The issues: No impact from Brohm

There are other issues facing the Green Bay Packers this offseason than the defensive coordinator vacancy. In this series, we will look at every position in examining the Packers' key questions, starting today with quarterback Brian Brohm.

An amazing thing happened between the NFL Draft and Week 1 of this season: Brian Brohm went from a potential challenger to Aaron Rodgers' position as anointed starter to third-string quarterback.

In the most controversial move of the offseason not related to Brett Favre, general manager Ted Thompson traded emerging defensive tackle Corey Williams to the Cleveland Browns for a second-round draft pick.

About two months later, the Packers used that draft pick — No. 56 overall — on Brohm, the prolific quarterback from Louisville who threw for almost 10,000 yards and 65 touchdowns during his three seasons as the starter.

Was it a signal Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy weren't thrilled with Rodgers' development? Was it simply a precautionary move in case the oft-injured Rodgers couldn't get through his first season as the starter?

"The thing that impressed me about Brian is the consistency," McCarthy said on draft day. "You always look for what a player offers you, how he fits into your system, or do you need to adjust your system to fit the quarterback or any other player, and I think he gives us a quarterback that has played a lot of football in college. He's very polished."

That polish, however, hardly ever was evident on the practice field during offseason workouts and training camp. The son of a former Louisville quarterback and the brother of former NFL quarterback Jeff Brohm, Brian Brohm looked like a guy who hadn't thrown a football in his life. Brohm, who might have been the No. 1 overall pick had he come out of school in 2006, at times struggled to even throw a spiral. Out patters wobbled over receivers' heads. Screen passes fell at the feet of the backs.

The preseason was a disaster. Brohm completed 19-of-42 passes (45.2 percent) for 155 yards, with no touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of just 45.2.

"The preseason obviously didn't go the way I wanted it to," Brohm said. "I feel like I learned a whole lot from this year. I didn't let that get me down. I worked hard the entire year and I feel like I got better as a player."

Stunningly, seventh-round pick Matt Flynn — who led LSU to the national championship but fell in the draft because of a lack of arm strength — went from long shot to make the team to Rodgers' backup.

"I had no preconceived expectations going in," quarterbacks coach Tom Clements said when asked if he was "shocked" at how things shook out. "They both competed and Matt ended up winning."

Making the Brohm selection look even worse is the calamity that was the Packers' defensive line. While Williams did almost nothing to justify the six-year, $38 million contract ($16 million guaranteed) that was lavished upon him by the Browns after the trade — the Packers feared how Williams would react to getting a fat payday — he at least was a reliable body, unlike Justin Harrell. Without Williams and without even a modest impact from Harrell, the Packers' run defense suffered, the pass rush was nonexistent and coordinator Bob Sanders lost his job.

Of course, it's too early to proclaim Brohm a bust. As a rookie in 2005, Rodgers' preseason passer rating of 53.0 was only slightly higher than Brohm's, and it took him until his 20th possession to lead a scoring drive. Rodgers' regular-season passer rating in 2005 was 39.2. In 2006, his regular-season rating was 48.2. In 2008, Rodgers started all 16 games, threw for more than 4,000 yards and had a rating of 93.8. So, the first few seasons can mean practically nothing when evaluating a young quarterback.

Plus, Brohm has the benefit of working with Clements, who has earned his stripes working with Favre and Rodgers, as well as Elvis Grbac and Kordell Stewart during those quarterbacks' only Pro Bowl seasons.

Nonetheless, with Rodgers entrenched as the starting quarterback and the Packers' defensive line a shambles, the trade of Williams and the selection of Brohm loom as the worst decisions of last offseason. It's up to Brohm to rewrite that history.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com.


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