Next man up/The Red Line

I think we can all agree last Sunday’s Packer game against Philadelphia was painful to watch.

The Packers seem to be running out of able-bodied football players faster than general manager Ted Thompson can put them on injured reserve.

Even if you hate the Packers, you can’t enjoy this too much, unless you’re the kind of person that enjoys burning ants on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass or horse races in which one of the thoroughbreds breaks down and is humanely destroyed. It’s not even a fair fight.

Clay Matthews played Sunday with some sort of soft-shelled club concealing his broken thumb, making him the first Packer to play with boxing gloves since the regrettable and (not injured) Packer defensive back Ahmad Carroll, lover of holding and other legal forms of illegal contact. Matthews, currently among the best linebackers in the league, looked and played the part well, grading out about as effectively as the infamous Packer draft bust, now retired after the Toronto Argonauts won the Grey Cup in spite of him last year.

The rest of the defense had no such excuse.

That said, the biggest issue may be at quarterback, where Scott Tolzien shocked the world by looking semi-competent. Then again, the University of Wisconsin-Madison isn’t exactly ‘Quarterback U’ (No, Russell Wilson doesn’t count) and there appears to be some sort of ridiculous voodoo going on, so it’s clear alternate plans must be made.

Matt Flynn signed a free-agent deal earlier this week. Anonymous reports indicated Flynn’s elbow is messed up and that, according to the Milwaukee JournalSentinel’s Bob McGinn, one Seattle teammate said Flynn became ‘a master on the ping-pong table.’

So if table-tennis elbow eliminates what is now Plan D, it’s time for Plan E. E as in Everybody Else. Open auditions.

Knowing he was at Lambeau Field already, I joked Sunday that the Packers might take Houghton High School volleyball coach John Christianson, a Green Bay native, from the stands and press him into service. He’s very familiar with the Packers, their offense, and I know firsthand that he’s good with a clipboard, but he did have the whole Class B regionals thing going on this week, so I can see why he might have declined. After all, it’s hard enough to ride a bus downstate in one piece. I can’t imagine how that might work in traction.

On to Plan F. As in Favre. Some day, probably soon, the Packers will retire his No. 4 jersey. Given the melodrama associated with the last few seasons of his career, a WWE-style ceremony in which he unretires his own jersey to go play the second half of the Nov. 24 home game against Minnesota would be rather appropriate. Heck, I’d consider the event a success if he just hit Adrian Peterson with a steel chair.

Plans G through Q have already been scrapped, so for plan R, I suggest that Ted Thompson see if Ryan Braun is available.

The disgraced Brewers slugger is probably quite fresh, since he sat out the last 65 games of the baseball season.

I can’t think of a better way to get back into the good graces of Wisconsinites than to step in and save the Packers’ season.

As for Plan U, Bob Uecker is probably also available these days, if he’s not grilling some Usinger’s sausages, though he might be a better fit at defensive back, since we’ve known for years about how he couldn’t hit, and well, neither can the current Packers secondary.

So there’s just a few of the options available to the Packers, and none of them are good. Of course, this whole episode demonstrates two significant truths about today’s NFL.

First, the role of quarterback has become so infinitely complicated and important that the number of people who can do it competently is significantly less than the number of available positions and anyone who doesn’t have a good one is up a creek without a paddle.

Second, sometimes none of that matters if no one stops anyone. After all, it’s still tackle football for now, anyway.

Brandon Veale can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at