There are “a lot of balls still up in the air,” Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson said on Sunday, but for now, B.J. Coleman will be Aaron Rodgers’ backup quarterback.
Not that Vince Young played well during training camp and the preseason games, but the decision to go with Coleman over Young was the biggest surprise of Cutdown Saturday.
Coleman completed 41.2 percent of his passes, averaged 3.8 yards per attempt and had a passer rating of 49.6. Around the league, 115 players threw at least one pass. Coleman ranked 110th in accuracy, 108th in yards per attempt and 106th in passer rating.
Young wasn’t much better, with 53.1 percent accuracy, 4.4 yards per attempt and a rating of 71.6. His miserable performance against the Chiefs, with just two field goals to show for 11 possessions, was enough for Thompson to pull the plug on the Young Experiment.
“We felt like that’s where we were (and), quite frankly, it probably wasn’t fair to Vince,” Thompson said. “We threw a lot on his plate and the fault is probably mine. I probably should have had him in here earlier. He was a great teammate, he seemed like a very humble good guy -- you guys all talked to him -- so we enjoyed his time here. Like I say, if there was fault, it was probably mine.”
It’s hardly unusual for the Packers to go into a season with an unproven backup quarterback. When Rodgers took over in 2008, Thompson went with seventh-round pick Matt Flynn and second-round pick Brian Brohm as the backups. Thompson stuck with Flynn for 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Graham Harrell – who was signed by the Packers in 2011 but hadn’t taken a regular-season snap – stepped into the No. 2 role.
Now – for the moment, anyway – the Packers are going with Coleman, a seventh-round pick in 2012 who spent all of last year on the practice squad. The other option is Scott Tolzien, who as we reported on Saturday would be signing to the practice squad.
“Playing quarterback is an interesting thing,” Thompson said. “I think I’ve said this before in here, you don’t really know until you know. You’ve got to be put in the fire and see how everything works and the timing and the reactions and all the things that go into playing that position. It’s (an) extraordinarily difficult position to play well.”
Thompson, speaking in a generic sense, said the Packers are “actively pursuing” talent at every position, not just quarterback. There are plenty of options available – though not necessarily an attractive list. There are high-profile busts like Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart, Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow and JaMarcus Russell. There are journeymen like Seneca Wallace, David Carr and Trent Edwards. There are young players with some experience, such as Mike Kafka and John Skelton. And there are untested youngsters like Matt Scott and Alex Tanney.
The Packers could sign a quarterback at any moment. Or, they could wait until after Week 1, at which point a vested veteran’s contract wouldn’t be guaranteed. For now, though, the Packers are going with Coleman, who has made strides on the practice field but had a rough go of it in the games.
“Well, we think he has a good chance to do that,” Thompson said of winning games. “Again, there’s a lot of things that he hasn’t seen yet. He’s played in preseason games but never played in a regular-season game. We’re getting ready to tee it off, so we’re getting ready to play.”
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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.