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McCarthy Should Start Flynn Against The Lions

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McCarthy Should Start Flynn Against The Lions

Mike McCarthy says he wants to play Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions to win. Earlier this week, McCarthy said "We have full intentions of being 15-1 come Sunday afternoon."

He should absolutely play to win - with Matt Flynn as his starting quarterback.

There is no reason for McCarthy to put his starting quarterback, and the league's likely Most Valuable Player, in the lineup against the cheap-shot artists that reside along the Lions' defensive line. The last time these two teams met, on three separate occasions, Rodgers was hit well after the play was over. Twice it happened directly in front of an official without a flag being thrown.

I have no doubt McCarthy wants to honor the integrity of the game, much the same way Lovie Smith did when playing his starters to try and beat the Packers last year during their Week 17 matchup. But Smith also knows and respects McCarthy's team and the way they play the game. The same can't be said about Jim Schwartz' crew, who have a reputation for playing, to quote Brian Urlacher, "to the echo of the whistle."

It just makes no sense to put Rodgers on the field against this band of marauding malcontents in a game that can do absolutely nothing to advance the Packers goal of winning another world championship.

Asked earlier this week how he planned on approaching playing time for his starters, McCarthy responded:

I don't have an answer for you. I need to see how the players come in here tomorrow. It usually takes to Tuesday to put a prognosis on who's available, who's at risk and who isn't. I'm not going to stand here and tell you we want to give away opportunities to win a game. We're going to play to win the game next week. I'm not real excited about a division opponent coming in here and thinking we're not going to do everything we can to get to 15-1.

We all saw Matt Flynn direct the Packers to a near-victory last season against the Patriots. McCarthy should give his young quarterback another opportunity to lead the Packers to victory and to get them to 15-1 in the process.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (50) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RockinRodgers's picture

I feel this way about most of the starters.

I would like to see Clifton at least play a series or two.

Abe's picture

I'm mixed on this one. I definitely see Aaron's point, but I think there is a lot to be gained in sending Detroit down to New Orleans in the big picture. As a Packer fan the two teams that scare me in the NFC postseason are Detroit and New Orleans. Why not send one of them out in the first round of the playoffs? Detroit is a club that my have the potential to go down to New Orleans and knock off the Saints. A win at Lambeau can toss a nice additional roadblock in front of the Saints, followed by a potential trip to San Francisco the week after.

tony's picture

Good point... but I'm not scared of the Lions in the postseason, nor am I scared of the Saints coming to Lambeau in January. I think the team needs to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

tony's picture

If Mike wants to go with Rodgers, just do it for no more than a series or two, and make sure everything is safe.

But I'm in agreement with Nagler here -- absolutely no sense to put Rodgers in there. The Lions are punks and there's no sense whatsoever in running the risk. Plus, it could put the spotlight on Flynn and make him more appealing for a trade.

CSS's picture

Past the trade deadline and he's a free-agent at seasons end. They can't 'trade' Flynn unless they franchise him. Even then, no way a team pays franchise money to Flynn.

Emory Dively's picture

A compensatory pick is possible though

lebowski's picture

Can't 'trade' a free agent.

tony's picture

Ah -- I guess I forgot he was a FA after the season... thanks for clarifying.

Starry Barts's picture

Also feel ambivalent. But, yeah, starting Flynn also creates a good moral win-win in case they meet again in the playoffs...
Win with Flynn and Detriot knows they've got no chance in the playoffs.
Lose with Flynn and, well, it was our backup QB. The opposite of Chicago's Confidence Gift last year.

redlights's picture

Pure. Lunacy.

Since when have we become scaredy-cats? ARodg should start both halves, then pull in early 3rd quarter. That will still give Flynn plenty of time to showcase, but keep our MVP from getting rusty and out of rythem (sp?) w/receivers. Let's challenge our OLine to step up and keep our QB's jersey's clean; put out a little intimidation for those teams eyeing us for an upset.

Confidance, people! If we can't keep ARodg from injury now, I'm not sure our oline would take us any further in the playoffs.

packsmack25's picture

Please explain this stance to the fans that paid a lot of money to travel to Green Bay and watch Aaron Rodgers play against the Lions.

Tommyboy's picture

I think the fans need to be aware that starters may not be played and decide if they still want to go.

As a fan, I want to see what's done to put the team in the best situation to win the super bowl.

packsmack25's picture

I don't think you understand my point. There are a lot of Packer fans all over the country, some of whom may have this week off due to the holiday. It might have been their only opportunity to get to Lambeau this year, and when they get there the starting QB will be a healthy scratch? That's crap. Rodgers should at least play as much as he would in a preseason game. Anything else is robbing the fans of their money.

CSS's picture

I get what you're saying, but I'm a fan of the Green Bay Packers, not the Green Bay Rodgers. If resting Rodgers for some or all of a meaningless finally is in the best interest of the franchise short and long-term success than I'm all for it. If given a chance to attend a game I do so for the entire experience, the event. It's not to see a single player.

packsmack25's picture

I agree. But some fans are paying to see the MVP, like it or not. I'm just saying, it's not fair to sit your best players at the expense of the fans that pay their salaries.

Tommyboy's picture

packsmack, I know what you're saying, but I still say they need to decide if they want to go or not. Whether this is the only game they can go to or not, they have to decide if they want to go to this one knowing they may not see all the starters. Just my opinion...

packeraaron's picture

If they paid money to "watch Aaron Rodgers play against the Lions" I have zero sympathy for them.

packsmack25's picture

I am not in that crowd, but it's immature to assume that your fandom is any greater than anyone else's. You and I - and most of the posters here - might be more die-hard than most, but there is no reason that fans of the team who really only like a few players shouldn't get to have the same joy that we do. Just my two cents.

packeraaron's picture

Totally understand what you meant. No worries.

And I don't think its immature to hope people come to the games to support the Green Bay Packers. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is a star player and its great to see him - but if you're buying tix for a Week 17 game, you have to know there's a decent chance this very scenario could come into play.

ZaphodBeeblebrox's picture

Don't you think Vikings fans maybe wanted to see Adrian Peterson play in their last regular season game? He's out due to injury, so anyone going to that game won't see it. Or how about a Colts fan going to Indy to see Peyton Manning this year? Or Pats fan w/Tom Brady in '08? Stuff happens to players all of the time...

packsmack25's picture

I re-read that and I realize you might take that as me calling you immature, which was not my intention.

PackersRS's picture

Do said fans care about the team or care about their entertainement?

Not to mention the lack of a "starters guaranteed" clause in their tickets.

point pack's picture

Mcarthy's decision to play or not play Rodgers in this game has nothing to do with what the attending fans will think. And thank God.

RyanBozz's picture

This may be kind of a reach but I would think that McCarthy would want to secure the QB rating of Rodgers, which is currently an all time record. I think right now it's one point higher than Peyton's from a few years back. If Rodgers doesn't throw another pass, the record is his. Why risk injury and risk going beneath this mark?

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

That crossed my mind as well.

Kevin Purcell's picture

I totally agree. I'd love to see Flynn kick some stinking Lions but. I have no doubt that he can do it and it will be fun to see the Lions flounder against our backup. Don't deactivate Rodgers. If things look like they are getting out of hand, he can still come in and play.

G's picture

RyanBozz, are you also a Mets fan?

jeremy's picture

I would be extremely surprised of Aaron Rodgers doesn't play at least a half of football. I suspect Nagler thinks Rodgers will play too, which is why he wrote this article.

McCarthy is all about continuity and routine, having Rodgers sit for two weeks is the opposite of that.

AJKUHN's picture

The Lions in some ways have more to loose than the Pack. They don't have anything to play for, and have no bye week. If they want to take cheap shots, they can expect some back, and Stafford being even mildly hurt could kill their playoff hopes.
I hope they treat this as preseason. Start the 1st team, get in the work you want them to do, and then go man-to-man with the rest of the team and game. Don't give up the play book (Ehem Arizona 09) and get guys to work on winning their one on ones. Can't not play guys or there is a good chance to get rusty/complacent with a bye week.

Chris's picture

I fully agree with you, Aaron. But I have the suspicion that McCarthy will play the starters for at least 2 1/2 quarters, just resting the obviously injured guys.
Let's just hope that no major injury occurs.

bomdad's picture

I love this piece and agree, but the fan in me wants to see Rodgers left in way too long to run up stats and break records, especially the (Marino) yardage record, just to stick it to Sean Payton and Drew Brees. Then the Saints can face a pissed off Lions team while the Packers have a bye. I guess they have to play the Falcons again anyway, the second dirtiest team in the league, who they've already pissed off directly.

I'll also point out your omission of Louis Delmas as a cheapshot artist.

cow42's picture

sit everyone.

don't try to figure out who you'd rather have the Packers play. you never know which team is gonna be hot, who's gonna get upset, which important player is gonna get injured, etc. just let it play itself out.

i'm done being nervous.

any playoff team is capable of beating the Packers.
but the Packers will be favored in every game that they play from here on out.

you can't ask for more than that.

i did some quick math.

the average packer score is 34.3 - 21.2.

the average nfl score is 22.08 - 22.08.
this is the total points scored in the nfl this year divided by 32 teams, divided by 15 games.

so the packers score about 55 percent more points per game than the league average and give up about 4 percent less points than the league average.

the packers have a winning percentage of .933.

here's how dominant these numbers are...

if the packers were a major league baseball team playing in the 2011 season they would have had a record of 151 - 11. their average score would have been 6-4.

if the packers were an nba team playing in the 2011 season they would have ended the season with a record of 76-6. the average score of their games would have been 154-96.

like i said - i'm done worrying.
our chances are good.
really good.

feel free to check my math.
probably a 99 percent chance that i screwed it all up.

packsmack25's picture

Someone has hacked Cow. This is almost optimism.

cow42's picture

startin' to come around.

PackersRS's picture

Ooff, so amidst all that noise there's solid reasoning.

I'd just argue that using the NFL average isn't any good, because the Packers aren't going to face the NFL average in the playoffs. So here's their point differential compared to the potential playoff opponents:

PACKERS - 197

NFC
SAINTS - 180
49ERS - 144
LIONS - 91
COWBOYS - 39
FALCONS - 31
GIANTS - -35 (that's a minus)

AFC
PATRIOTS - 143
RAVENS - 104
TEXANS - 104
STEELERS - 94
BENGALS - 24
... (only decreases from here)

I do think point differential represents a good season ranking of performance, but I believe it's better used to form tiers, due to different schedule. Doing that, the Saints are pretty close to the Packers, and in the second tier you would see SF and NE.

What I think it's a better measure of success, particularly playoff success, is QB rating differential.

Read this article:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/kerry_byrne/06/23/most.imp...

Of the 71 champions since 1940, an incredible 26 of them -- 37 percent -- finished No. 1 in Passer Rating Differential.

We are #1 in passer rating differential, so that alone should give us a 37% chance of winning the SB.

What is even more interesting is that site lists the 25 best teams in passer rating differential. 14 of those 25 won the SB, but 3 of the losers lost to another team in the top 25. Which means that, unless you face another top 25 team, if you're one of them, you have a 68% chance of winning the SB.

And here's the big deal. Currently, our passer rating differential is 44.2. That would put the 2011 Packers 6th all time. There's no other team in this league that's close to the top 25.

If you don't think that the sample size is relevant, the next best team this season is New Orleans with 21.5, followed by the Lions with 19.2.

While the other elite teams have a difference of 8 points at most between them, 17.9 PIT, 16.9 NE, 12.9 HOU with Yates (was 30.6 with Schaub, which would close the gap considerably, but wasn't enough to be in the top 25), the difference between GB and the second best is a whopping 22.7 points, more than said 2nd place has on average against their opponents.

A couple of things. The big difference pratically excludes the possibility of disparity due to schedule, as does the fact that it's top 6 all time.

And another thing that demonstrates the validity of the stat as a tool to gauge probability of win is that the difference between Rodgers and Brees at Lambeau in week 1 was 19.6, very close to the difference between both teams' seasons.

In conclusion, there's a very big probability that Aaron Rodgers will end up with a QB rating 20 points higher than the opposition. Now add Lambeau to the mix, with all the "perks" it gives (great crowd, known field, not having to travel, tendency of refs to favor the home team) or a dome, "neutral", close to the state Stadium...

So, yeah, I'm very confident we will win it all. Shit happens, there's no such thing as a 100% probability, but our chances are very, very good.

BrianD's picture

Oh. My. God. This is the best post I've ever read on CheeseheadTV. Brian, and, to a greater extent, Aaron could learn a thing or two from you RS. We want information based upon statistics rather than articles based on your opinion. Thanks for the insight RS!

packeraaron's picture

Brian - I highly recommend checking out Football Outsiders and ProFootball Focus. They have everything you're looking for. Corey and I started CHTV as a place to give our opinion - so you'll never get less of it.

As for my thoughts on stats and football, I suggest reading here: http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/what-stat-geeks-dont-get

And here: http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/talking-football-with-stat-geeks

CSS's picture

And those websites, though informative and entertaining, function as a starting point for any conversation or debate. They don't always take into account formations, personnel, individual assignments (they couldn't possibly know) audibles, situational match-ups, etc.

They parse statistics in the context of individual match-ups, not schematic (or at least they tend to be guessing on the schematic/assignment end) and either over-reward or over-punish player performance analysis as a byproduct.

PackersRS's picture

Thanks for the compliment, but I think you're seriously undervaluating the huge work these guys do, bringing quality content regularly.

I have good ideas now and then. This idea, in fact, is not mine, it's from the guys at CHHF, from the article they've referenced. And not all my ideas are stats based, and I trully think that different stats are relevant to different football philosophies.

I'm not sure that QB rating differential is the best stat to determinate success. But it's the best one I've seen, by far.

That, and turnovers. I'd say QB rating differential is best used for a season, and turnovers for a game. But a lot of stat geeks hate turnovers, because they're much more unpredictable than yards or 3rd down conversions. They're right to some extent, but there're instances when you can identify patterns, like the Packers, that since Dom Capers took over have been in the top 2 in turnovers every year. The Bears are also a defense that thrive on creating turnovers.

Turnovers is another stat that should be looked into, to stabilish a variance. But definitely not easy to do, hence why the stat geeks don't like it, for it's unpredictability.

Chris's picture

"Stats are for losers. You keep looking at stats, we are looking at wins" -- Raheem Morris
So true, even if he might lose his job soon.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I wonder how passer rating differential as a predictor of Super Bowl success applies to ESPN's QBR, which in my opinion is a better metric than the current quarterback rating formula the NFL recognizes, although ESPN's formula isn't perfect either.

CSS's picture

Matt Ryan had a greater QBR regular season rating than Rodgers last year while Rodgers had a sizable passer rating advantage over Ryan.

He was dead even with Vick in QBR, slightly ahead of Vick in PR. Sizable advantage to Cutler in both QBR and PR.

Can't find the defensive QBR differential.

http://espn.go.com/nfl/qbr/_/year/2010/type/player-season

http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/player/_/stat/passing/sort/quarterback...

Out of curiosity, why do you prefer QBR?

Brian Carriveau's picture

I like that it takes into effect running, penalties and sacks. Again, not a perfect metric, certainly the quarterback isn't solely responsible for those things, but I think it's more well-rounded than the older formula.

I, too, don't like the "clutch factor."

packsmack25's picture

Until ESPN releases their formula, it's not a very reliable stat. Their insistence on using the "clutch factor" is a flimsy way to calculate anything.

PackersRS's picture

I think it tries to complement QB rating but without knowing how exactly they grade players, I cannot abide for it.

Since I've read that Cold Hard Football Facts article I've been searching for a better measurement of season success, but so far I haven't found.

What that stat does is put in numbers what conventional wisdom says, and what great GMs think. That the QB is by far the most important position in football, because he influences the game the most.

Glorious80's's picture

Agree with resting AR this game. Nothing to be gained. The Marino (now Brees) record will be hard to reach in a quarter or two of play, which is all I think MM is going to allow.
Flynn and Harrell should be able to handle things. Might force GB coaches to use different tactics, ie runs and screens.
This might be a good place to work on fundamentals and experiment with strategy and personnel groups, though.

Bob's picture

Brees is a great quarterback, but do you think his stats are a little bit inflated by 11 games in domes and Lambeau & Soldier in September, and Florida, Carolina's. & Florida. Thats 16 games in ideal conditions. It didn't even rain in his outside contests.

Bugeater's picture

Please also sit Charles Woodson & Clay Matthews.

Michael from Winnipeg's picture

Play AR into the 2nd quarter. Sometime during the offense's possession in the 2nd quarter, and after converting a 2nd or 3rd down, bring out the hook, and pull him for Flynn, so that he heads to the sideline for a resounding cheer that will be heard into Michigan.

cindy's picture

Good discussion. Just a reminder that home field advantage includes a venue that is freaking inhospitable to AR's sensibilities. We need to have him (and the team) at 120%. But I don't think he'll let anyone sit him for the Lions game. Get him out ASAP please.

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