The Green Bay Packers were forced to thrust Scott Tolzien into starting action after more bad luck with injuries at the quarterback position, as Seneca Wallace went down with an injury after going 5-5 for 25 yards in the Packers first game without Aaron Rodgers. Wallace is now on the injured reserve, so Tolzien will get the start this week against the New York Giants after showing up well enough against the Philadelphia Eagles. He had two interceptions to just one touchdown, but he was making his first career start and probably received very little reps of significance in practice (the Packers almost certainly gave Wallace as many reps as possible).
Two of Tolzien’s teammates on defense are very familiar with facing him, as they went up against Tolzien in college as members of rival Big Ten schools. Cornerback Micah Hyde recalls Tolzien’s days in college back when Hyde was a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes, “He knows his reads and makes his throws, so when he had to go in the game, nobody was nervous for him or anything like that. He didn’t have a perfect game, but that’s going to happen. Everybody makes mistakes but I guarantee he learned from every one of those mistakes after watching it. He’ll be fine on Sunday.”
According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Weston Hodkiewicz, Hyde remembers how Tolzien bounced back in a rematch against Iowa by adjusting to what he saw last time. Now that Tolzien is going to get the vast majority of the reps and tape study this week, expect significantly better things from him. He’s not a good quarterback and isn’t close to being a legitimate starter, but it looks like Tolzien is well on his way to being the Packers key backup quarterback of the future behind Aaron Rodgers. Although the Wisconsin product isn’t anything special, he is solid enough to be a very capable backup QB for the Packers going forward.
Here’s what former Michigan State superstar DT Jerel Worthy said about Tolzien, “He’s just a lot better than what he was when he was at Wisconsin. Now he has the freedom to throw the ball out more. At Wisconsin, they like to run the ball a lot, but here he has freedom to throw the ball and ability to check and change plays and everything. I think he’s grown a lot. It’s exciting to see him actually go out there and play at this level. … I’m just excited to see how well he plays this week with a week of preparation.”
Wisconsin was- and is- definitely a ground-and-pound team, but the Packers also run the ball frequently with Eddie Lacy in tote and a capable backup in James Starks available as well. However, the Packers are also clearly more willing to allow Tolzien to challenge defenses when he wants to, and that’s important. His physical tools are clearly well below average, but quarterbacks always have to be willing to challenge defenses so that the opposition cannot just sit on short and intermediate routes (which seem to be Tolzien’s strong suits).