Representing the beginning of an ongoing multiple-part series, we are going to take a look back at how each positional group for the Green Bay Packers performed in 2019. Starting off with quarterbacks, the focus will be put on Aaron Rodgers, as he was able to remain healthy enough to play in all 16 games this year.
While Tim Boyle was kept on the active roster the entire season as the main backup, he only received solid run time in the preseason, providing very little time for the front office to accurately assess their depth at QB. Manny Wilkins has been on the practice squad and scout team for the entirety of the year as well, but his presence there was more of a formality, adding an emergency backup situation that knows the playbook if something were to happen.
2019 stats: 16 games, 353/569 (62%), 4,002 yards, 26 TDs, 4 INTs, 95.39 average passer rating
As first-year head coach Matt LaFleur came into Titletown to replace Mike McCarthy, the focus turned to the relationship that both Rodgers and LaFleur would have running this offense, as both have extensive offensive backgrounds and had the potential for a bit of a clash of ideals. With no evidence to point to any sort of real issues between the two, the pairing put together a very smooth first year, helping fuel the fire of what to expect moving forward.
Rodgers is a generational talent, no one can truly deny that. But with how he was able to wear the hats of a game leader and a game manager, depending on the game flow and script, it was quite evident how well he was able to fall into LaFleur’s schemes and get them accomplished right away, something that truly pulls out AR’s talents on the field. Yes, there were games that he produced very poor performances that made everyone question him (San Francisco in the regular season, to be specific), but don’t forget about the small-but-evident hype of Rodgers being in the race for the MVP award after the first few weeks of the season.
Having thrown the ball 28 fewer times than last year, producing a 0.3 lower completion percentage, all while playing 74 more snaps is a bit of a mixed bag – but for the right reasons.
Having a heavier reliance on the rushing attack, spearheaded by next week’s focal members Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, helped take a good deal of pressure off of Rodgers. As their opponents grew to understand how dominant of a team that they could be if their rushing attack was flourishing, Rodgers was able to string together very impressive games.
The opening up of the offense as the regular season progressed was a welcomed sight, even with the different speed bumps that the offensive unit underwent. As the run game was gone away from in certain instances, an element that LaFleur took full responsibility for, Rodgers was tasked with helping this team win games, something that put him under more of a microscope than usual and commonly leading to missed expectations.
With a current offensive unit comprised of similar strengths and weaknesses to that of the entirety of Rodgers’ career, just think what he could do if he was given a few more toys at his disposal. In a draft stocked full of solid receiver talent, look for Green Bay to try and finally upgrade the receivers in the offense to help fully utilize the play-calling style of LaFleur.
Tim Boyle / Manny Wilkins
The path that both Boyle and Wilkins have followed to get to the NFL has been the undrafted route, which has ultimately paid off for both of them in the long run. For Boyle, having bid his time behind DeShone Kizer for a year helped him round out his playing style and abilities, leading to him pushing Kizer for the no. 2 QB role and eventually winning that battle in 2019 training camp.
Boyle played very well in the preseason this past season, going a combined 34/57 for 256 yards and 6 TDs while only committing one turnover, losing a fumble Week Two of the preseason against Baltimore. In his second preseason with the team, Boyle seemed to have been given the upper hand in reps and opportunities, showcasing that the team believed in him more than Kizer or any other options at the time.
The Eastern Kentucky product looks to be a solid, yet unspectacular backup QB who has yet to truly showcase enough to say if he is a valuable future asset or not. Being familiar with the playbook can only get you so far, so Boyle’s on-field performance will need to pick up in the unfortunate event that he is needed in a regular-season affair.
For Wilkins, he is on a similar path that Boyle was in 2018, but the Arizona State alum does not project to have as much of a developed skill set, at least early on. Only six pass attempts in the preseason led to barely any sort of an impressionable feeling on the front office, yet even as they released him at the end of August for roster cutdowns, they felt comfortable enough with what he has shown so far that he was brought back onto the team’s practice squad for the whole season.
As nice as it is for Wilkins to be that nice developmental piece for LaFleur and company to work with, both GM Brian Gutekunst and La Fleur has been very open to addressing their backup QB role in the draft if the opportunity presents itself, especially with the course of development that both Boyle and Wilkins have been on, as well as the age of Rodgers.
QB in this upcoming draft has a ton of interesting potential lying around, as undisputed first overall selection Joe Burrow of LSU leads this position into the draft, looking to reshape some teams. Justin Herbert (Oregon), Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), and Jordan Love (Utah State) all look to be solid to fringe first-round selection, and both Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa should not make it to GB at pick 30.
Love has been gaining steam in the pre-draft process, and he is being looked at as a potential upstart option for teams looking to potentially go out of the box in drafting their next franchise leader. For Green Bay, Love seems to be the most likely option of the four listed, although other options like Jacob Eason (Washington), Jake Fromm (Georgia), Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), or Anthony Gordon (Washington State) exist for GB to take in the later rounds.
There are plenty of options, as there always are, for the Packers to upgrade their QB depth chart through the draft, and while a high selection of a QB would represent the beginning of the end (most likely) for Boyle, the team would be smart to address this issue very soon. Rodgers will not be able to perform at a high level forever, so making that first move (like they did with Brett Favre and Rodgers) helps set this team up for success down the road.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23