The Green Bay Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their roster since 2010 when they kept Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell. That could change this season.
The Packers have kept only two quarterbacks for the last three years to give them added roster flexibility. Keeping only two quarterbacks has allowed them to grab an extra roster spot at another position. Maybe that player could add depth, be a developmental guy or be a special teams contributor.
Most teams will never have three quarterbacks on the active 46 player game day roster even if they have three on the 53 man roster, so it makes sense to try to stash a third developmental guy on the practice squad instead of the active roster. However, it finally caught up to the Packers last season when their starting quarterback got injured in consecutive games and they were a play away from Jordy Nelson playing quarterback twice.
Ted Thompson found out the importance of the backup quarterback position when his complete botching of it burned him last season. It was more of the fact of who was the backup than the fact that he only had two total quarterbacks on the roster, but that didn’t help him either. Thompson should have figured out Graham Harrell couldn’t play long ago like most people knew and had a better backup plan than Vince Young and Seneca Wallace.
This year the Packers are setup much better with Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. Flynn seems like a safe bet to stay after he kept the Packers in the division race with a 2-2-1 record in his appearances. Having an offseason with the team should only help Flynn improve in his return to the Packers. They know what he is, and he has already proven to be a worthy backup in Green Bay.
The question will be whether Green Bay will keep Tolzien on the active roster. He will be tough to sneak onto the practice squad after he showed some talent filling in for Rodgers and Wallace. The Packers might be grooming him to be the future backup and would not want to risk losing him in that case.
Tolzien’s stats from last season will not impress you if you didn’t personally watch his games. He threw only one touchdown pass to five interceptions and completed 61% of his passes. However, he did have one impressive stat; he averaged 7.97 yards per pass attempt, which if carried over the full season would have ranked 7th in the NFL ahead of quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Colin Kaeprnick, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo and Cam Newton.
Tolzien showed off better than expected arm strength and excelled at throwing the deep ball. He especially showed in during his Week 11 start at the New York Giants in which he completed five passes over 20 yards, threw for 339 yards and averaged 9.97 yards per attempt.
Of course Tolzien needs to work on a lot of things with his decision making being on the top of the list. Too many time he would be leading a great drive only to see it end in an interception. However, as a young quarterback he should improve in this area as he gets used to the speed of the NFL game and gains more knowledge of the system.
One of the main stories of training camp to watch for is Tolzien’s development. If he continues to improve off of last season then there is a good chance that the Packers keep three worthy quarterbacks on the roster this year. That is a far cry from the disaster of last season.