way things are going in Oakland these days, the Packers may wind up signing Matt Flynn again.