Ever since Matt Flynn left the Green Bay Packers as a free agent following the 2011 season, the Packers have been playing chicken with the backup quarterback position.
The Packers knew they had Aaron Rodgers and knew that he rarely got hurt, so having a top-flight backup didn’t seem to be a top priority. Then, Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson deluded themselves into believing that the likes of Graham Harrell and Seneca Wallace could hold down the fort.
Instead of investing in the position and ensuring there was a reliable option available if Rodgers went down, the Packers continued to put it on the back burner and simply counted on Rodgers staying healthy. Yet, as we all know, the nightmare scenario came to fruition for Green Bay as Rodgers missed eight starts this past season due to a collarbone injury.
It was then and only then that the Packers realized how woefully prepared they were overcome an injury to Rodgers. Their once promising season quickly spun out of control as Wallace and fellow backup Scott Tolzien weren’t up to task leading to a streak of five consecutive games without a win.
Fortunately for the Packers, Matt Flynn, a former seventh-round draft pick of the Packers back in 2008 and Rodgers former backup was on the street, so the Packers signed him for the rest of the season as an insurance policy.
Well, thanks to the struggles of Tolzien and the season-ending injury to Wallace, Flynn was forced onto the field sooner than expected and thanks to his efforts, Green Bay was able to stay in the playoff hunt.
Flynn wasn’t spectacular by any means, but he went 2-2 as a starter and also came off the bench against the Vikings and helped Green Bay overcome a 16-point deficit in a game that ended in a tie.
In five games for the Packers, the former LSU standout completed over 61 percent of his passes, throwing seven touchdowns compared to just four interceptions and averaged 229 passing yards per game.
Flynn also engineered three dramatic comebacks, resulting in a tie against the Vikings, as well as come from behind wins against the Falcons and Cowboys — wins that saved the season and kept Green Bay in the playoff hunt.
At the end of the day, Green Bay is familiar with Flynn. He knows McCarthy’s offense and has earned his trust. When Flynn is playing quarterback, it doesn’t always look pretty, but somehow, someway he has just enough magic and playmaking ability to win games.
Make no mistake; Flynn is not Rodgers or even a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL. He’s been there, tried that and failed. He is nothing more than a backup but quality backups are becoming a rare quantity in the NFL, so if the Packers want to keep him, they should move quickly.
McCarthy has already stated that he wants Flynn back in the fold in 2014 and actually went to bat for the free agent quarterback while speaking at the NFL Owner’s Meetings this week. “I’d like to have Matt back,” McCarthy said according to Pro Football Talk. “I thought Matt was a good addition to our football team. I have great respect and admiration for him, just being around him a lot on a positional basis. Yeah, I’m hoping financially it works out.”
With McCarthy coming out so strongly in favor of Flynn’s return, it’s hard to envision a scenario where he doesn’t end up back in Green Bay next season but the Packers should think more long-term in this situation and lock him up to a multi-year deal.
A long-term deal for Flynn would not only solidify the backup quarterback spot for years to come, it would also allow the Packers to continue to develop young quarterbacks like Tolzien as long as the organization is willing to carry three quarterbacks on the roster.
Depth matters in the NFL and injuries are not an excuse. As we saw last season, Rodgers is not immune to the injury bug and if the Packers want to continue to contend for the Super Bowl they need a quality backup and that’s exactly what Flynn will give them.