In defense of Seneca Wallace
Seneca Wallace. Photo: Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
In the Monday night game against the Chicago Bears, the unthinkable happened to the Green Bay Packers.
QB1, Aaron Rodgers, left the game with an injury.
QB2, Seneca Wallace, had to come off the bench. It looks like he'll be the starting quarterback for the short-term future.
The game against the Bears was just downright ugly on many fronts.
Despite how things looked on the field, the Packers were in contention most of the night.
The entire team and coaching staff deserves blame for that loss, including a little for Seneca Wallace.
However, Seneca Wallace is not the main reason the Packers lost.
In fact, considering all of the circumstance surrounding Seneca, he played quite well. He should be commended for his performance off of the bench.
What, you say? You can't be serious.
Yes, I am serious. And here's why.
In today's NFL, QB2s get very few reps in practice, if any at all.
The fact of the matter is NFL offenses are so complex, that QB1 needs to get all of the reps in practice just to install the game plan.
For better or for worse, QB2 gets thrown to the wolves should he enter the game.
And, let's face it, in today's salary-cap NFL, the drop off in talent from QB1 to QB2 is so severe, that coaches have to throw out the entire game plan if QB2 has to enter the game.
It essentially becomes sandlot football at that point.
Run to the oak tree, take a left, and then look for the ball.
To understand what Seneca Wallace went through last night, and for you to accurately judge his performance, consider this following example:
Assume you live in Green Bay and you drive a delivery car for a living. You sit on the left side of your car and drive on the right side of the road.
The entire car is set up for that type of driving. You shift gears with your right hand.
The dashboard gauges are all positioned for driving in that orientation. Your blind spot is over your left shoulder. You know how to use rearview mirrors while sitting in the left side seat.
All of the traffic laws are made that type of driving. You can only merge into some types of lanes under certain conditions. Your turning angles all make sense and you can do them virtually on autopilot.
You have spent your entire adult life driving in this fashion. It's comfortable, and you're good at it. You made your living driving that car.
Then, assume, due to some circumstances, that you lost your job driving that car. You moved to New York City to live with relatives.
While in New York, you didn't drive that car anymore. You took the bus, a taxi, or the subway like the majority of New Yorkers.
Now, assume you got offered a job in London driving a car.
All of the driving conditions are backwards on the other side of the pond. You sit on the right side of your car and drive on the left side of the road.
Nothing is familiar to you. You have to shift gears with your left hand now.
All of the turning angles are now completely different. So are the merging laws.
Your blind spot is now over your right shoulder. The rearview mirrors seem out of place.
You feel about of place.
Then, assume your only formal training to drive that car in London is to sit in on employee meetings. You get to hear your boss tell you how to drive the car.
You get to see videos of how to properly drive that car. You're given the car's owner's manual and are told to read it every night.
More importantly, however, is, you get to watch another driver drive his car.
Whenever that driver makes a mistake, you get to hear the boss make criticisms of him. Whenever he does something well, you hear his praises.
In other words, you never get to drive a car in practice. You aren't allowed to make mistakes to learn from them and improve.
All of your learning is from indirect teaching and watching others.
Then, one day, your boss tells you that you're up. But, you're not making a simple flower delivery a few blocks away.
You're going to be driving a Formula 1 car in the London Grand Prix. You're expected to drive the car at 200 mph with other cars around you doing the same.
All with no live practice in the cockpit.
That is what it is like to be a QB2 in the NFL.
No practice, no reps, and no live time at the controls. You're just thrown to the wolves.
Considering all that, Seneca Wallace didn't perform poorly. He did complete the majority of his passes.
He spent most of the night running for his life behind a makeshift offense line once again dealing with injuries.
That's like you trying to drive the Grand Prix down a cylinder or two.
So, with a week or more of practice under his belt, Seneca will perform better. He'll be just fine, just like Chicago's QB2, Josh McCown, was last night after having a bye week to prepare.
Packers fans need to be aware of the QB2 beast and have reasonable expectations.
If you want to cast blame somewhere, put it on the salary cap era, the coaching staff, or the personnel department.
Don't put it on Seneca Wallace. He doesn't deserve it, just like you shouldn't be blamed for putting that Formula 1 car into the wall in the London Grand Prix.
However, after a week or more of training on the roads, you'll avoid wrecking the car. You might even beat some drivers around you.