Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Packers prepare for another backup QB
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For the third straight week, the Green Bay Packers are preparing for a quarterback they probably did not expect to face.
Is that a disadvantage for the Packers?
It hasn’t been so far. They beat both the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings -- two teams that were forced to change quarterbacks because of injuries.
They face the same task Monday night at Lambeau Field against the Chicago Bears.
However, the Bears, coming off their bye week, have had plenty of time to prepare veteran backup Josh McCown for Monday night. McCown, who finished the Oct. 20 loss to Washington after Jay Cutler sustained a torn groin muscle, will make his first start since the 2011 regular-season finale.
Here’s a look at how the opposing quarterback dynamics have changed over the past three weeks:
Who the Packers thought they’d face: Cutler, under new coach Marc Trestman, was off to a solid start. With a passer rating of 91.7, he was on pace for the best mark of his career. Trestman was hired in large part because of his work with quarterbacks, and he made an immediate impact on Cutler, who had only one game with more than two interceptions this season. Other than his three-interception game in a 40-32 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 4, Cutler had largely avoided those disastrous stretches that have plagued him during his tenure as the Bears’ starter. The Packers will likely still see Cutler this season. They don’t play the Bears again until the regular-season finale on Dec. 29, and Cutler is expected to return well before that game.
Who they will face: The 34-year-old McCown, a third-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, is not a complete stranger to the Packers. He started for the Bears at Lambeau Field on Christmas night 2011, only a month after he was signed following a thumb injury to Cutler. In a 35-21 Packers victory, McCown threw one touchdown and two interceptions. He has played in only two regular-season games since then, including 2½ quarters this season against the Redskins after Cutler’s injury. In relief, McCown completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for passer rating of 119.6 -- his highest mark in a game since Dec. 2, 2007.
Who the Packers thought they’d face: The Monday night before the Packers’ Oct. 27 game at Minnesota, the Vikings turned over the offense to Josh Freeman, who had been signed two weeks earlier. Though Freeman was horrific in his debut, completing just 20 of 53 passes in a 23-7 loss to the New York Giants, he was expected to start against the Packers until it was discovered after the fact that he sustained a concussion in the loss to the Giants.
Who they faced: The Vikings decided to go back to opening day starter Christian Ponder rather than veteran Matt Cassel, who led them to their only win this season. The Packers had plenty of film on Ponder, who took over as the Vikings’ starter on Oct. 23, 2011, against Green Bay and held the job through the first four games of this season. In perhaps his last shot to regain the starting job, Ponder was ineffective against the Packers on Sunday, throwing for just 145 yards on 14-of-21 without a touchdown or an interception in the Packers’ 44-31 victory.
Who the Packers thought they’d face: The Browns had seemingly resurrected their season when they benched starter Brandon Weeden in favor of journeyman Brian Hoyer. After an 0-2 start with Weeden, the Browns went to Hoyer. He won his first two starts but then sustained a torn ACL in his third start, an Oct. 3 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Who they faced: Weeden came on in relief and led the Browns to a win over the Bills and then was named the starter against the Lions on Oct. 13, the week before the Browns came to Green Bay. Weeden lost to the Lions and then was so bad against the Packers, throwing two interceptions while completing just 17 of 42 passes, that the Browns benched him in favor of Jason Campbell the following week.