Why the Backup QB Worries? The Problem Lies With the Packers O-Line

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings

It’s amazing that a simple thing as a backup NFL quarterback can generate so much angst and venom that fans actually disgrace a coaching philosophy.

I agree that the No. 2 quarterback job probably should be established a little before the season begins for real on Sunday.

But that’s not the root of the problem.  And neither is coach Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school, quarterback coach Ben McAdoo’s inability to coach up the position or general manager Ted Thompson’s sudden bout of failure when it comes to mining quarterbacking talent.

All of those things seem like rational reasons as to why the Packers have signed and cut Vince Young in less than a month, cut B.J. Coleman and now signed Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien as the backup and to play on the practice squad.

But the root of the problem is something else.

The reason the Packers are in this position at all is because the offensive line has been dreadful the last four years. In that time, Aaron Rodgers, the face of the franchise, face of the NFL and the best quarterback in the league has been sacked 168 times. In 2009 he was sacked 50 times and last season he was brought down 51 times.

That can’t happen. How do you expect to maintain a level of excellence from the game’s toughest position if you have failed over-and-over to keep his jersey clean?

The last time the Packers drafted an offensive lineman in the first or second round — meaning the team put a high level of priority on the position — was in 2011 when Derek Sherrod was taken in the first round. After breaking his leg he hasn’t seen game action since Week 15 of 2011 and he may never see game action again.

The year before, Bryan Bulaga was also taken in the first round, but tore his ACL in the Packers annual Family Night intrasquad scrimmage and is done for the year.

Before Bulaga, the last offensive lineman to be taken in the first two rounds was Daryn Colledge in 2006.

That was seven years ago. I blame Thompson but not for his lack of being able to spot quarterback talent, or any talent for that matter. His draft record speaks for itself, which is why NFL teams are always waiting with a plate and silverware to clean up the scraps the Packers have to part with on cut day. Thompson gets the blame for not putting Rodgers’ protection as a higher priority.

The Packers were lucky enough to have Brett Favre play brilliantly for 16 years before handing the reins off to Rodgers who has made the position even more efficient. That doesn’t happen all the time. Heck, that barely happens at all.

The Bills are still looking for the next Jim Kelly, the Jets are searching for the next Joe Namath and the Oakland Raiders are still combing colleges for the next Ken Stabler. The common denominator between all those teams is that they’re mediocre because they don’t have the most important position shored up.

No matter what your feelings were when Thompson decided to part ways with Favre and give the keys to Rodgers, the Packers have been fortunate that the same high-level quarterback play has remained at Lambeau Field all these years. If anything, Favre and Rodgers may have spoiled fans.

Favre always played through pain despite having capable guys like Ty Detmer, Matt Hasselbeck and Doug Pederson back him up. Rodgers had Matt Flynn behind him for four years and he started a couple games before giving way to the overmatched Graham Harrell who was the No. 2 last year for the first time after signing on as an undrafted free agent with the Packers in 2010.

I understand it’s imperative to give Rodgers enough weapons to win with, but what’s the point in having all these weapons if you can’t use them because 300-pound defensive players are ready to take your head off?

The amount of hate I was reading on Twitter and elsewhere when the Packers completed their quarterback transactions was pretty surprising. The reason people are nervous isn’t because the level of play from Rodgers to Wallace is the same. That’s like comparing Mount Everest to a snow sledding hill.

They’re nervous because they’re afraid that Rodgers will be able to make it through the entire season unscathed while dropping back to pass behind an offensive line that has been shuffled more times than a deck of cards at the MGM Grand.

The Packers desperately need to protect its $110 million man soon or else the fans will soon find themselves saying: “The Packers are still searching for the next Rodgers.”


Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn



5 thoughts on “Why the Backup QB Worries? The Problem Lies With the Packers O-Line

  1. I completely agree with your comments, the O line is scary-bad and has not improved over the last several years. Maybe Ted needs to start using the free agent market at least for a few positions there, you can only plug a few holes at a time through the draft. Recently our draft picks have been used to shore up the defense. (which actually looks pretty good now.) The problem with draft and develop only system, is that it takes time, and when you have injuries you end up with a patchwork line like we have.

  2. Eventually, Ted Thompson’s priorities are going to have to change. If he wants to hang on to Aaron Rodgers for the life of his contract, the offensive cannot be ignored.

    1. Quite possible. Why they’ve stayed with this when it hasn’t proven itself worth 10¢ is interesting. Still, you need talent.

  3. TT has done a poor job at OL. Including the draft and FA. That he was very fortunate in having Rodgers fall to him is fact. Unlike Ron Wolf who went out and traded for Favre. So the best player TT will ever draft fell to him when he was considered along with Alex Smith as the number one pick in the draft that year.

    TT has so far (here’s hoping that is over) done poorly at drafting RB’s. His TE picks have been poor as well, unless Finley has a monster season. Overall therefore, on offense, he is overrated. Done well at receiver, Rodgers fell into his lap, one real good OL in Sitton, that’s it. Maybe I’ve missed someone but this is over eight drafts (not counting 2013 as it is too early).

    If the Giants had not blown that big lead at home to the Eagles in 2010, with less than eight minutes remaining, they wouldn’t have made the playoffs thus no SB. TT and MM probably gone. TT has been very lucky twice then, Rodgers falling to him and the Giants implosion in 2010.

    My take is that while TT is a good GM, he’s overrated by too many.

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