Once he left via free agency, Matt Flynn never thought he'd be back in Green Bay, never thought he'd be back wearing the green and gold.
But that's where he finds himself now, returning to his familiar backup role, one injury away from directing the huddle and leading the offense once again.
The challenge now facing Flynn is getting caught up on the Packers offensive playbook, the tweaks that have taken place, the updates in terminology.
Change has not been sweeping since Flynn departed after the 2011 season, but as he is finding out, the running game in Green Bay is better and more efficient than any of the first four seasons Flynn spent in Titletown.
For a player who's primary responsibility in ground game is to hand the ball off, you wouldn't think getting updated on the rushing attack would be a challenge. But that's what happens when a player the caliber of Eddie Lacy enters into the mix.
"Talking with Matt Flynn after the installation meetings, he felt comfortable, particularly in the passing game," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "The run game's changed a lot. That's been the biggest adjustment for him from a terminology standpoint, but he felt like he would pick it up very quickly."
Even so, Flynn doesn't think he'll need much time to mentally download McCarthy's schemes and systems.
"I'm just trying to get familiar with the offense again and do the things that you need to do to keep getting better at the position, show the coaches that you're still preparing like you're the starter and doing all those things," said Flynn. "It's something that I know I'm not going to have a problem with."
Flynn wasn't signed to the Packers roster to be a starter. McCarthy has already acknowledged that Scott Tolzien will be given such an opportunity for the upcoming game against the New York Giants on Sunday and is prepared to play the entire game with him.
Still, Flynn was tabbed as the insurance policy, and his knowledge of the Packers offense gave him a leg up on other options the Packers could have considered signing once it was learned they'd need to place Seneca Wallace on injured reserve earlier this week.
The Packers reportedly brought a trio of quarterbacks in for a workout on Tuesday, including John Skelton, Matt Brown and James Vandenburg. But none of them would pick up the intricacies of the Green Bay offense as quickly as Flynn.
"I've been engrained in this offense for so long, knew it inside and out, was fluid in the language, fluid in what we were trying to do that it's come back pretty quickly," said Flynn. "I see myself having it down pretty close to 100 percent very soon."
Perhaps the biggest drawback to signing Flynn was the elbow injury he was rumored to have, which may have contributed to his struggles in stops with the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills.
According to McCarthy, however, the elbow isn't a concern: "He was cleared medically."
If Flynn is to be believed, there's been no talk of his role with the Packers beyond 2013. Tolzien had an encouraging first appearance with the Packers in their last game against the Eagles, but it's difficult to say with certainty he's both the short-term and the long-term solution to backing up Rodgers. Likely factoring into that decision will be how Tolzien plays the rest of the season.
"I don't think people are really thinking to next year or anything like that," said Flynn. "I'm here now, and I'm going to do the best I can to prove to people that I'm still the same guy."
The enduring image fans have of Flynn is his record-breaking performance in just his second career start, throwing for a franchise record 480 yards and six touchdowns in a win over the Detroit Lions in the 2011 regular-season finale.
Rodgers was on the inactive list that day seeing as the Packers had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the team not wanting to risk chance of injury. But Rodgers wasn't given the day off. He was in constant communication with Flynn, relaying play calls out on the field over his headset.
With Rodgers currently sidelined due to a broken collarbone, Flynn said Wednesday's practice was reminiscent of that day two seasons ago when Flynn was suited up and Rodgers was relegated to giving advice.
"It kind of reminds me of the last week that I played when I was here when he was kind of calling the plays on the sideline, that kind of was familiar to me," said Flynn. "Aaron has always been good to me, kind of taking me under his wing, and you see that now with Scott a little bit. Obviously we're going to try to help him any way we can."
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
- Like Like
- 4 points