Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy offered a tepid reaction to Graham Harrell’s standing as the team’s No. 2 quarterback following Thursday night’s 35-10 loss to Cleveland.
With another night of dismal production for Harrell, is he ready to be one injury away from piloting a Super Bowl contender?
“That’s why we’re in the preseason,” McCarthy said on Friday. “We haven’t picked the team today. We’ll take all four games, like we do every year, and we’ll let the process determine the full roster and Graham’s part of that process.
Harrell completed just 12-of-24 passes for 100 yards, with the offense failing to score until his ninth possession. It wasn’t all his fault, of course. He was exonerated on both interceptions, the No. 2 offensive line “needs to play better,” McCarthy said, and the receivers had a difficult time beating the Browns’ press coverage.
“I would say Graham probably graded out higher than the perception of the questions or how people felt that he played,” McCarthy said. “The quarterbacks are graded in detail. There’s some throws that he missed. The two interceptions – we call it ‘rebound pass,’ some people call it a ‘Hail Mary’ -- No one should come down with that football, other than a Green Bay Packer. He had pressure coming off the back side and wasn’t able to pull up for the throw. The naked is clearly on the receiver falling down. I gave him an accurate throw on that particular play. He’s growing. He’s getting a full dose of what it’s like to play and more things went wrong, unfortunately, than normal, and we need to do a better job as an offense and he will do a better job leading us.”
His first eight drives on Thursday went as follows:
-- Punt, no first downs, minus-5 yards.
-- Punt, one first down, 15 yards.
-- Punt, no first downs, 0 yards.
-- Missed field goal, no first downs, 9 yards.
-- Interception, no first downs, no yards (Hail Mary).
-- Interception, one first down, 17 yards (receiver falls).
-- Punt, one first down, 24 yards.
-- Safety, no first downs, minus-16 yards.
At that point, Harrell was a woeful 8-of-19 for 38 yards. The Browns had scored more points on Harrell’s possessions (nine, with a pick-six and a safety) than the Packers had first downs (three).
Finally, on Harrell’s ninth series, he got into something resembling a rhythm as he went 4-of-5 for 62 yards. The Packers went 59 yards in eight plays, with Harrell getting first downs with completions of 25 and 24 yards to undrafted rookie receiver Jarrett Boykin. The drive, however, died when Harrell missed Andrew Brewer in the end zone on second-and-4 and Marc Tyler was stuffed for a 2-yard loss on third-and-4. Mason Crosby nailed a 42-yard field goal.
“I don’t know,” Harrell said after the game when asked his response to the growing legion of doubters. “I’d like to say we’ll evaluate tomorrow what happened today. We’d like to score more points. That’s the key, is to score points and finish drives. We didn’t do that tonight. We’re always confident in ourselves. It’s not like I’ll ever lose confidence in myself. I’m fine. Like I said, we’ll evaluate the film tomorrow, see what happened and try to improve from it.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.