Scott Tolzien (16) prepares to throw the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field. The Eagles won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The Green Bay Packers played arguably their worst game of the season on Sunday when they surrendered a 27-13 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles at home.
Despite how rough the loss may be, I try to make it my goal each week to find something positive in the game the Packers can build off of going forward. Lately, the Packers poor play has made it more difficult by the week to find a silver lining.
Yes, Green Bay only managed to score 13 points at home. Yes, our starting quarterback left the game at the end of the first drive for the second week in a row. Yes, the Packers run game didn’t even perform well. Yes, our defense has apparently fallen into their old habits of poor tackling and blown coverage. Yes, our defense has failed again to make impact plays, like interceptions. And yes, more injuries. A lot more injuries. In fact, positions like quarterback, offensive line, and outside linebacker were down to their last man by the end of the game.
The story of the 2013 Green Bay Packers is rapidly turning ugly. Since the team lost Aaron Rodgers, things have simply not been the same, and I can’t say any of us are surprised there has been a drop off.
But one could argue it wasn’t the backup quarterback that lost the game for the Packers on Sunday. Last I checked, Rodgers doesn’t play defense. So what’s the excuse for the rapid decline on the defensive side of the ball over the past two weeks?
Is Rodgers so good that he hides all of these shortcomings?
Maybe. But it still doesn’t sit well with me to watch a defense that we all believed has improved this season miss open-field tackles, drop interceptions, and fail to play the ball in the air on long passing plays. Outside of another good performance by A.J. Hawk and a breakout game for rookie first round pick, Datone Jones, the rest of the defense had a pretty terrible game. The loss of the Packers best player is not the cause of the defensive decline.
But I digress. I’m here to talk about that silver lining thing.
On another day where the Packers starting quarterback exited the field after one drive, it was all too tempting to declare the Packers doomed because of injuries at the quarterback position.
Tolzien was signed off the Packers’ practice squad just a week prior to the matchup against the Eagles, and leading up to Sunday, he only took around six snaps with the offense in practice, according to Coach McCarthy. In fact, both McCarthy and offensive coordinator, Tom Clements, stated this week that for a good portion of the plays Tolzien ran in the game he had no experience practicing them.
Based on the way Tolzien played, you couldn’t even tell it was his first time running many of the plays, and given this fact, it’s even more amazing how calm and collective he appeared during the game. He was fearless in the pocket and demonstrated a strong arm. Just before the half, he threw a bullet to Jordy Nelson near the sidelines for a nice 30-yard completion to set up the field goal. He also put the ball right on the money and split a zone coverage on the touchdown pass to Brandon Bostick late in the third quarter.
Yes, Tolzien did throw two picks. His performance was far from perfect. But considering he just came off the practice squad, has very little experience in the Packers offense, and Sunday was his NFL debut, I say he played pretty darn well.
He threw for 280 yards and finished with a 61.5 completion percentage (24/39). He ran the Packers offense smoothly. A few passes got away from him. The interception in the end zone was under thrown. The second interception was thrown in crowd of defenders. Tolzien still has a lot to learn at the quarterback position. But as fans with an MVP quarterback sitting on the bench and no clear return in sight, we should feel encouraged by Tolzien’s composure and ability to make throws on the field.
Even with Matt Flynn returning to Green Bay this week, Coach McCarthy made it clear Tolzien will be the Packers starting quarterback against the New York Giants this week.
Tolzien’as debut performance was solid. He showed he can sustain long drives, and he put the Packers offense in position to score points. Now, he needs to work on finishing drives and capitalizing in the red zone. With a full week of preparation, I believe Tolzien can make enough throws come Sunday to put the Packers in a position to win the game.
Now, if only the defense can hold up their end.