Green Bay - Brian Brohm's failure to perform anywhere near commensurate with a second-round draft choice has left the Green Bay Packers looking at few good options behind Aaron Rodgers.
Obviously, the jury remains out on Rodgers. If it turns out that he can't play, the Packers will be starting all over again.
But entering the exhibition finale tonight against Tennessee, the Packers find themselves in an even more unenviable position at backup quarterback.
They know Rodgers' injury history and scrambling style suggest he won't be able to last 16 games. In the Brett Favre era, not many in the organization even thought twice about the No. 2 quarterback. They do now, or at least they better.
The problem is Brohm.
Ted Thompson made the decision last winter that he didn't want Trent Green, Josh McCown, Billy Volek, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Mark Brunell, David Carr or Quinn Gray, among other free agents.
Shortly before the draft, Thompson made a lukewarm offer of one-year, $1 million to Daunte Culpepper knowing full well he wouldn't take it. He would have been a terrible fit anyway.
Thompson also had the opportunity to acquire Sage Rosenfels from the Houston Texans in exchange for a second-round pick.
Thompson evaluated all the veterans and reached the conclusion that he would prefer drafting two players from what the Packers regarded as a good class of quarterbacks. That took guts, but it made some sense because dipping into the recycling bin generally isn't a great idea.
Not going after Rosenfels was an entirely different matter.
Rosenfels, the backup to Matt Schaub, has improved steadily for eight years. In five starts last season (84.8 passer rating), several scouts say he demonstrated starting ability.
Perhaps the Packers figured Rosenfels was too good and might overshadow Rodgers. More likely, Thompson absolutely refused to part with a second-round pick.
For a second-round choice, the Packers would have been purchasing stability at the key position. There's a price to be paid for a veteran quarterback capable of winning games, but Thompson wouldn't pay it.
After acquiring the No. 56 pick in the trade for Corey Williams, Thompson took Brohm. Four slots later in the second, he took cornerback Pat Lee. The way it looks now, neither player will contribute much in 2008.
Most personnel people would agree that with the 56th pick a team should be able to secure its No. 2 quarterback position. But after five weeks of practice it's becoming more and more clear that Brohm isn't up to the task.
All summer, Thompson and the coaches have been giving Brohm the benefit of the doubt, but in the last week or so his game has taken a turn for the worse. Instead of throwing the ball with confidence, he started aiming it.
Brohm seemed exasperated with himself just as the coaches seemed exasperated with him.
So tonight, after Rodgers and most of the starters exit midway in the first quarter, Brohm has the thankless assignment of standing behind the No. 2 line taking on a Titans' defense that was fifth-ranked in '07.
Fortunately for Brohm, three of Tennessee's defensive starters are out with injury. Still, with the No. 1s scheduled to play a series or even two of the second half, the Titans' order of substitution makes it difficult for Brohm to look good.
At this point, the game seems too fast for Brohm. His reads are late, and when the ball does come out, his passes frequently are off line. His accuracy, regarded as an asset at Louisville, has been anything but pinpoint.
Brohm tends to float his passes instead of driving them downfield. His arm strength isn't even in the same league as Rodgers' and is no better than Matt Flynn, the seventh-round draft pick (No. 209) from Louisiana State who is stealing his thunder. Remember, the most common pre-draft knock on Flynn from scouts was limited strength.
Whereas Flynn has become more and more decisive and is now gunning the ball with a tight spiral, Brohm tends to hesitate and frequently throws waffle balls. Flynn's release appears quicker, too.
At mid-week, three executives in personnel for NFL teams agreed to rate the eight rookie quarterbacks with 25 or more pass attempts based on what they've seen on exhibition tape. The scouts graded the players that they saw on a scale of 1 to 10.
NFC scout: Chad Henne, Miami (second round-57th pick), 6; Matt Ryan, Atlanta (D1-3), 5; Colt Brennan, Washington (D6-186), 5; Joe Flacco, Baltimore (D1-18), 4; John David Booty, Minnesota (D5-137), 3; Brohm, 3; Kevin O'Connell, New England (D3-94), 2; and Flynn, 2.
AFC scout: Ryan, 5; O'Connell, 5; Brennan, 3; Flacco, 3; Booty, 2; Brohm, 2; Henne, 2.
AFC scout: Flynn, 7; Ryan, 7; Booty, 6; Brennan, 6; Flacco, 6; Brohm, 5; Henne, 5.
Although two of the three scouts only saw seven of the eight, it can be said that Brohm, the third quarterback selected, is at or near the bottom after three exhibition games.
Pittsburgh's Dennis Dixon (D5-156) also has been impressive but only the NFC scout had seen him and handed him a 4. The best undrafted rookie might be Chicago's Caleb Hanie, who earned a 4 from the NFC executive.
"I expected a little more," one of the AFC scouts said, referring to Brohm. "I thought he'd be game-ready, that he'd walk into that No. 2 job and even press Aaron. Not as accurate as I thought. Little slow on the drop. Very average mobility."
That scout rated Brohm as the best quarterback in the draft and said he wasn't about to change this early. Another personnel man didn't like him in April and likes him even less now.
"I don't see a quick release and I'm not impressed with his arm at all," he said. "He doesn't have any zap on the ball. You can develop accuracy and footwork, but not that. He was so well-coached at Louisville and was a savvy player there. Now he's not even savvy."
Because the Packers had Brohm and Henne closely rated, their choice of Brohm was far from unanimous (they also considered passing on Brohm and taking Kevin O'Connell in the mid-rounds). Henne has won the No. 2 job behind Chad Pennington, beating out Josh McCown and John Beck.
The most vital job for any NFL decision-maker is to split hairs between players such as Brohm and Henne. The successful ones build good teams, and the unsuccessful ones eventually get fired.
Yes, Brohm's passer rating is a lowly 35.8, but it's preposterous to make a judgment after three exhibition games. He hasn't been beyond the No. 1 line. He hasn't had a full week of game-planning and repetition as a starter.
Yet, this should be interjected: Of all the quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds over the last 20 years who threw at least 30 passes in their rookie exhibition campaigns, only Jake Plummer (15.5, Arizona, 1997) had a lower passer rating than Brohm does now.
Unless the Packers completely missed on Brohm, he has a chance to gain size and strength, rebuild his confidence and become as comfortable in Green Bay as he was at Louisville, where his NFL passer rating was 106.4.
But that's for another day. The Packers have a season to play, and more than likely somebody other than Rodgers will be taking snaps for them in the not-too-distant future.
If Rodgers went down against Minnesota, Flynn would have more of a chance than Brohm. In his one season starting at LSU, Flynn showed he could ad-lib in jail-break situations. He's more physical than Brohm, seems to be much more resourceful and might be every bit as athletic.
If the Packers had a week to prepare a rookie to start, perhaps Mike McCarthy would think that he could get more out of Brohm.
It's instructive that in 2005, when Rodgers was awful during his first summer in Green Bay, the Packers kept him No. 2 all year over Craig Nall even though Nall was more capable of getting them through a game. The main holdover from '05 is Thompson, and he tends to stand by his draft picks.
Brohm's struggles might well have waylaid the Packers' plans to sign a veteran, too, although they claim not to be interested.
The Packers will never cut Brohm, and if they cut Flynn they'd not only run the risk of losing him on waivers ("I think he would get picked up," an AFC scout said) but also their best chance to get out of a game, at least in September.
Any veteran coming in now would receive almost no time with the No. 1 offense and might take several weeks just to learn the terminology.
Among the better quarterbacks possibly headed for waivers Saturday are Chris Simms in Tampa Bay, Beck or McCown in Miami, Brooks Bollinger in Minnesota, Bruce Gradkowski in St. Louis and Anthony Wright with the New York Giants.
More than likely, the Packers will plunge ahead with a depth chart reading Rodgers, Brohm and Flynn. They need it to be good enough.
I think it's good enough although i would like to see Flyn as second string, i like the thoughts of bringing in a vet but, im in it for the long hall!!
packerbacker-cheeshead for life!!