It's time for the eighth annual "Best & Worst Case Scenario" series, a feature that goes back to the days of the old RailbirdCentral.com domain.
I attempt to take a look at what is the very best possible season a player is capable of producing, and on the other hand, what would happen if a player fell flat on his face (without assuming they suffer a season-ending injury). These are intended to be extreme scenarios on both sides of the spectrum. More than likely, each player is going to fall somewhere in the middle, but every now and then, they just so happen to come to fruition.
As one final note, I also try to take a look at what these scenarios would be from an individual standpoint and not necessarily what's best (or worst) for the team.
Best-case scenario: Thanks to Eddie Lacy keeping defenses honest and stacking eight men in the box on occasion, along with a young receiving group developing and maturing more quickly than expected, Rodgers has the best season of his career. Throwing for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns—or damn near it—isn't out of the question, nor are career highs in passer rating, average yards per attempt, completion percentage, and touchdown-to-interception ratio. And if Rodgers is putting up career highs in categories like this, his second NFL MVP Award is a near certainty. Perhaps best yet, Rodgers takes less than 30 sacks over a 16-game season.
Worst-case scenario: The worst-case scenario for Rodgers is the best-case scenario for a lot of other NFL quarterbacks. Seriously, what's considered a poor season by Rodgers standards? He throws for less than 3,000 yards? He has a completion percentage less than 65? He tosses fewer than 30 touchdowns? Even in a scenario such as this, the Packers could still be successful as long as Lacy and the running game are picking up the slack.
Best-case scenario: Whether he's subbing for an injured player like he did in 2013 or just giving Rodgers a break like he did in the season finale circa 2011 after the Packers had clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs, Flynn just seems to get the job done. He may not have the NFL's strongest arm, but his knowledge and command of the Packers offense and the respect he commands from his teammates allow Flynn to direct Packers to more victories than losses in limited playing time. He's capable of a completion percentage above 65 and a passer rating above 90, and as such, solidifies himself as one of the league's better backups.
Worst-case scenario: The Matt Flynn of 2014 is more reminiscent of the version that played for the Seahawks and Raiders. He might be capable of finishing a game or bridging the gap for one or two contests, but he's not worth keeping on the roster at the expense of developing a better long-term prospect like Scott Tolzien. Following a subpar preseason showing, Flynn is surprisingly released at the end of training camp.
Best-case scenario: After an offseason in Mike McCarthy's quarterback camp, Tolzien displays significant improvement over the cup of coffee he had in a Packers uniform last season. The raw tools that observers saw in flashes in 2013 come far more consistently in 2014. A strong arm allows Tolzien to complete passes where others can't—and that other is Matt Flynn. After a strong preseason that sees Tolzien throw multiple touchdowns and few interceptions, the Packers install the former Wisconsin product as Rodgers' top backup.
Worst-case scenario: Not unlike B.J. Coleman a year ago, Tolzien appears to possess raw talent but is plagued by poor decision making and an inability to consistently move the Packers offense. He gets ample opportunties during preseason action, but can't seem to lead a drive that doesn't end in a punt or a turnover. Tolzien doesn't throw a single touchdown pass during the exhibition season, and the Packers decide they're better off going with Flynn as the backup and parting ways with Tolzien.
Best-case scenario: Coming on the heels of a successful senior season in college, Rettig remains on an upward trajectory. He's still rough around the edges and has a lot to learn about playing football at the professional level, but whenever he gets the opportunity to play, Rettig seemingly displays promise of better things to come. Although he's eventually released at the end of training camp, the Packers decide to invite Rettig to the practice squad, where he can continue his development.
Worst-case scenario: Rettig, unfortunately, just doesn't display an NFL-caliber proficiency. After a week or two of training camp, the Packers decide he's simply taking away repetitions that could be given to Rodgers, Flynn and Tolzien. Rettig doesn't so much as see a single snap during the preseason and is released shortly into training camp.
Running backs are next in the series.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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