Packers not ready to name starter after Matt Flynn's outing
NOV 24, 2013 6:51p ET
"He said, 'Get warmed up, you might be going in,'" Flynn said. "And so I started warming up, and then Tom Clements, the OC (offensive coordinator), he came up and said, 'You're in. Go get the ball.' It kind of happened fast."
At that time, the Packers were trailing the Minnesota Vikings 20-7 with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter. Starting quarterback Scott Tolzien had completed 7 of 17 passes for 98 yards to go with 1 rushing touchdown. Green Bay's offense had just gone three-and-out on its first drive of the second half, a short-lived series that concluded on an overthrown pass by Tolzien.
"Matt Flynn was placed in the game to give the offense a spark," head coach Mike McCarty said.
A spark is what the Packers needed and a spark is what the Packers got.
Though Flynn's first drive ended in a punt, the quarterback who re-signed with his old team 12 days earlier was soon up to his old tricks in a Green Bay uniform. Flynn led touchdown drives on the next two possessions and brought the Packers all the way back from a 16-point deficit to force overtime.
"We have a history with Matt," said McCarthy, referencing Flynn's four years in Green Bay from 2008-2011. "Did I think he was necessarily ready as far as the amount of reps and everything getting ready? That was not available to him since he's been here, but he went out and played football and did a lot of good things today."
Tolzien said he didn't expect to get benched, so the relatively short leash on him was a bit of a surprise. But Tolzien actually agreed with McCarthy's decision to make the quarterback change.
"I just struggled, you know," Tolzien said. "I probably would have pulled me too, to be honest. I was just off a bit. I'm not going to sit here and make an excuse. Just didn't play well, and a lot of throws you wish you could have back."
Flynn finished 21 for 36 passing for 218 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a passer rating of 85.2. And while that performance was good enough to bring the Packers back from seemingly insurmountable odds to tie the game, it wasn't enough for Green Bay to come out with a win. Both teams scored on field goals in overtime and the clock eventually wound all the way down for a 26-26 tie.
"I don't think anyone in this locker room would say, 'Hey, that's a moral victory,' or anything like that," Flynn said. "When we were down however many we were, I don't think there was any doubt in that offensive huddle that we weren't going to win the game. We had our chances, obviously. We had the chances."
Flynn's performance was solid and far exceeded expectations for a player who was cut by two other NFL teams this season. However, the only reason that Flynn had a chance to rejoin the Packers at all, the only reason that Tolzien started this game and the only reason that Green Bay had to start Seneca Wallace two weeks ago is because of the broken left collarbone suffered by Rodgers on Nov. 4.
With less than 100 hours between the end of this game and the Packers' Thanksgiving trip to face the Detroit Lions, McCarthy has a major decision to make at quarterback: Flynn, Tolzien or wait as long as possible with fingers crossed that Rodgers is medically cleared in time for kickoff.
"I don't have (an answer) for you," McCarthy said when asked who would start Thursday.
Two weeks ago, after Tolzien had stepped in for Wallace, McCarthy declared the former Wisconsin Badger as the starter for the following game. Last week, McCarthy announced Tolzien as the starter as soon as he was asked -- which was the next day. But as Rodgers gets further removed from the date of the injury, the possibility of the former NFL Most Valuable Player returning grows.
"I have no idea," McCarthy said of Rodgers' status. "I can't answer that for you right now."
Since Rodgers' injury, Green Bay has a 0-3-1 record. If it wasn't always obvious just how important he is to the team's success, these past few weeks have proved it.
"We haven't handled Aaron Rodgers' departure (well)," McCarthy said. "I haven't talked about it on purpose; that hasn't worked, and we all need to step up as a football and take advantage of these opportunities."
The typical recovery time for a broken collarbone is 6-8 weeks, and even by Thursday's game, Rodgers will only be 3.5 weeks into that time frame. So, it is unlikely that Rodgers is back, but for a player of his value, McCarthy is not going to rush to pick between Flynn and Tolzien when he could potentially have a much better option available.
"I don't know what the plan is," Flynn said.
As Tolzien said, the Packers' season was "really on the line" when Flynn entered Sunday's game. Whether that earns Flynn the starting job four days later remains to be seen.
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