"I did some research before I came up here and studied up on Curly Lambeau and how that all worked," Coleman said on Friday, about four-and-a-half hours before stepping on the Don Hutson Center practice field for the first time as a quarterback with the Green Bay Packers. "What an impressive organization and how it shows the perseverance of the times. How long it's been around – I believe 92, 93 years now – I think 1919 was when the first thought was, 1921 it was established."
Not quite — the Packers were a city team in 1919 and 1920 before joining the NFL in 1921 — but certainly not a bad effort.
That Coleman, the second of Green Bay's seventh-round picks, took the initiative to learn the Packers' roots wouldn't have been a surprise to his head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Coach Russ Huesman arrived shortly after the Mocs lost 10 consecutive games to close the 2008 season. Coleman came a few months later from Tennessee, having lost the quarterback battle to Jonathan Crompton during embattled coach Lane Kiffin's one and only spring practice in 2009.
Coleman decided to transfer down a level to his hometown school, Tennessee-Chattanooga. Without the benefit of spring practice or any rapport with his new teammates, Coleman took charge. He organized practices that summer, not only emerging as a leader but making sure he could hit the ground running when fall camp started.
"Him learning the offense was a piece of cake," Huesman told Packer Report. "He knew the offense, he knew what everybody was supposed to be doing, he knew his role. That was never an issue with him."
Behind Coleman, the Mocs went from 1-11 in 2008 to back-to-back seasons of 6-5 in 2009 and 2010.
"You can go ahead and give him more credit because he deserves more credit than I do," Huesman said.
"We're not near where we are without him. They were 1-11 the year before we got here and we won six games. If B.J.'s not on this football team, we probably win two, maybe three; second year, we probably get a little bit better and win three or four. So, he elevated the program much faster than it should have been elevated. That's a credit to him."
B.J. Coleman throws under the supervision of Mike McCarthy
Mary Langenfeld/US Presswire
Coleman called the basic principles of the Chattanooga and Green Bay offenses "very similar."
"We ran a two-back system, which is very similar to here; three-step, five-step, seven-step drop game; play-action, half-action rolls, run-action passes. We did a lot of the same kind of concepts," Coleman said. "In regards to here, you've got to learn the terminology, you've got to make sure that you've got everything on the same page as these guys do too so you can communicate properly."
Not surprisingly, Coleman had an up-and-down first day on the job. What's beyond doubt, however, is Coleman has the physical tools. He has a strong arm and isn't afraid to drive the ball down the field.
"You could see he has good arm strength," coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday evening. "He was very anxious, excited as far as in the classroom. It's like a lot of quarterbacks. His footwork history is different than what he'll be taught here. So, there's going to be adjustments there. You could see that right away. But I liked his command in the huddle. He's aggressive. He can throw it. He's definitely a young man we're excited about having here and working with and developing him fundamentally and in the philosophy that we believe in."
Coleman, who trained once or twice a week with Brett Favre for a couple of months before the draft — no, they haven't spoken since Coleman was drafted — will battle Graham Harrell and fellow rookie camper Nick Hill to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers.
Looking further down the road, Coleman knows some of the Packers' more recent history. Matt Hasselback, Aaron Brooks and Matt Flynn have gone from backups in Green Bay to starters for other teams. Rodgers, of course, went from Favre's backup to Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP.
"It was a great feeling to come to an organization to like this and to see the history and success that they've had with their guys and how they develop them," Coleman said. "They take it very seriously. You can tell when you shake the hands of the coaches how important it is for them with the development process and getting better. Being a part of that is special."
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.