Friday, December 17, 2010

Keeping it Simple for Flynn

It appears increasingly likely that Matt Flynn will get the nod against New England this weekend – or, more precisely, his first-ever NFL start against the best team in the league on their home turf where they are 17-1 in the month of December since 2002 in freezing conditions on Sunday night on national TV with the Packers’ playoff hopes potentially on the line.  Not what I would call getting broken in gently.  If Flynn manages to win this game, he will become an instant hero and legend.  There may even be songs written about him.  Movie rights sold.

Assuming Rodgers doesn’t pass the battery of tests that the NFL requires (his official status is "doubtful" – once again, thanks a lot Malcolm Gladwell), this will be Flynn’s team Sunday.  And, as with any quarterback getting his first start, the Packers’ would be well served to keep it simple.  Dial back the playbook to try to avoid some of the miscues that were apparent in the Lions game.  McCarthy runs one of the more complex offenses in the NFL, but he will need to avoid that temptation (as he was unable to do on 4th and 1 last week) and simplify things this week.

What reading the defense could feel like for Matt Flynn.
I had time to ponder the virtues of simplicity as I stood in the drug store today trying to find a tube of Crest toothpaste.  I don’t know what your drug store looks like, but finding a tube of plain-old, “Regular Paste” Crest is like discovering the wreckage of the Titanic.  I finally unearthed one box of it on the bottom shelf shoved way in the back.  There were 26 frickin’ variations of Crest toothpaste on the shelf!  And that’s just one brand – multiply that by the dozen or so brands and you have a whole damn aisle of toothpaste choices.  It’s downright overwhelming.  If Matt Flynn sees 26 things when he drops back to pass on Sunday, he’ll freeze, get sacked and throw interceptions.  Or, like me, he’ll hurl his shopping basket into the end cap mistletoe display on aisle 8.

Maybe it’s just me getting old (41 years today), but I find more and more that simplicity trumps complexity.  Of course, for simplicity to work it has to be effective.  You can’t just have one I-formation, off-tackle run up the middle and call it a playbook.  But if the Packers could get in touch with their inner Lombardi and mix in a few power sweeps and other bread-and-butter plays and know they were going to crank off 3-5 yards per play, then we might have hope on Sunday.  But simple doesn’t seem to be in our bag of tricks this year.  This is the point in the season where the futile cries of several million Northeastern Wisconsinites begging Ted Thompson to get a running back earlier this season seem so prophetic.  This is the moment, when you need a win and your star quarterback is (likely) out, that a reliable running game to fall back on would come in handy.  But it was not to be.  And so, all we can do as Packers’ fans is expect the worst and hope for the best.


  1. Looks like the Vegas line is narrowing a bit -- was 11 and now 9. Any takers at 9?

    So is there a growing confidence around Flynn? Anticipation that Rogers pulls a cold version of Lazarus and appears at Foxboro ready to go? Or that there is a potential for a Nor'easter to pound New England on Sunday?

    My guess is the weather man is narrowing the spread. Hoping for the best on Sunday, but anticipating we are going to need some Majik to make the playoffs this year.

  2. No Rogers, No Favre, No Bueno.