Packers Annual Checkup: Scott Tolzien
FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
Scott Tolzien, quarterback
Season stats: Three games (two starts); 55-for-90 passing (61.1 percent), 717 yards, one touchdown, five interceptions, 66.8 passer rating; sacked three times, zero fumbles; five rushing attempts for 55 yards, one touchdown
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 0.1 (ranked No. 12 out of 23 Packers offensive players; ranked No. 2 among Green Bay’s four quarterbacks)
Best game: Week 11 loss at New York Giants; 24-for-34 passing (70.6 percent), 339 yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions, 65.7 passer rating; sacked zero times; 2.1 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 12 tie vs. Minnesota; 7-for-17 passing (41.2 percent), 98 yards, zero touchdowns, zero interceptions, 60.4 passer rating; sacked twice; minus-1.2 PFF rating)
Expectations at the start of the season: Low
Expectations were … Exceeded
Looking live: After four preseason games and more than five weeks of training camp practices, the Packers decided that none of their quarterbacks aside from Aaron Rodgers deserved a spot on the active roster — or even on the practice squad. On Sept. 2, 2013, Green Bay released B.J. Coleman (one week after also cutting ties with Graham Harrell and Vince Young) and signed Seneca Wallace to be the No. 2 quarterback and added Scott Tolzien to the practice squad. The question surrounding Tolzien at the time was whether the Packers signed him just to gain some knowledge from his two years with the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay’s Week 1 opponent. "You go in hoping that it’s not that," Tolzien said at the time. "But that’s out of my control." It was just one week earlier that the 49ers released Tolzien, but coach Mike McCarthy was selling the idea that he was genuinely interested in him as a long-term piece of the franchise. "I think he’s an excellent fit for us," McCarthy said on Sept. 2, 2013. "I really felt his preseason tape of this year and last year was impressive, in particular this year. . . . We feel fortunate that Scott is here." The Packers gave Tolzien a big raise in late October 2013 after he was receiving interest from the Cleveland Browns. But just a week after that, Green Bay promoted Tolzien to the active roster. "I don’t want to be cliche, but you live for a moment like this," Tolzien said on Nov. 6. And that comment was made without knowing what was about to happen in his young career.
Upon further review: Four days after being called up from the practice squad, Tolzien was thrown into action against the Philadelphia Eagles after Wallace suffered a groin injury. Stepping onto Lambeau Field was a special moment for Tolzien, who grew up a Packers fan in northern Illinois despite the rest of his family being Bears fans. The stadium where he watched Brett Favre from the stands in 1998 was now the venue in which he was hoping to lead Green Bay to victory. Tolzien was solid in his NFL debut, especially for a quarterback who was technically the third-stringer just a week earlier. McCarthy didn’t have many options, but he was confident enough in Tolzien that he named the former Wisconsin Badger as the Packers’ starter heading into Week 11. "I thought Scott did a hell of a job (against Philadelphia)," McCarthy said on Nov. 10. "I thought his game management, especially for the amount of preparation he had going into this game, was outstanding." Tolzien started Green Bay’s next two games, and the individual results were quite different. In his first start (at the New York Giants), Tolzien did many things right, but his major flaw was that he threw three interceptions. It’s difficult to sell the idea that a quarterback performed well "if not for three interceptions," because nothing destroys offensive flow like turnovers, but that truly was the story with Tolzien that day. A week later, Tolzien wasn’t nearly as composed or efficient, but at least he didn’t commit a turnover. In addition to that, his running spin move for a touchdown will likely be the highlight of his career. It was a spectacular play. But his passing wasn’t there in that game against Minnesota, and he was benched in the second half in favor of Matt Flynn. Tolzien didn’t see the field the rest of the season.
Overall 2013 grade: C-plus
Status for 2014: Thirty percent chance of being on Green Bay’s active roster to begin the 2014 regular season. As of right now (April 8, 2014), Tolzien is one of only two quarterbacks under contract with the Packers. With Rodgers being the other, that puts Tolzien as No. 2 on the depth chart. But it remains possible that Green Bay re-signs Flynn, and McCarthy also mentioned his desire to draft a quarterback. Either one of those moves could push Tolzien off the 2014 active roster. However, the Packers could also keep three quarterbacks on their active roster, meaning it would take the combination of both Flynn re-signing and the drafting of a QB to nudge Tolzien down to the No. 4 spot. McCarthy clearly likes Tolzien a lot, and that’s a very important endorsement to have.
Next: Offensive lineman J.C. Tretter
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