Sun, Nov 17, 2013 at 1:24 AM
Packers 'still dangerous' even with Scott Tolzien under center
Not everyone is writing off the Green Bay Packers as they move on to their third starting quarterback in as many games.
"Still dangerous," a defensive coordinator for another NFL team told USA TODAY Sports, speaking on condition of anonymity for competitive reasons. "Great scheme and design."
MORE: Campbell seizing opportunity as Browns' QBn
Sure, it hurts that the Packers have gone from an MVP candidate (Aaron Rodgers) at quarterback to a career backup (Seneca Wallace) to a practice-squad call-up (Scott Tolzien) who will make his first NFL start, on the road, against the New York Giants on Sunday.
It also doesn't help they're down two key weapons (Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley) and their offensive line is banged up, to say nothing of their ongoing defensive issues.
MORE: Rice: Kaepernick's struggles are on short-handed WR coren
But Packers coach Mike McCarthy is one of the NFL's brightest offensive minds. He knows how to put people in position to have a chance — even a player like Tolzien, who showed positive signs in relief of Wallace in last week's loss to Philadelphia despite two damaging interceptions.
"He was calm," Packers halfback Eddie Lacy told USA TODAY Sports. "He knew the plays. He knew the calls. He knew everything. It is his first time out there, so maybe he was a little nervous. But overall, he did a great job."
WHIP AROUND: Previewing Week 11 gamesn
Tolzien — a heady 26-year-old Wisconsin product who spent the past two years as a third-stringer in San Francisco — doesn't have to carry a Rodgers-sized weight. But he will have to make enough plays to create some space for the Packers' running game.
Finding ways to make that happen may be the greatest challenge for McCarthy, 50, in his eight seasons as coach, especially with Rodgers out at least a couple more weeks with a broken collarbone and the pressure of a one-game deficit in the NFC North.
"It's going to be difficult, because the defenses we face are going to be different," Lacy said. "It's not going to be two-high (safeties). It's going to be one-high and eight are going to be in the box. It's difficult, but we just have to execute it."
Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelisseron
VIDEO: WHAT YOU CAN'T MISS THIS WEEKEND IN SPORTSn