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Scott Tolzien will be the starter against Vikings

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Interceptions spoiled young quarterback’s first start

GREEN BAY—Scott Tolzien is slated to make his second straight start at quarterback for the Packers on Sunday, and it will be tough for him to match the big-play production from his first one.

“I have never seen a quarterback hit all his big throws like that in a game,” McCarthy said on Monday of Tolzien, who was 6-for-6 on long downfield throws against the Giants, all of which went for gains of 25 yards or more. Tolzien also had five other completions of at least 15 yards in the 27-13 defeat.

“I can’t think of another time in my career that I’ve had someone hit every one,” McCarthy continued. “Every big shot we called yesterday, we hit them. He took a couple hits on the throws, but the ball placement was extraordinary.”

The Giants’ focus on the Packers’ running game opened up some of those downfield passes for Tolzien, but his accuracy with them is perhaps the biggest plus he can take into this Sunday’s matchup with Minnesota, which has struggled to defend the pass all season.

At this point, there’s no telling how many games Tolzien will start. McCarthy didn’t have an update on quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who broke his collarbone two weeks ago, when the Packers’ current three-game losing streak began.

“I don’t make medical decisions, and that will be no different with Aaron Rodgers,” McCarthy said. “We all know he wants to play, and he wants to play as soon as he can. Those are big decisions when you put a player back on the field, and when everyone is confident, that’s when it’ll happen.”

In the meantime, McCarthy will continue to work with Tolzien’s strengths and try to clean up his primary weakness, which has been turnovers. Tolzien has five interceptions in two games, the most damaging coming in the fourth quarter against the Giants.

The Packers had just pulled within 20-13 and gotten a three-and-out on defense, giving themselves a chance to drive for the tying score. But on the first snap, Tolzien made a mistake with an adjustment at the line of scrimmage based on the defensive look, and he threw the ball right into the leaping arms of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who strolled 24 yards untouched for the pick-six.

“It was a hard learning experience for a young quarterback and obviously at a critical point in the game,” McCarthy said.

“He has a lot of good football ahead of him, but the reality is, and he knows this more than anybody, he has to take care of the football.”

Tolzien’s three interceptions against the Giants contributed to the day’s minus-two turnover ratio, a figure that is now minus-six for the season, which is “just not cutting it,” McCarthy said.

The defense, which played Sunday without cornerback Sam Shields, who was a surprise late scratch due to a hamstring injury, not only isn’t taking the ball away enough but isn’t tackling well enough, either.

McCarthy has seen too many missed tackles the last three weeks, which he referenced as one of the many “peaks and valleys” he has seen with his team’s fundamentals all season.

At 5-5 with two NFC North contests in a span of five days that could make-or-break the season, there’s no more time for valleys.

“Extremely important football game this week,” McCarthy said, referring to the Vikings’ visit to Lambeau Field, which will be followed by a Thanksgiving trip to division co-leader Detroit. “It’s a division game, it’s a home game. We’ve had two home games get away from us.

“We need to play better. We need to perform better. We need to prepare better. This is a very, very accountable football team. It’s an enjoyable team to coach. We’re just not quite where we need to be right now.”

Additional coverage - Nov. 18

 
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