way out of a paper bag
Most likely from "he couldn't punch his way out of a paper bag."
- (idiomatic, formulaic) A minimal level of competence or effectiveness, as used in phrases where one is unable to perform.
- My boss is so clueless, he couldn't schedule his own way out of a paper bag.
- Junior varsity couldn't play their way out of a paper bag in comparison.
- 1923, Asia, volume 23, American Asiatic Association, page 281
- The old chap did not look as though he could push his way out of a paper bag.
- 1924, Harry Charles Witwer, Love and Learn G. P. Putnam's sons, page 260
- Personally I don’t think this egg could punch his way out of a paper bag. He’s only been workin’ in this trap two days