Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
In this series we take a close look at the Packers 90-man roster on the verge of training camp and discuss each player’s chances of making the final 53.
The Green Bay Packers still managed to finish third in the league in total offense and sixth in passing in 2013 despite being without their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for nearly half the season.
The Packers’ offensive productivity was definitely hindered with Rodgers sidelined for eight games with a broken collarbone.
However, there isn’t any reason to believe the former MVP and the Packers offense can’t fire on all cylinders when they take the field in 2014.
The Packers are simply blessed to have one of the best players in the NFL at the most key position.
As Rodgers goes, so do the Packers.
Their hopes at a Super Bowl run reside on the shoulders of the Chico, California native, but this time around, he should get more help from a seemingly improved defense and a revived run game spearheaded by last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Eddie Lacy.
The question is, and remains to be, the depth at the quarterback position.
Do the Packers have a legitimate No. 2 at QB just in case the unthinkable happens again in 2014 and Rodgers has to miss, yet again, a significant amount of time?
Safe: Aaron Rodgers, 6-2, 225
Rodgers is still one of the best in the game and in the prime of his career. His absence last season certainly hurt, but it also highlighted just how important he is to this team and the Packers’ success.
If anything, the quarterback debacle in Green Bay through November and most of December should only make us appreciate good old No. 12 and what he does on the field even more this season.
Despite having only played in eight full games in 2013, Rodgers still managed 2,536 yards passing, 17 TDs, and only 6 interceptions.
Rodgers’ 104.5 passer rating last season finished only behind Nick Foles, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers, and he continues to be the only quarterback in league history to finish five straight seasons with a quarterback rating over 100.
Even more impressively, the Packers were 6-2 with Rodgers in the lineup and a measly 2-5-1 without him.
That says it all doesn’t it?
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy talks with quarterback Matt Flynn (10). Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Flynn is the front-runner for the top backup quarterback spot.
You have to hand it to the guy for coming in halfway through the season and getting thrown in the fire and somehow pulling together a .500 record (2-2-1) as a starter.
After being with the team for a little over a week, Flynn led an incredible second half comeback at home against Minnesota to force the game into overtime and save the loss with a tie.
Flynn also helped orchestrate two big come-from-behind wins in December against Atlanta and Dallas to keep the Packers playoff hopes alive, throwing five touchdowns and nearly 600 yards between the two contests.
However, Flynn did have his fair share of struggles, and his lack of arm strength was glaringly evident at times last season. Just look at the losses against Detroit and Pittsburgh.
There are some throws on the field he just can’t make.
The coaches do feel comfortable with Flynn running their offense. His experience in the Packers’ system definitely works in his favor. Green Bay did bring him back this offseason after he became a free agent, so that should tell us they feel confident in him backing up Rodgers.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien (16). Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
With a strong camp and preseason, Tolzien could challenge Flynn for the number two spot at the position. Although Tolzien struggled in the limited action he saw last season, the coaches seem to like his potential and physical ability.
Mike McCarthy has talked this offseason about how much improved Tolzien has looked already in OTAs. He’s praised the former Wisconsin Badger for being one of the hardest working players on the team this offseason and claims Tolzien is a true film junky.
Tolzien also has the arm strength Flynn’s game lacks, showcasing his affinity for the deep ball in his game against the Giants last season.
Tolzien has yet to hit his ceiling going into his fourth year as a pro and could have a breakout camp this August. He just needs to show a stronger understanding of McCarthy’s scheme and show a better command in the huddle, especially when the lights come on in the preseason contests.
Long Shot: Chase Rettig, 6-2, 215
It’s hard to imagine the Packers keeping four quarterbacks going into the 2014 season. They may not even keep three.
However, if Rettig shows enough promise in training camp, he may be a candidate for the Packers practice squad.
Rettig made his mark in the record books of Boston College, eclipsing the 8,000-yard passing mark and throwing for 52 TDs and 39 INTs as a four-year starter for the Eagles.
Rettig has plenty of accuracy, throwing a nearly 60 percent completion rate in college, but his mobility leaves a lot to be desired. He also has plenty of things to work on mechanically before he’ll ever see the field in the NFL.
Rettig could be a good player for the Packers to stash on the practice squad and develop down the road.
By the end of camp, I still think the Packers will only keep two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Right now, that would seem to be Rodgers and Flynn, but don’t be surprised if Tolzien makes a strong case for Flynn’s spot.
Tolzien might even impress the Packers enough for them to consider keeping three quarterbacks on the final 53.
This might not be a bad idea considering the run of injuries the position experienced last season. Green Bay definitely doesn’t want to be caught in the same position it was last year.
At least this time around the depth behind Rodgers already looks so much better than it did this time last year with Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman.
I also wouldn’t expect the Packers to scramble this preseason and pull off any Vince Young-type signings. At least I hope not.