When it comes to two-minute drills in June, Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Scott Tolzien is Capt. Comeback.
Just like he did on June 2, the last time fans and reporters were allowed to attend organized team activities, Tolzien battled some adversity to drive the offense to the winning touchdown on Wednesday.
Given 1:03 and one timeout to navigate 65 yards, Tolzien overcame a second-down drop by Jimmie Hunt by hitting Ricky Collins for 13 yards to the defense’s 47-yard line. A timeout stopped the clock with 34 seconds to go. Tolzien then hit Hunt, who got out of bounds after a 9-yard gain, and Hunt again for a gain of 14 to the 24, with Tolzien killing the clock with 14 seconds to play.
After an incompletion to the end zone left 7 seconds to play, Tolzien threw a perfect pass into tight coverage to rookie tight end Kennard Backman, but he dropped the ball in the end zone. On the final play, Tolzien threw another perfect pass, with undrafted rookie tight end Mitchell Henry making the catch against first-year defensive back Kyle Sebetic, among at least two other defenders, in the end zone for the touchdown.
Last week, Tolzien got the ball into the end zone despite four dropped passes.
“You’re pleased but I know we’ve had other two-minute drills when you guys haven’t been out there that haven’t gone as great,” Tolzien said. “I think you keep those in the back of your mind, as well. You’re trying to really get better each day. You can’t get overly excited about one good two-minute drive. It’s a building block but you’ve still got to prove it the next day.”
While Tolzien downplayed those successes, they serve as confirmation of the Packers’ decision to go with him instead of veteran Matt Flynn in free agency.
“Scott Tolzien has taken a step,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I think he’s definitely done that through the OTAs. I thought he had, shoot, about three outstanding throws in the third-down (period and) the last two plays of the two-minute were big-time throws. He’s taking that step with his opportunities in the OTA practice environment. So, he’ll continue to work like he always has. At the end, it’s the preseason games. That’s where you really want to see every player take a jump, especially at the quarterback position. And I have all the confidence that he’ll do that.”
Two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers has watched Tolzien’s development since he was signed to the practice squad before the 2013 opener. Tolzien impressed immediately with his work ethic, and now he’s taking that to the practice field.
“The goals are to make that jump, where you go from a guy who can play a few snaps to a guy you can really count on,” Rodgers said. “And I think that happens with just more the reps. I always like it when I break the huddle to be able to think about a memory, a quick snippet of that play that's happened in the past. We take so many reps in this offense, a positive play can quickly come to your mind. What happens to a guy like Scott, the more reps he gets, especially now and in training camp, when he takes a lot, you start to really store up those positive memories and stack those successes on top of each of other, to where you're breaking the huddle, you have that positive memory to flash in your mind right away.”
Rodgers said Tolzien has put himself in position to have a good career. From Tolzien’s perspective, that’s looking too far down the road. For Tolzien, nothing has changed since his days at Wisconsin and the 49ers. It’s about taking what was learned today and getting better tomorrow.
“There is an added confidence level just being in the same playbook, so you can process information faster,” he said. “Because of that, you can play faster. But I was quick to say, that’s one throw. There’s a lot of negatives out there too that you’re working on. So, the focus is to watch the film and get better from it. And then tomorrow, try to get better again.”email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.