Circling back on backup quarterbacks

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
10:40
AM ET
Based on mailbag notes, Twitter mentions and Facebook comments, it appears you spent a good part of last week hashing through Matt Williamson's assessment of the NFC North's backup quarterbacks. (Here's a handy link to all four posts if you missed them.)

This kind of analysis is subjective, and Matt's credentials as a former NFL scout supersede anything I can offer. With that said, I'll weigh in on a few of your comments, complaints and criticisms.

There were many protests of Williamson's decision to slap the Green Bay Packers' backup situation with the lowest rating among all 32 teams. He referred to Graham Harrell, the presumptive No. 2, as "a far cry from having Matt Flynn" and added: "[F]rankly, they should be keeping their eyes open for another option before training camp starts."

TheChainsawNinja expressed your objections this way: "The Packers needed an upgrade at backup quarterback in 2010, then Flynn started against New England and all of a sudden we had one of the most reliable backups in the game. The Packers have one of the best scouting departments in the league, finding the most underrated talent, and by far the best QB development program in the NFL. If [Ted]Thompson and [Mike] McCarthy are willing to bet on Harrell, then Harrell must be a whole lot better than many are giving him credit for."

I understand where the concern is coming from. The Packers seem prepared to elevate a practice-squad quarterback to one of the more important positions on a team. But you're right. The same things were said in 2008 about Flynn when he was a rookie seventh-round draft pick. The Packers did a nice job developing him and deserve at least a little leeway -- especially in the spring -- with their assessment of Harrell.

Most important, Harrell appears to have responded well to the challenge thus far. He reported to organized team activities (OTAs) after adding 14 pounds to his frame through intense winter workouts. Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that Harrell is throwing with better velocity and is having a "nice spring."

McCarthy no doubt has a biased view and would be unlikely to levy criticism at this point even if it were deserving. But at this point, I think it's fair to let the situation marinate and develop before drawing any conclusions.

Ben of Brainerd wanted to know who, in fact, will be the Minnesota Vikings' backup quarterback: Sage Rosenfels or Joe Webb. Coach Leslie Frazier strongly implied in February that it would be Webb, saying: "You're just one injury away from having to play with your backup. Joe is to me an outstanding guy in that role."

That comment came before the Vikings signed Rosenfels, but the assumption around the team is Webb will have the No. 2 role. If he weren't, it stands to reason the Vikings would be looking for other positions to play Webb, an experiment Frazier ruled out this winter.

I can't offer much more on Williamson's assessment of the Chicago Bears' Jason Campbell or Detroit Lions' Shaun Hill. In many ways they are ideal backups: Veterans who have been starters and have a résumé long enough to inspire confidence that they can run an offense. The Bears' and Lions' situations are as good as any in the NFL.

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