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Arguing With Myself: Debating the Packers' Backup Quarterback Situation

The piece wherein I (surprise, surprise) argue both sides of the backup quarterback debate.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

You know your team is probably in pretty good shape if the biggest camp battles are at tight end, center, and backup quarterback.

Of those three positions, only a center is really an absolute requirement at all times, and that's probably the place where the projected winner is the most clear: J.C. Tretter.

Tight end looks to be fine as well, with third rounder Richard Rodgers and talented-but-troubled UDFA Colt Lyerla joining the mix, not to mention camp body-type guys like Justin Perillo. Oh, yeah, and the Super Bowl starter? Andrew Quarless is back, too.

And that leaves the backup quarterback position.

In one corner, we have Scott Tolzien, the physically gifted guy, the one with some running ability and a strong arm. He can spin his way around hapless Vikings defenders and he's exciting to watch. On the other hand, he's about as mistake-prone as they come.

In the other corner, we've got Matt Flynn, the ultimate system backup, a guy who's flopped everywhere else he's played, but somehow seems to fit in with the Green Bay offense. He helped dig the team out of the mess that Tolzien made, but how much of that turnaround can we credit to Flynn? He also had the worst game of either quarterback in the Thanksgiving stinker.

As you can tell, there are merits to each of these players, and there are drawbacks. Since I don't like being wrong (no, really, I abhor it), I'll take both sides!

Scott Tolzien Should Be The Backup (And Flynn Shouldn't)

At some point, Green Bay has to think deeper about the future of the backup position. Flynn is okay now, but once he reaches into his thirties, he's going to have a much tougher time getting the job done. It's not as if he has a cannon arm right now; what happens when age takes a toll on him (as it most certainly will)?

We're overrating Flynn's contributions to the team as well. The one good defense he faced was Detroit's, and even they have a suspect secondary. He got shelled. He missed open receivers. Jordy Nelson probably found out how Greg Jennings has felt for, say, the past year or so. Eddie Lacy was the clear centerpiece of the offense, and Matt was just along for the ride.

Looking at Tolzien, the potential is undeniable. He can throw with accuracy down the field (look back at the Giants game for his skill with the deep ball), he can scramble to get out of trouble, and with a year of training camp, he probably poses enough of a threat to keep teams from throwing eight-man boxes at Lacy and Starks all day. We also have to remember that he was a last-minute practice-squad signing before Week 1 last year; there were cynics, in fact, who believed that he'd be in Green Bay just long enough to provide Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers an inside edge on San Fran's plans. In other words, he hadn't even gone through one of McCarthy's annual "quarterback school" seminars, while Flynn has had this opportunity on multiple occasions. Even if we stipulate that Tolzien is slightly worse than Flynn right now, Flynn is at his ceiling and Tolzien is just getting started. My guess is that the Pack would rather be on the upslope than on the decline when it comes to a backup quarterback.

Matt Flynn Should Be The Backup (And Tolzien Shouldn't)

This is a team ready to win now. Sure, there are question marks at two D-line spots, tight end and center (and maybe left tackle I guess, if you're not a Bakhtiari fan.) But you've got to believe that guys like Bakhtiari and Datone Jones are poised to take the next step, like most successful players do in their second season. And when they do, Green Bay should be able to run with anyone in the league, Seahawks and Niners included. With that kind of team, why risk it all on Scott Tolzien? We look at that awesome run against Minny and assume that he's that kind of player. Well, let me tell you, I made the same mistake when I watched Case Keenum play against the Colts in the first half of their game in Houston last season. He looked brilliant. The guy seemed like a mini-version of Brett Favre. And then he collapsed and the team went searching for a new starter soon enough. Perhaps that game is a microcosm of Tolzien's stint. Just not good enough for long enough.

Flynn can win. It rhymes. He's done it before. Put a good team around him (which he'll have in Green Bay) and he can keep the team in games. Say what you want about Tolzien's 'potential', but this isn't a team looking four or five years down the road as the height of their Super Bowl window. The first one (2010-11) closed pretty suddenly, and the second one is opening now. Why potentially waste it by putting a turnover machine on the field should something happen to Rodgers?


Well, that's both sides of the argument as I see them, but perhaps I'm missing something. Please chime in below with your take (and let me know if I'm out of my mind in the comments section.)