5 Reasons Scott Tolzien is the Green Bay Packers’ Best Quarterback Option Right Now
5 Reasons Why Green Bay Packers Can Win With Scott Tolzien
No one inside the Green Bay Packers' locker room will admit to panicking about starting Scott Tolzien this Sunday on the road against the New York Giants. Based on his performance this past weekend, players and coaches are right to have confidence in Tolzien's ability to lead the Packers to a victory in what is beginning to look like a must-win game with a team that the Packers have struggled against in recent years.
Tolzien is is the latest starter for a Green Bay team that had only started three quarterbacks since 1992. He is a third-year player who set the Wisconsin Badgers' single-season completion record in 2009 -- since broken -- and still holds the school record for career and single-season completion percentage.
All-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers is likely to miss at least two more games as he recovers from a fractured collarbone. Seneca Wallace did his best Uncle Rico impression for four quarters last Monday night but injured his groin at the start of the game this past Sunday. Now Tolzien is the last man standing.
Tolzien turned down an opportunity to join the Cleveland Browns' active roster just a few weeks ago, instead preferring to remain on the Packers' practice squad. That decision now looks like a stroke of genius, which is somewhat fitting given that Tolzien was an undrafted player who has been lauded for his mental approach and even-keeled demeanor but took knocks for his limited physical ability.
Coach Mike McCarthy named Tolzien the starter this week, and the team brought back an old flame to serve as his backup. Matt Flynn apparently couldn't make it past the first round of "Survivor", let alone start for some of the worst franchises in the league. However, he is back in Green Bay after a two-year hiatus. Flynn knows the playbook, coaching staff and most of the players around him. Some fans are clamoring for him to be the man in Green Bay until Mr. Discount Double-Check returns, but here are the top five reasons why Tolzien should be the starting quarterback over Flynn.
5. Performance Given the Circumstances
Tolzien was running plays last week that he had never practiced as a member of the Packers, but on Sunday he was still able to move the ball down the field effectively, if not productively. He finished 24-of-39 for 280 yards and a touchdown despite the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles knew that the Packers had to pass to catch up. In the process, Tolzien showed some moxie, escaping pressure once and running for a 19-yard gain while moving up in the pocket a few other times to improve throwing angles.
4. Brains and Decisiveness
Tolzien rarely looked nervous or skittish in the pocket despite making his first career regular-season appearance. He made the correct read on a deep sideline pass after the Eagles jumped offside and put it in a place where only Jarret Boykin could make the play.
"He plays fast. He's decisive," Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said of Tolzien. "He sees what's happening, makes quick decisions, generally gets it to the right guy, and that's a good quality for a quarterback."
3. A Lifetime of Resiliency
Tolzien's coach at William Fremd High School described him as "just your average kid." He didn't start for his high school team until his junior year, and he threw seven interceptions in his second game. Even after he set several career passing records at his high school he was just a two-star recruit. It's easy to sense the theme here.
He didn't have a scholarship offer from Wisconsin on National Signing Day, and although he eventually got a scholarship to play for the Badgers he didn't start a game until his fourth year in Madison.
Now, after going undrafted and spending time on the practice squads of both the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers, it is clear that Scott Tolzien is a resilient young man that has earned his opportunity.
2. Matt Flynn is Not Completely Healthy
Matt Flynn has had issues with elbow tendonitis since at least August of 2012 when he was with the Seattle Seahawks. It is unclear as to whether the injury has played a major part in Flynn's struggle to keep a starting spot over the past 18 months, but it isn't too farfetched to believe that it played a major factor.
If Flynn isn't healthy, why did the Packers sign him? Seneca Wallace was placed on season-ending IR Monday, meaning that Green Bay had to sign another quarterback to back up Tolzien. Flynn was the best option among a pitiful group of free agents, and his prior knowledge of the offense will make it easy for him to step into a game if he is forced into action. Green Bay is in the thick of a playoff chase and couldn't take a chance on an unknown backup quarterback. The nation saw a few weeks ago what happens when a quarterback plays a full game without knowing the playbook, and Josh Freeman may never be the same after that debacle. Flynn was the natural choice for Green Bay, although he may be physically limited at the moment.
1. Flynn Has Already Had His Fair Share of Opportunities
Flynn has been given every chance in the past two seasons to win the starting job for two different teams, and he was unable to keep his grip on the position. Perhaps Flynn is a slow learner and found success in Green Bay during his prior stint with the Packers because he had a long time to absorb the playbook. Perhaps Flynn needs a coach that is a quarterback guru. Whatever the case, Flynn hasn't been able to replicate the magic he conjured up at the end of the 2011 season.
He can't really be blamed for losing a job to Russell Wilson, who has become an elite quarterback, but it is telling that Flynn couldn't outperform Terrelle Pyror this past August, especially after Pryor admitted that he had just learned how to throw a football properly. The league knows Flynn's shortcomings, and Flynn hasn't shown that he can correct what ails him. Conversely, Tolzien's lack of game film means that the Giants will have a difficult time preparing for him. Furthermore, Tolzien showed in his first game that he is able to come back from poor plays to lead his team to the end zone. He deserves the chance to lead his team to a win on Sunday.
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