Monday, September 2, 2013

Bigger Issues Than Backup Quarterback

By: Matt Bove

B.J. Coleman lasted a little more than 24 hours as the backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Press Gazette's Wes Hodkiewicz first tweeted out this morning that the Packers had released Coleman. Shortly afterwards, ESPN's Ed Werder reported that the Packers had signed Seneca Wallace to replace Coleman.

Wallace, 33, was cut by the San Francisco 49ers after Colt McCoy beat him out for their backup quarterback job. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh claimed that Wallace told him that he was retiring, although Werder reported that Wallace denied that claim.

Wallace has a 6-15 career record as a starting quarterback over his seven year career. He has 31 career touchdown passes, 18 interceptions, a 59.2% completion percentage and a 81.3 passer rating.

Obviously, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have handled the backup quarterback situation poorly going back to last season. Graham Harrell should have been cut at the end of last training camp when it was perfectly evident that he was not an NFL caliber quarterback.

However, McCarthy and Thompson banked on Harrell developing and improving. That was a huge miscalculation on their part, as Harrell just never had the arm strength and athleticism that it takes to be an NFL quarterback. Those skills cannot be taught. It is mind boggling that such smart football people in McCarthy and Thompson wasted all the time that they did on the noodled arm Harrell.

McCarthy and Thompson both missed on Coleman as well. It was clear from the start of training camp that they wanted Coleman to be the backup quarterback over Harrell. The Packers immediately signed Vince Young when Coleman threw two brutal interceptions during the Family Night Scrimmage  Harrell was actually 9-12 for 88 yards and a touchdown that night, but it was clear that his performance meant little to the Packers.

Coleman has the arm talent to succeed in the NFL, but his decision making and accuracy have not improved since he has been in Green Bay. His misses always seem to be high, which is just a recipe for disaster.

Young showed flashes but was not very consistent, and he seemed to have issues picking up the offense. Thompson admitted that he made a mistake bringing in Young so late and that it was not fair to him. So, he cut Young and brought in Wallace even later into the season, which doesn't make a ton of sense.

Wallace is a veteran so maybe he picks up the offense faster than most. However, it still won't be easy for him and at least Young has been here for a few weeks. Thompson's moves seem desperate now and it all stems from the mistake that he made last year in not cutting Harrell.

However, despite how awfully the backup quarterback position has been handled, the panic that I have seen from some fans on Twitter has been a little bit over the top. The chances are (knock on wood) that Rodgers will play every game, as he has only missed one start in his career.

The Packers are no worse at the backup quarterback spot today with Wallace than they were yesterday with Coleman or last year with Harrell because if any of those three had to play for extended time for the Packers they would be dead. In fact, if most NFL teams have to play their backup quarterback for an extended period of time they would most likely be dead as well.

There are much greater issues with the team that fans should be worried about like the offensive line and the defensive coordinator. David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay have looked good in the preseason, but how will they hold up with Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks coming at them? Evan Dietrich-Smith played like the career backup that he has been during the preseason and T.J. Lang did not look very good either.

Those are just the issues with the starting group. The depth at offensive line is even scarier than the depth at quarterback because the Packers are more likely to need the offensive line depth because they are more likely to get hurt than a quarterback.

Marshall Newhouse is fine for a swing tackle, but the depth at guard is scary bad. Greg Van Roten does not belong on an NFL roster let alone being the top backup at guard and center. Lane Taylor is probably better to be developed on the practice squad. Now that backup quarterback is settled Thompson must go out and find a suitable backup at guard. The Bryan Bulaga injury alone shouldn't kill their Super Bowl chances, but now they really cannot afford another offensive line injury and that is scary.

On defense, I like the personnel as much as I have in recent years. The defensive line is as deep as it has ever been, Nick Perry should be able to compliment Clay Matthews and the the cornerback group is very solid. However, Dom Capers is still at the helm, and his scheme has not held up against the NFL's top offenses in recent years. It is hard to have a ton of confidence in him until it does.

Yes, the backup quarterback situation is bad now and was handled horribly. All you can do is hope that it never matters and the Packers draft a quarterback to develop in the 2014 NFL Draft. Just be happy that we have perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. There are much greater issues that you should be concerning yourself with heading into Sunday's opener in San Francisco.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think Lane Taylor would have cleared waviers. He showed enough that some team would have picked him up and the Packers think like me next year he could push for a top backup spot or even push Lang for a starters spot. IMO this is why we also kept Josh Boyd Not ready to play but he would have got picked up if cut. IMO perhaps we need to do what NEP or Wash did. Draft a guy in the 3rd or 4th that could play if something happened and at worse maybe 3 or 4 years down the road you trade him for a higher pick.