|Photo by Mike Roemer, AP|
Sitting in the stands at Lambeau Field, we were just as shocked as the TV audience was when Tolzien came in on the second series. We didn't see Wallace get hurt or have any difficulty coming off the field, and now that I have watched the TV broadcast, the announcers obviously had no clue, either. There was a brief sideline shot, focusing on other things, but showing Scott Tolzien warming up, but evidently the announcers did not notice this, or did not make anything of it. After Tolzien came in, Wallace continued throwing on the sideline and practicing dropping back for quite awhile, right down in front of us. There just wasn't anything we saw in what he was doing that would have suggested that he had a season-ending injury. So I can only read one thing into McCarthy immediately naming Tolzien as the starter this week, and in putting Wallace on IR when Matt Flynn was signed. McCarthy must have concluded that Tolzien is a better option than Wallace, even if both are healthy.
If that was his conclusion, I can understand why. Tolzien made two huge errors Sunday in throwing two interceptions. I don't think it would have made the difference in the game, given the Packers' defensive collapse in the second half, but the game would have been a lot closer but for those interceptions. Tolzien just looked better out there in his almost-full game than Wallace had in his partial game last Monday night, and his one series on Sunday. Tolzien was decisive, seemed to have a pretty good arm, and if McCarthy was telling the truth when he said that Tolzien was running plays he had never practiced, then he is a good student of the game.
McCarthy's greater confidence in Tolzien's leading the offense was also shown by the fact that he was more willing to let Tolzien play a more aggressive game. Unlike Monday night with Wallace, on Sunday McCarthy called more rollouts, screen passes, quick passes to the sideline, and even some deep balls.
So here we are, having our third starting quarterback in 3 weeks, after going the preceding 20 plus years with a total of three starting quarterbacks. How will that work out for the Packers? Well, if there are two teams in the league that seem to have the Packers' number in the last few years, the Giants are one of those teams, and the 49ers are the other. But the Giants have been a bit of an enigma this year. They lost the first 6 games of the year. Every one of those teams is at least .500 as of right now, but still, the Giants lost every game. Since then, the Giants have played two bad teams (the Vikings and the Raiders) and one 5-5 team (the Eagles), and they won all three of those games. In hindsight, we can see that the Giants are a better team than we thought 3 weeks ago, but I don't think their 3 game winning streak is enough to convince me that the Giants are back as a contending team.
The Packers, when the same QB starts and finishes the game, are 5-2. When the QB gets knocked out in the opening minutes of the game, they are 0-2. So let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Tolzien lasts the entire game, after preparing the entire week to be the starting QB. Do the Packers have a chance? Sure they do. They now have the best running game they have had in years. This takes an enormous amount of pressure off the passing game, and tends to tire out the opponents' defense. While the Packers' defense played way below expectations the last two weeks, especially in the second half, they had been playing much better before that, so they should be capable of a better showing. The Giants' offense just isn't playing the way it used to, for a combination of reasons including injuries, personnel, and the regression of Eli Manning as a QB. I wouldn't bet a lot of money on it, but I think the Packers will win this game.