Looking Back/Ahead: Quarterbacks

We review 2013 with our good, bad, surprise and grade, plus take a look at what's ahead in 2014. The good is obvious: Aaron Rodgers. The bad is on Ted Thompson for signing Matt Flynn one month too late.

In Part 1 of our season-ending review of the Green Bay Packers, we look back and ahead at quarterback.


Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace.


Rodgers and Tolzien.


The grade: B-minus. Rodgers was Rodgers. He finished fifth in passer rating, second in yards per completion, fourth in touchdown percentage and fifth in completion percentage. The Packers went 6-2 in regular-season games that he started and finished.

Without him, the Packers went 2-5-1. Wallace was terrible in relief of Rodgers against Chicago. Up next was Tolzien, who flashed some real promise but threw five interceptions in 90 attempts. Rodgers threw six interceptions in 502 attempts in 2011. Up next was Flynn, who wasn't great but he was clutch. While the Packers had never rallied from a two-score deficit in the second half under coach Mike McCarthy, Flynn authored a tie and two wins.

The good: Rodgers, of course, was good. When he was league MVP in 2011, he averaged 9.25 yards per pass attempt. That was fourth-best since the 1970 merger. In 2012, he slipped back to 7.8 yards per attempt. With the addition of Eddie Lacy putting defenses in a pickle, Rodgers' average rebounded to 8.74 yards per attempt. That was second in the league. The Packers averaged 30.6 points in his eight full regular-season games.

The bad: When the Raiders released Matt Flynn on Oct. 7, the Packers should have pounced. Instead, they stuck with Wallace. In playing essentially a full game against Chicago and Philadelphia, Wallace completed two-thirds of his passes but averaged just 5.79 yards per attempt and tossed an interception. The Packers lost to the Bears, Eagles and Giants and tied the Vikings. Had Flynn been signed in early October rather than on Nov. 11, maybe the Packers go 2-2 or even 3-1 in those games instead of 0-3-1.

The surprise: Flynn's physical limitations are obvious. Still, the new Matty Ice kept the Packers' season alive. Upon stepping into the lineup in Week 12, he led the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating at 125.5.

The coach says: "We feel good about where we are offensively. It'll be great to have Aaron and Eddie (Lacy) back and ready to go next year. It just makes it so the defense has to defend against everything – the run, the pass, all types of passes, the various runs. It makes, as long as you can execute, it makes playing offense fun. So, we're looking forward to it." — offensive coordinator Tom Clements


McCarthy, who usually avoids hypothetical questions, offered a powerful comment about the state of his Packers heading into their Week 9 game against Chicago.

"I felt that this was going to be the best offense that we've ever had here," he said at his season-ending news conference on Wednesday. "I thought we were going to go past 2011. When we came out of the Minnesota game, I thought we really, really hit our stride because we had a couple of bumps there and we got the no-huddle offense where it needed to be; we changed a lot of the mechanics from the past. I felt very, very good about our offense and our numbers reflected it, too."

Without Rodgers, the Packers went 2-5-1 to finish 8-7-1. Had Rodgers kept playing, it's hard to see them losing to Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the tie vs. Minnesota probably becomes a win, too. So, Green Bay looks like a 12-4 team, if not better. With Rodgers in a season-long groove, the Packers probably don't go three-and-out against any team on the planet for three consecutive possessions to start the playoff game.

In other words — defensive shortcomings notwithstanding — the Packers probably are playing this weekend if Rodgers hadn't gotten hurt.

If Rodgers stays healthy for 15 or 16 games in 2014, the Packers will win a fourth consecutive NFC North title and capture a sixth consecutive playoff berth.

Who will be Rodgers' backup? How much interest — if any — Will Flynn receive on the free-agent market? It's hard to see any team making him a starter, but it wouldn't be a surprise for a team with a weak No. 1 making a play at Flynn. The Packers haven't had three quarterbacks on the roster to start a season since 2008, when Flynn and Brian Brohm were Rodgers' backups. The guess here is the Packers will take Rodgers, Flynn and Tolzien into the regular season.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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