Quarterback play (or lack thereof)

On Sept. 20, 1992, Brett Favre, for whom the Packers had traded one of their two first-round picks in that year’s NFL draft, replaced injured starting quarterback Don Majkowski.

You know what happened thereafter.

Favre, now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was replaced at quarterback by Aaron Rodgers, who someday will join Favre in the Hall of Fame.

Except for games where Rodgers was kept out due to injury in 2010 and 2013 (six starts by Matt Flynn — one of which was a coach’s decision in 2011 — plus two starts by Scott Tolzien and one start by Seneca Wallace), Favre or Rodgers have been the starting Packer quarterbacks for 25 years.

In contrast, here is the list of other NFC North teams’ starting quarterbacks since 1992:

Da Bears (one Super Bowl appearance since 1992): Jim Harbaugh, Peter Tom Willis, Will Furrer, Steve Walsh, Erik Kramer, Dave Krieg, Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom, Moses Moreno, Shane Matthews, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Chris Chandler, Henry Burris, Kordell Stewart, Rex Grossman, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Jonathan Quinn, Kyle Orton, Brian Griese, Jay Cutler, Todd Collins, Caleb Hanie, Josh McCown, Jason Campbell, Jimmy Clausen, Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley.

Detroit (zero Super Bowl appearances): Rodney Peete, Erik Kramer, Andre Ware, Scott Mitchell, Dave Krieg, Don Majkowski, Charlie Batch, Frank Reich, Gus Frerotte, Stoney Case, Ty Detmer, Mike McMahon, Joey Harrington, Jeff Garcia, Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky, Daunte Culpepper, Matthew Stafford, Drew Stanton, Shaun Hill.

Minnesota (zero Super Bowl appearances since 1976): Rich Gannon, Wade Wilson, Sean Salisbury, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culpepper, Todd Bouman, Spergon Wynn, Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Brett Favre (who?), Joe Webb, Christian Ponder, Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford, Shaun Hill.

Fans of NFC North teams think Da Bears have the historically worst quarterback situation. Back in 2007, when Grossman was about to be replaced, Keith Olbermann called Da Bears’ “Quarterblackhole” (as I saw on social media last week) “one of the NFL’s great unrecognized traditions. With brief interruptions of stability from the likes of Jim McMahon and Billy Wade, this job has been unsettled since Sid Luckman retired. There has always been a Rex Grossman, he has always underperformed, and they have always been about to replace him.” About six interceptions from now Bears fans will be screaming to get Glennon out, and six interceptions later they’ll be screaming to get Trubisky out.

But it’s not been much better in Minnesota or Detroit during the Favre/Rodgers era either. Stafford is now the NFL’s highest paid player. His career record as a starting quarterback is 51–58. After Bridgewater got hurt the Vikings used a first-round draft pick to get Bradford, and ended up missing the playoffs last year. Da Bears spent big money to get Mike Glennon from Tampa Bay, then used a number-one draft choice to draft Mitch Trubisky. As is the case with teams with bad quarterback situations, the most popular Bear or Viking is probably whoever is their backup quarterback.

It’s  amusing to note how many quarterbacks played for more than one Packer divisional opponent (Kramer, Krieg, Frerotte, McMahon, Culpepper and Hill) with non-positive results, as well as the number of ex-Packer quarterbacks (Burris, Majkowski and Favre) twice-yearly opponents tried out and failed with.

Packer fans should remember this wasn’t the way things used to be. Between Super Bowl II and Favre’s first Packer season, the Packers used Bart Starr, Zeke Bratkowski, Don Horn, Scott Hunter, Jerry Tagge, Jim Del Gaizo, Jack Concannon, John Hadl, Don Milan, Lynn Dickey, Carlos Brown (who later became actor Alan Autry), Randy Johnson, David Whitehurst, Randy Wright, Jim Zorn, Alan Risher (the 1987 NFL strike replacement QB), Anthony Dilweg, Blair Kiel and Mike Tomczak.

Hadl was procured in the infamous “Lawrence Welk” trade, where the Packers traded “a-one and-a-two and-a-three” (actually, five draft picks to get Hadl and a player and two more draft picks to get rid of Hadl). That fits in every list of the worst trades in NFL history.

I’m predicting a 10–6 season for the Packers, whose schedule starts out pretty tough. I hope the free-agent acquisitions shore up last season’s leaky defense. Regardless of their record, though, as with Badger fans, Packer fans need to realize they have it much better here than elsewhere in the NFC North.


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