Commentary: No. 2 stuck in Catch-22

Catch-22: Noun. A paradox in a law, regulation, or practice that makes one a victim of its provisions no matter what one does.

Tim Couch's face is not sketched next to that definition in the Webster's New World College Dictionary. Perhaps it should, though, because the Packers' ballyhooed off-season acquisition is in danger of not making the team.

To be generous, Couch hasn't been very good during his two preseason appearances. His quarterback rating of 39.6, coming on 8-of-28 passing for 82 yards, doesn't even tell the story.

Certainly, Couch's numbers would be better if he were camped out behind the No. 1 offensive line and he had the luxury of throwing the ball to someone of Javon Walker's athleticism, Donald Driver's knowledge of the offense or Robert Ferguson's ability to get open in traffic.

A better supporting cast, however, wouldn't turn Couch's horrible numbers upside down. Fact is, Couch looks lost. He has no clue where to throw the ball. And when he does, he lacks the arm strength to get it there. Worse, those two factors have conspired to rob him of his confidence.

To feel more comfortable in the pocket, Couch needs to practice and play and generally be thrown to the wolves. But with Couch's arm tired, injured or both, he needs time to rest.

Hence, the Catch-22.

By practicing and playing, Couch's arm won't get any better. If his arm doesn't recover, Couch can't make the throws necessary to be successful. In that case, there's no reason for Couch to make the final roster.

By taking time off to rest his arm, though, Couch will remain incapable of guiding the offense. If he's not comfortable enough in the offense to be successful, there's no reason for Couch to make the final roster.

Couch is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Couch's No. 1 enemy isn't his lack of knowledge of the offense, nor is it his tired or injured throwing arm. No, Couch's No. 1 enemy is the calendar.

Couch urgently needs to do something to convince coach Mike Sherman to keep him for the season, but the time simply isn't there. There's no time to rest his arm, but that uncooperative arm is just making him look silly when he's in the game.

Couch was given Wednesday off, marking the second time in three days he didn't practice and eighth time this training camp. That erratic schedule does a great deal to explain why Couch has looked so bad in the games.

"He hasn't had enough reps on the field to be able to get better," quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell said.

Couch has the ability to make it big in this league. On his first day of full-squad training camp, all of the tools that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft were on display. He excelled at throwing on the run. He's not Michael Vick, but he's plenty athletic enough. Despite the lack of a big-time arm, Couch threw an effective deep ball because he could put it exactly where he wanted.

It's too bad that Couch hasn't shown during the preseason. It's too bad that No. 2, a realistic possibility to be the quarterback of the team's future, got entwined in a Catch-22.

Huber writes for Contact him via e-mail at

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