Green Bay Packers: Andrew Quarless can’t be the saviour


The Green Bay Packers are due to return tight end Andrew Quarless to their lineup, but don’t confuse this with a significant boost for the struggling offense

Packers tight end Andrew Quarless has been on the shelf since week three of the season with a knee injury, but after being activated from the injured reserve, it’s possible the veteran could return to action against the Detroit Lions. Quarless can certainly be another hand pulling on the rope, but it’s a mistake to consider him any sort of “fix” for this struggling Green Bay Packers offense.

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Quarless will be pleased to turn the calendar to 2016, coming off his injury and recently being charged for an incident on July 4th in Florida where Quarless fired a gun in public. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an NFL suspension handed down now that the legal process has run its course.

In the two-plus games prior to his injury, Quarless was a ghost. He posted straight zeroes in weeks one and two before grabbing two passes for 14 yards in week three, so even given the struggles at tight end, his ceiling doesn’t appear to be much higher. Quarless has ridden on a strange level of perceived potential that he’s consistently failed to bring to a reality. Now in his sixth professional season, Quarless has yet to eclipse 1000 career yards and has produced just six touchdowns.

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At the same time, Green Bay is desperate for any boost in athleticism at the position. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky took a great look at this earlier in the week, as Richard Rodgers and his 7.33 yards-per-reception would mark just the second time since 1968 that Green Bay’s starting tight end would average below 8.00. To his credit, Quarless has a career average of 10.6.

“That’s always been a thing that we focus on every single year, it’s been yards after contact,” tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot told Demovsky. “We haven’t been as good as we have been in previous years. That seemed to be something that Jermichael was especially good at. Our expectations were high, and I think we’re very capable of breaking tackles and gaining extra yardage and to do it to the best of our ability is all we ask.”

Essentially, the necessary offensive turnaround can’t rely on tight end play. Green Bay’s Week 12 loss to the Bears saw only Randall Cobb and Davante Adams record receptions from the wide receiving group, with Adams being a detriment to the offense throughout the game. This offense is congested and desperately in need of wide receivers that can spread opposing secondaries thinner, thus offering lesser coverage to all of Aaron Rodgers‘ targets. The tight end position won’t be a great asset in that quest.

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Randall Cobb is still fighting to take full flight, but the depth behind him has battled injuries and inconsistency. Jeff Janis continues to have some of the more curious usage in the National Football League, while James Jones can disappear without coverage drawn deep and away from him. Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery could return from injury in time to impact this season, but they cannot be considered the saviour either.

If Quarless truly was a Gronkowski-tier tight end, as he once brilliantly declared himself, this would be a different conversation. But this Packers offense has been stuck in an average production cycle with average performances and ugly play-calling. It’s going to take a whole lot more than Andrew Quarless.