Tolzien shows promise despite Sunday's loss

Packers’ defense gives ground in Eagles’ 27-13 win at Green Bay
The singular question on the minds of Green Bay Packers fans everywhere today is this: Is it Seneca Wallace’s left or right groin which is injured? That and how long will he be out?
OK, so much for levity.
How about a dose of reality: The Packers’ overall defense – and especially its safety play – has been unacceptable in two straight losses. To compound matters, the tackling has been bad and the effort worse.
Philadelphia’s 27-13 victory over Green Bay Sunday at Lambeau Field exposed several weaknesses including the fact that the backup quarterback position isn’t the weakest of them. Not by a long shot when considering defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ unit.
Aaron Rodgers and the offense might have been able to overcome the Packers’ poor defensive play in back-to-back home losses. Any combination of Wallace and/or Scott Tolzien could not.
The Packers’ offense had more first downs (23-19), more plays (75-58) and threw for more yards (297-211) than the Eagles’ offense. The problem was the Eagles’ offense relied on explosive plays and an overpowering running attack.
The Eagles had nine plays of 20-or-more yards.
Some involved luck (DeSean Jackson’s 55-yard touchdown catch on a deflection and Riley Cooper’s 32-yard touchdown catch when Packers’ safety Morgan Burnett slipped). The rest was the Eagles and LeSean McCoy chewing up the clock in routine fashion. At one point, Green Bay’s defense simply sagged while the Eagles clicked off nine minutes in a game-clinching drive.
McCoy increased his NFL-leading rushing total to 932 yards with a strong 25 carry, 155-yard performance against Green Bay.
Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles finished 12 of 18 for 228 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. Foles was coming off an NFL record-tying performance with seven touchdown passes against Oakland last week. Against the Packers, one of every four completions by Foles resulted in an Eagles’ touchdown.
For a second straight game, the Packers’ starting quarterback was injured on the game’s opening drive. Last Monday, Rodgers broke his left collarbone on the first series of a 27-10 loss to Chicago. On Sunday, Wallace pulled a groin muscle on the opening drive and was finished.
But here is a bright spot, and unexpected at that. With minimal prep time at best, Tolzien, a former Wisconsin Badger, played well.
He completed 24 of 39 passes for 280 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He showed zip on his passes, command of the offense and presence in the pocket. He looked better than Matt Flynn – yes, that Matt Flynn – and better than Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman, Vince Young or Wallace.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy’s best decision of the day might’ve been declaring Tolzien the starter for this week’s game in New Jersey against the New York Giants.
If there is cheerful news to report it’s that Tolzien’s got game, and that the Packers were right to match Cleveland’s offer in an attempt to sign him off Green Bay’s practice squad. The Packers matched Cleveland’s offer and Tolzien was promoted to the 53-man roster.
“We had a lot of tough situations today, no excuses,” McCarthy told reporters after the game. “I thought Scott Tolzien played as well as could be expected.”
No question about it.
Tolzien’s only glaring error was an ill-advised and underthrown back-shoulder pass attempt to Jordy Nelson that was intercepted by the Eagles’ Brandon Boykin in the second quarter.
“We had an awesome opportunity there and got a good look with the play that we were running,” Tolzien said. “Looking back on the throw, I should have thrown more back pylon.”
But Tolzien shook it off and did not take it to heart. No one is perfect, especially when thrown into the fore with understandably little prep, as he was.

Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio ( Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.