Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Air-tight support for Graham Harrell
By Kevin Seifert
Last Friday, we discussed one of the Green Bay Packers' options for replacing backup quarterback Graham Harrell -- if Harrell's shaky preseason moved the Packers to do so. Judging from what we've heard from the Packers since then, it appears Harrell is as safe as he could possibly be at this point.
Graham Harrell seems to be firmly entrenched as the Packers backup quarterback.
That doesn't mean the Packers have ruled out a change. But they sure aren't anywhere close to looking elsewhere after two preseason outings that left Harrell with a 55.6 passer rating. Coach Mike McCarthy said over the weekend that Harrell graded out higher than the public might realize, and Harrell has received support from all corners of the organization since then.
Tuesday, general manager Ted Thompson told reporters: "I know there's been a lot of criticism. I think Mike mentioned that he graded out much better than you might expect. It's not always easy doing the second half of a preseason game when the chaos is coming at you pretty good. He's doing OK. ... He's a very hard worker. He really likes playing the game of football. He knows the nuances of playing that position. We have faith in a lot of our guys."
"That unit has to play better," Rodgers told reporters. "The front, they have not played very well. And at the skill positions there have been some poor play as well. You have to have guys around you making plays and [Harrell] has to do a better job decision-making and making the throws he knows he can make."
By all accounts, Rodgers' support for Harrell is genuine.
"I hope he plays very well," Rodgers said. "I think he's been doing a good job and probably unfairly taken some harsh criticism at times. I can tell you, like I said after the game, I don't think anybody in this locker room or the coaching staff is worried about Graham or doesn't have confidence in Graham. It's the preseason. Some stuff can happen at times to make it difficult to be successful. I've been there before. I also had some good stretches where I put some good games together and I think Graham is capable of doing the same thing with that unit."
Here's quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo: "He can run the offense, he can lead, he can be consistent and he can make the throws. I'm 100 percent confident he can go out and do that."
And offensive coordinator Tom Clements: "We've been happy with Graham. Sometimes it's just looking at the game and the situation he's in. Everyone focuses on, if the offense isn't successful it's the quarterback's fault. That isn't necessarily the case. He's missed a few throws, but a lot of times he’s made good throws and he's had to avoid people. He's doing a good job and we’re happy with his progress."
It's routine for NFL players and coaches to express support for each other. But what the Packers have done is more than simply express support for Harrell, a good guy that everyone is rooting for. They've gone out of their way to make sure we know that at least some of what we've seen this summer isn't Harrell's fault. Whether you agree or not, it should reiterate to you that the Packers really don't want anyone other than Graham Harrell to be their backup quarterback this season.