There is a second level to the Green Bay Packers' reputation for well-designed offense and quarterback development. The Packers haven't simply had elite starters in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. They've also produced backups who went on to earn or challenge for starting jobs elsewhere, from Mark Brunell to Matt Hasselbeck to Aaron Brooks to, most recently, Matt Flynn.
Many of those examples predate the current regime of coach Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator Tom Clements and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. At the same time, I think we're about to learn if there are limits to this franchise's ability to coax winning quarterback play.
Veteran Seneca Wallace will start Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and, presumably, until Rodgers returns from a fractured collarbone in about a month. Wallace, 33, was out of football last season and his longevity is based as much on his skills as a multi-positional player than it was a belief that he could or should play quarterback for an extended period of time.
He has started 21 games over eight seasons and lost 15 of them, including seven of his past eight. As the chart shows, Wallace is tied for the third-worst winning percentage as a starter of all active quarterbacks. He was largely ineffective after replacing Rodgers in Monday night's 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears, producing a Total QBR of 7.7 (out of 100), managing 114 yards on 19 attempts.
McCarthy has stressed the benefits of a week spent taking first-team repetitions, but Wallace will have to improve substantially over his career body of work to keep the Packers in playoff contention. He has never thrown for more than 261 yards in a game and on only two occasions has he thrown more than two touchdown passes in a game.
"You have to make sure that your plan is intact to win the game," McCarthy said earlier this week, "and Seneca will run that plan. And I'm confident that he'll do an excellent job at it."
That plan almost certainly will rely on the Packers' newfound running game, but they'll be facing an Eagles team that scored 49 points last week against the Oakland Raiders. Chances are high the Packers will need at least some passing success to score enough points to win Sunday.
"Obviously I'm not going to be Aaron Rodgers," Wallace told reporters. "He's been doing great things here for years. My job is to try go in and maintain things at a good level and win some ballgames until he gets back good and healthy. That's my job."
Note: As you might have noticed in the earlier Double Coverage post, I'm filling in for a few days for Packers reporter Rob Demovsky. Obviously I'm not in Green Bay to provide minute-to-minute updates, but here are a few important injury notes on this Thursday afternoon:
Linebacker Clay Matthews participated in practice for the second consecutive day. McCarthy indicated that Matthews is still experimenting with the right type and size of protective club, but it seems as though he is on track to play at least a portion of Sunday's game.
Right guard T.J. Lang (concussion) missed a second consecutive day of practice. McCarthy said Lang is improving, but obviously Lang has not been fully cleared to practice yet. You would like to see him get some work Friday if he is going to play Sunday.