Monday Musings: Backup QBs
It was embarrassing listening to Matt LaFleur plead with fans to stop chanting “Go Pack Go” and doing the wave while Green Bay is on offense. Either the people in the stands aren’t as sophisticated as they were in the past, or maybe it’s time to stop selling alcohol at Lambeau. Here are three more Packers-related thoughts that ran through my mind recently:
1) As I watched Kurk Benkert on Saturday, the image of Doug Pederson kept popping into my head. Not the Super Bowl-winning head coach, but the backup quarterback who played 10 seasons for Green Bay, Miami, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Benkert has that type of career in the NFL. While more talented than Pederson, the fourth-year pro from Virginia isn’t good enough to be a starter, but he has all the intangibles teams look for in a No. 3 QB. He’s smart, prepared, and maybe most important of all, he seems to be well-liked by his teammates. One of the reasons Pederson lasted so long in Green Bay was his extremely close bond with Brett Favre. Benkert already appears to have a good relationship with Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love. In fact, he might be the perfect person to have around in ’22 should Love take over the starting job. Whether Benkert is part of the final 53 is very much up in the air, but I fully expect him to be around the team in some capacity for the next few seasons.
2) It was only one play, but watching Corey Davis of the Jets beat Eric Stokes on an in route reminded me why I projected Green Bay’s No. 1 pick as a mid to late second-rounder. There’s no question the speedy cornerback has the skill set to be a starter at this level, but he’ll have to figure out a way to stay with quality wide receivers in the middle of the field if he’s going to be more than just a Kevin King-type player. Stokes has some tightness in his hips that affects his transitional quickness and leaves him vulnerable to certain routes. Plenty of college corners have overcome this weakness to become outstanding pros. Marlon Humphrey comes to mind immediately. But plenty of others wind up like King, or even worse, Josh Jackson. The Packers have missed on a lot of corners in the early rounds since 2015; it’s up to Stokes, coordinator Joe Barry, and secondary coach Jerry Gray to make sure this one works out.
Stokes’ tight hips aren’t the only problem on this particular play, but it’s one of the reasons he couldn’t cover Davis despite the 10-yard cushion
3) I can’t remember the GM who said it or even the sport for that matter, but I do remember the person’s exact words: “What the hell was the assistant doing while his boss was failing?” He asked that question while explaining to the media why he’d never promote an assistant to replace a fired coach? It’s really hard to argue with that way of thinking, and yet Green Bay keeps promoting the assistant to every failed special teams coordinator. It didn’t work when Shawn Slocum replaced Mike Stock in 2009 or when Ron Zook replaced Slocum in 2015. Maurice Drayton, who spent the past two seasons under Shawn Mennenga, will try to break that disturbing trend. Based on the past couple of weeks, he has work to do. The Packers gave up long returns against both Houston and the Jets.
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