Graham Harrell: Why All the Support for the Green Bay Packers' Backup QB?

Bob FoxContributor IAugust 25, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 23: Graham Harrell #6 of the Green Bay Packers passes the football against the Cincinnati Bengals during a preseason NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 23, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Graham Harrell of the Green Bay Packers has completed 32-of-63 passes, for 261 yards, one TD and two interceptions. That gives Harrell a completion percentage of 50.8 and a QB rating of 53.7.

Not exactly gaudy numbers, huh?

Still, his friend and fellow QB Aaron Rodgers believes in Harrell. They have been teammates for two years now.

After the preseason game against the Cleveland Brown when Harrell struggled, Rodgers defended Harrell via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "I hope he plays very well," Rodgers said of Harrell. "I think he’s been doing a good job and probably unfairly taken some harsh criticism at times. I can tell you, like I said after the game, I don’t think anybody in this locker room or the coaching staff is worried about Graham or doesn’t have confidence in Graham.

"It’s the preseason. Some stuff can happen at times to make it difficult to be successful. I’ve been there before. I also had some good stretches where I put some good games together and I think Graham is capable of doing the same thing with that unit."

However, Harrell has taken part in just one of the Packers' vaunted quarterback schools, which they run every offseason. The Packers didn't sign Harrell until May of 2010, which was too late for the QB school that year.

Last season there was the labor strife between the players and the owners, and the QB school wasn't available. This year Harrell finally went to QB class at the school.

But Harrell's play on the field is still not eye opening, even after attending classes.

However, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is seeing improvement, as he talked about via

There’s still plenty of work to be done with three more practices. We have a game. Graham will play in that game and have more opportunities. Graham Harrell improved from the first two weeks. [In preseason Week 3 vs. the Bengals], he graded out higher than the first two weeks. He’s making improvement. I thought the second offensive line played better. As a whole, I thought the offense was one of our better performances of the preseason, but we still have work to do. In Graham’s particular case, I’m happy with his progress.


That being said, when McCarthy was asked whether Harrell is the No. 2 QB right now, he replied, "We don't make roster decisions today."

Granted, Harrell has played with the second- and third-string offensive-line units, along with the young WRs, but that doesn't excuse missing wide open receivers.

So...why does it seem that the Packers don't appear to be particularly worried about the backup QB role?

Perhaps it's the history of their starting QBs over the last 20 years.

Since Brett Favre first became a starting QB in 1992, the Packers have had only one game which their starting QB missed a game because of injury.

That period covers 317 games. That's right...317 games with only one game missed by a starting QB because of injury.

Still, the Packers have to be somewhat concerned. Rodgers likes to run on occasion, and it was on a run that Rodgers sustained his second concussion in the 2010 season, which caused him to miss a game.

Plus, the jury is still somewhat out on LT Marshall Newhouse, and it also looks as though the offensive line has very little depth after the starting five.

My guess is that the Packers will give Harrell some reps with the starting offensive line and some of the key WRs in the final preseason game, against the Kansas City Chiefs. If Harrell continues to struggle with that talent surrounding him, then look for a possible move.

In that case, Mike Holmgren should be expecting a call from his friend Ted Thompson to talk about a deal for Colt McCoy.