As soon as the extent of Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder injury became apparent, Matt Flynn’s return was always on the cards. Rodgers and Brett Favre have, since 1992, been the only regular signal callers in Green Bay and the back ups at Lambeau (Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzein) do not exactly inspire confidence.
Rodgers has worked near miracles with a severely depleted receiving corps in the first half of the season. Having lost targets Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and James Jones for parts (if not all) of the season the Packers had still managed to acquire a 5-2 record before Rodgers injury in their week nine mach up with the Bears. Having passed for 2,218 yards, 15 Touchdowns and just 4 interceptions this year, he has proven his worth to the Packers in no uncertain terms.
Yet his worth to the side and undisputed position as top dog in Green Bay has its downsides. The quality beneath Rodgers simply is not good enough. Seneca Wallace was called into action in that game against Chicago, having been picked up by the Packers during the 2013 offseason despite uninspiring career stats. Save for the 1,532 yards passing he achieved with Seattle in 2008, his appearances have been limited at best.
Having failed to step up to the mark against the Bears (with 114 yards passing and an interception to show for his efforts), Wallace was nevertheless retained as starter for the visit of the Philadelphia Eagles. Five passes later he was done, his pulled groin muscle leading to him being placed on season ending IR.
Third stringer Scott Tolzein was left as the last man standing. He passed for 280 yards a touchdown and two interceptions against the Eagles in his professional debut and, despite Flynn’s arrival and his own lack of experience, will start against the Giants this weekend.
Enter Flynn, who is already on his third team of a disappointing season. Since lighting up Lambeau Field at the end of the 2011 season (in which his 480 yards passing and six Touchdowns helped the Packers to a 45-41 victory over Detroit) he has flattered to deceive.
A wasted year in Seattle in 2012 where he played second fiddle to Russell Wilson despite a $9 million salary was followed by an offseason trade to Oakland for the 2013 campaign. He again lost out on the starting job (this time to Terelle Pryor) and was demoted to third string after a poor showing in a defeat to the Redskins. His 227 yards through the air (with one Touchdown and one interception that was returned for a Redskins score) could not prevent a 24-14 defeat and he was released less than 6 months into his Raiders career.
A short spell in Buffalo as a back-up followed, before his unexpected return to Green Bay. Fans of the Packers expecting to see the Flynn light up the skies with a performance similar to the already mentioned Lions game near to bear a couple of telling factors in mind. Firstly the receiving corps that he is working with now is a significant downgrade on the 2011 version. Donald Driver has retired and Greg Jennings is now wearing purple in Minnesota; not to mention the injuries to key players as well.
Flynn’s career statistics also make for poor reading. In six seasons in the league he has completed a mere 109 passes for 1329 yards and 10 Touchdowns (6 of which came in one game!). His overall passer rating of 90.4 is massively inflated by his one stellar performance and he has never thrown more than 66 passes in a season.
This does not suggest a man capable of doing a better job than either Tolzein or Wallace. In fact his signing is more indicative of the fact that the Packers are massively short of options and are having to settle for what is available to them. It is a desperation move designed to try and provide the team with just enough ammunition and momentum to still be in the hunt when Rodgers is cleared to return to the field.
If Flynn does get any game time then expect to see more evidence of the man who was unable to convince Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo of his merits as an NFL quarterback. Do not expect to see the man who lit up one game in the 2011 season; the statistics do not lie and prove this performance to be the exception to the rule.
Packers fans will be desperate for their star man Rodgers to be back in action as soon as possible; his replacements will do very well to even keep the threadbare and patched up roster in the hunt for the NFC North in his absence. It would be a big surprise of they managed to do that.