‘Tis the season to lose your job. The NFL regular season is about to kick off and that means that teams have been rapidly preparing for their Week 1 tilts and, of course, finalizing their 53-man rosters. Most seasons there are some surprising developments on that front around the league with high-priced veterans being replaced with younger, cheaper players. Much of this was avoided this season with perhaps the biggest surprise being, simply, Vince Young’s failure to hold onto his job as the Green Bay Packers’ backup quarterback. And, truly, unless you’re a diehard fan of the Packers, this news was probably something less than noteworthy.
Let’s take a look at what happened, though. The Packers signed Vince Young, out of a job since the 2012 preseason, with only three weeks left in the preseason, muddying an already bleak picture behind starter and superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. To be fair, no one expected much. Coach Mike McCarthy’s offense is complex and difficult for anyone to learn, much less a player whose largest claim to fame is throwing his shoulder pads into the stands. What happened from there was a bit of surprise as Young played well enough to run Graham Harrell out of town and to the New York Jets. (A moment of silence please in remembrance of Harrell’s career.) Suddenly, fans were all agog over his running ability, his 130.7 passer rating in the third preseason game and millions of armchair quarterbacks were drafting designs for a Green Bay version of the Wildcat offense. The CheeseCat offense, if you will.
And then Kansas City happened. Young slugged through a 14 of 30 outing with only 144 passing yards and, less than three days later, he was back out on the street. Ted Thompson, the Packers’ GM, said that he had failed to give Young enough time to learn the offense, which seems ironic considering that by releasing Young the team suddenly had no backup quarterbacks who knew the offense at all. To the rescue comes Seneca Wallace, a former Seahawks and Browns quarterback who failed to beat Colt McCoy out of the starting job in Cleveland. The second coming of Rodgers, Wallace ain’t.
Was this the best move? Well, to answer that, let’s review Thompson’s other options on the free agent market:
Brady Quinn—another former Cleveland Brown, he has been run out of town in every city the poor guy has been in. Not exactly NFL material.
Matt Leinart—the man who made Kurt Warner a legend in the desert, Leinart’s career is probably over after failing to impress in Buffalo this preseason.
Dennis Dixon—he’s a younger and even less talented version of Young. This probably wouldn’t work.
Trent Edwards—to be honest, I didn’t even know he was still in the league.
David Carr—a former number one pick, the only lasting impression he has made in the NFL is on the turf. (Get it? Because he got sacked a lot.)
John Skelton—he’s just included on this list because he has a fun last name.
Greg McElroy—possibly the most capable candidate on the list, he got signed to the Bengal’s practice squad promptly.
Jimmy Clausen—there were rumors connecting Clausen to the Packers and, thanks be to God, they were untrue.
Tim Tebow—this pairing would have been fun, if not productive. At the very least, Tebow may have learned how to play quarterback during McCarthy’s quarterback school in the offseason. And, if you don’t trust Rodgers at the end of the game (Ha!), Tebow seems to remember how to win games only in the final couple of minutes always, so there’s that.
Vince Young—he just looked silly in the Packers’ green and gold. At least, that’s my reason for explaining why they released him.
So, Seneca Wallace it is. Because there’s nothing that inspires more confidence in your backup quarterback situation than entrusting it to a player who refused to play in the final preseason game with the 49ers because he didn’t want to get hurt. (True story.)
Now would be a great time for Aaron Rodgers to turn into Brett Favre and never miss another game.
Paul Michael Gilleland can be found on Twitter @PMichaelG and on his blog at gillelandfury.wordpress.com.