The 2009 Packers by position: Quarterbacks

In Part 2 of our position-by-position look at training camp, we look at Aaron Rodgers and his backups. What can Rodgers do for an encore? Starting games faster is one major key.

Packer Report continues its position-by-position training camp preview with a look at the quarterbacks. The list after "depth" includes all of the players on the current roster. The list after "final cut" is our prediction on who will make the final roster, with the number of players based on past seasons.

Depth (3): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm.

Review: The spotlight would have been bright and the comparisons never-ending for Rodgers had Brett Favre stayed retired. Instead, the spotlight was amplified and the comparisons went into warp drive because of Favre's decision to return, the subsequent controversy and his trade to the Jets. Despite the added pressure, Rodgers by most measures was a success. The allegedly brittle Rodgers started all 16 games and played through a painful shoulder injury. His 4,038 yards and 28 touchdown passes ranked fourth in the league and his passer rating of 93.7 ranked sixth. His athletic ability proved to a double-edged sword. He rushed for 207 yards and four touchdowns but absorbed 34 sacks compared to the 19 allowed by team in 2007. He was rewarded with a contract extension through 2014 at midseason. Behind him, seventh-round pick Flynn thoroughly outplayed the highly decorated second-round pick Brohm throughout training camp and the preseason to be the surprising No. 2 quarterback. That surprise also proved to be a double-edged sword. That Flynn showed such promise was great, but because Brohm struggled, the Packers had no choice but to gamble on two rookie quarterbacks behind the inexperienced Rodgers. The Packers couldn't part with Flynn, it was far too early to give up on Brohm and signing a veteran fourth quarterback would have reduced the depth elsewhere.

Strength: In just one season, Rodgers has established himself as one of the game's top signal-callers. Most first-year starters are happy to dink and dunk their way down the field. Rodgers, on the other hand, ranked second in the NFL with 16 completions of 40-plus yards. He also excelled on the money down, putting together a fourth-ranked passer rating of 105.8 with a second-ranked 14 touchdowns on third down. He threw only 13 interceptions, with one or fewer in an incredible 14 games last year. He compiled an overall rating topping 100 in seven games, with the Packers going 5-2. One of those losses was against Atlanta, when he had a gutty rating of 109.4 in the game after injuring his throwing shoulder at Tampa Bay. Maybe Rodgers stuck to the system too closely last year, but that's better than giving away possessions with stupid interceptions. How lucky are the Packers? In a league in which teams can go decades without a legit quarterback — ask Detroit and Chicago, who hope they've finally solved their inadequacies at the position — Green Bay has gone from Favre to Rodgers, giving them a possible three decades of uninterrupted excellence. That's assuming, of course, Rodgers continues to improve.

Weakness: Every Packers fan can recite this figure in his sleep: 0-7 in games decided by four points or less. If there's one black mark against Rodgers last season, that would be it. And those shortcomings can be seen a little in his numbers. His season-long touchdown-to-interception ratio was 28 to 13. In the fourth quarters, however, he threw eight touchdowns against five interceptions. His passer rating of 87.8, which ranked 14th in the NFL, wasn't horrible, but it sugarcoats some late-game interceptions rather than late-game heroics. With that said, would the Packers have been behind the 8-ball in the fourth quarter had they not played so poorly in the first quarter? Green Bay scored 61 points in the opening period. Only Carolina, Detroit and Washington did worse in the NFC. It's up to Rodgers — the leader of the team — to lead by example from the start. As for Flynn and Brohm, they are the great unknown. They'll battle in training camp to be the backup, with Flynn emerging from the offseason a sizable favorite to do just that. The intangible qualities that helped him win a national championship at LSU allow him to overcome less-than-desired arm strength. But Brohm threw 71 touchdown passes against quality competition at Louisville, so don't discount his chances. He was vastly improved during the offseason.

Quoteworthy: "I think it's important, No. 1, for Aaron Rodgers to be himself," coach Mike McCarthy said in June. "Do I think he's an extension of myself? Yes, I agree. But it's important for him to do that within his own personality, and you can see this football team is definitely starting to have his name on it."

Final cut (3): Rodgers, Flynn and Brohm.

There's only one question: If Brohm suffers through another miserable preseason in which his one scoring "drive" netted 2 yards and a field goal, would the Packers dump him and look for a veteran?


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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 and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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