Matt Flynn made sure he said all of the right things, but his smile gave him away. A million-dollar smile? Oh, no, it’ll be worth a whole lot more than that.
“A lot of guys are saying that,” Flynn said of the playful ribbing he was getting from his teammates.
Flynn, in a coming-out-party kind of performance on Sunday, beat the cold, the wind, inactivity and the Lions to score a 45-41 win that put Flynn’s name on the lips of every fan of every team in the league needing a quarterback.
What do you say about a quarterback who throws for 480 yards and six touchdowns in only his second pro start? You say, “Wow!” which is exactly what Flynn said in describing the performance of the Packers offense.
“They just read to me a couple of things we did today. Wow!” Flynn said. “I’m not sure what it’s going to mean,” he added when asked how his performance will relate to his future. “We came out today to win the game, to execute a game plan, and that’s what we did.”
How does something like this happen? How does a guy come off the bench to start a game for the first time in over a year and, on a day when the cold and wind made it tough to just walk from the car to your seat in Lambeau Field, make moving the football look so easy? How is it that no matter who the Packers plug in at quarterback, he moves the ball down the field?
Does the system deserve any credit for this?
“It would be nice to stand up here and beat your chest,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “We feel we do it the right way. Our players feel the system gives them a chance to be successful. Matt Flynn is proof of that. At the end of the day, as I always say, it’s about the players.”
Yeah, but even players-not-plays diehards need to acknowledge McCarthy’s system. He’s a former quarterbacks coach who has a magic wand in developing quarterbacks other teams don’t want. Aaron Rodgers lasted to the 24th overall pick of his draft. Flynn lasted to the seventh round. Graham Harrell was undrafted.
They are all products of the McCarthy system. They win in the system. They thrive in it. Flynn will have prospered in it after having put Sunday’s performance on tape for the league to see.
“Hopefully, this gives us a lot of momentum going forward,” he said.
“I didn’t look at it as trying to prove myself to the NFL. We talked all week. We sat down last night and talked for about an hour,” Flynn said of conversations with his mentor, Rodgers.
Rodgers was in Flynn’s ear on Sunday, helping him call plays, run the no-huddle and generally offering guidance. It’s a system of quarterbacks that play the game as much with their heads as they do with their arms and legs.
Case in point: On a play that resulted in an 80-yard screen pass and a touchdown by Ryan Grant, Flynn saw the Lions blitzing from the Packers’ left side. Grant was a safety valve on the play; Flynn could’ve thrown downfield or dumped the ball to Grant. Flynn took one look downfield and then dumped the ball to Grant, who ran the distance untouched.
“It was perfect timing,” Flynn said.
It looked, oh, so easy to do. It’s what Packers quarterbacks do; they make it look easy.
“He was calling a lot of the plays and he would give me some feedback,” Flynn said of Rodgers. “We have a great offense. We have great coaches. I’ve been here for four years and I’ve seen the offense grow each year. We’re in an offense that’s best play available. We have the freedom to do that.”
Now, Flynn heads back to the bench. Tough to do?
"Not at all,” he said. “We’ve got the best quarterback in the NFL. He’s the heart and soul of this team, the leader of this team.”
Flynn is headed for the same distinction. Additional coverage - Jan. 1