GREEN BAY, Wis. — Ten drives. One interception. One fumble. Eight consecutive punts. Zero points.
Those are the results of the Green Bay Packers’ three backup quarterbacks in a 17-0 preseason loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night.
Graham Harrell, Vince Young and B.J. Coleman were all unable to deliver many positive moments in their ongoing battle to become the Packers’ No. 2 quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers.
“I think they need to get comfortable,” Rodgers said. “Those guys need to get very comfortable on the field and play like it. And that’s about the things they’re thinking about pre-snap, their checks, and then the way they’re comfortable in the pocket. As you see in the preseason, there’s going to be some breakdowns in protection, you’re going to have to take some shots, and it’s about finding that rhythm in the offense and moving the team.”
Rodgers only played one series, a drive that ended with a failed fourth-down conversion at the goal line — though several Green Bay players were convinced that the challenge replay showed a touchdown.
Harrell got the first call off the bench and was on the field for the majority of the game. In Harrell’s six drives, however, the Packers totaled only 94 yards.
“I thought as far as the management of the game, he kept us in clean plays,” coach Mike McCarthy said of Harrell. “I thought he did a very good job of running the no-huddle. The conversion plays and the productivity and sustaining drives, that’s something we’re going to have to look at.”
Harrell’s first series ended with an interception. Looking for receiver Jeremy Ross on a short passing route, Harrell threw the ball right into the arms of Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson in what initially appeared to be miscommunication between the two.
“I think (Ross) got ran into by the safety,” Harrell said. “I think a guy picked him off. That’s what I was told. I should’ve moved off him. He kind of got jammed up and then he came in, and then another guy came in and hit him and that’s when I threw it.”
McCarthy noted that Harrell and Ross were both at fault on the interception.
Harrell’s next series wasn’t much better, though there wasn’t much he could have done about it. Right tackle Marshall Newhouse was quickly beat on a pass rush from linebacker John Abraham who crushed Harrell and caused a fumble.
Harrell exited the game late in the third quarter after completing 12 of 19 passes for 76 yards and a passer rating of 49.5.
“I think Graham has had a real good camp,” Rodgers said. “I think he’s made some good plays in practice. Tonight was obviously probably frustrating for him. But there were not a lot of opportunities out there. You just have to take care of the ball in the preseason.”
Harrell was even booed by a record Lambeau Field crowd of 73,738 after his final incompletion led to yet another punt. Harrell heard the dissatisfied fans, too.
“You always hear those,” Harrell said. “It’s part of the game. As an offense, we have to move the ball better. Especially in the first half, we did actually move the ball at times, we just couldn’t convert when we needed to.
“They paid to come. They can do what they want, I guess.”
Young’s Green Bay debut began with a ton of welcoming cheers from the crowd that had just finished jeering Harrell. Signed four days earlier, Young wasn’t working with a full playbook. McCarthy and Young found plays that might work easiest for him on short notice, but it didn’t lead to any points on the scoreboard.
“My goal with Vince was to get him about 10 or 12 snaps,” McCarthy said. “I just wanted to get him where he could go play quarterback. I thought he did some nice things. It was good to get him out there. He hasn’t played football in a year. Obviously, playing the quarterback position is a little different than playing other positions. I was happy to get him in the game, get him in the flow of the game, and definitely get him started.”
Young completed 1 of 3 passes for seven yards, but he also ran it twice for 12 yards.
“Whatever it takes to get a first down, I’m going to get it,” Young said. “I feel like my guys did a good job getting me on the edge, and guys made some key blocks for me to make sure I could get the first and get down.”
After Young’s two drives were over, he sat with Rodgers on the sideline and went over some plays. A couple minutes later, as Rodgers got off the bench, Young gave him a pat on the back that seemed like a sign of appreciation.
“I’ve known Aaron for a long time,” Young said. “He’s very smart.”
Coleman was the fourth and final Packers quarterback to get on the field, but he too didn’t have much success. Coleman’s two series netted only 17 yards and one first down, with Tim Masthay launching his seventh and eighth punts of the game.
“You have to look at the film (because) it’s never as good as it is, it’s never as bad as it is,” Coleman said. “We missed some things. Not necessarily particular throws or running it, we just were a little out of sync and you have to be able to get back in sync in terms of understanding the route adjustments or protection and you have to make plays.”
There was certainly no winner in Green Bay’s backup quarterback competition after one preseason game. While the Packers are confident that group will play better soon, McCarthy awaits to see which of them emerges as a dependable option behind Rodgers.