Point 1: Matt Flynn's "popgun arm"
Is it spin or does Matt Flynn lack the ability to spin the ball?
A month-and-a-half after the draft and almost three months after Flynn signed with Seattle, ESPNCleveland.com's Tony Grossi recently created a stir. The quarterback-starved Browns didn't make a play to sign Flynn in free agency and instead selected Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden to be their quarterback of today and the future.
Grossi is one of the more respected football writers around and more than likely was spoon-fed that information by someone in the Cleveland organization. Still, that Flynn allegedly has a "popgun arm" seems out of touch with reality.
In 2008, when he was a seventh-round pick? Sure, that statement would have been accurate at that time. But not after four years of grooming in Green Bay, including two lights-out performances in as many starts.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy was asked about Flynn's strengths at the Scouting Combine. There was no reason for McCarthy to embellish Flynn's resume; in fact, he might have been better served throwing water on the flame so Flynn might re-sign in Green Bay. Instead, McCarthy sounded like Flynn's agent.
"I'll tell you what, he's very consistent, the same guy every day," McCarthy said at the time. "I'm talking about emotionally, mentally and physically. He can make all the throws, does a very good job of running the system. The same game plan that we had in for Aaron Rodgers, we went with the same one with his opportunities. He has the ability to play the moving phase and the action phase and also drop back and throw the ball on some deep, out-breaking balls. I think he's very savvy in the pocket and people underestimate his athletic ability. He's a very good football player when he leaves the pocket."
Point 2: Flynn must have been a Boy Scout
It will be teacher vs. pupil, and the pupil proved to be an "A" student during his two starts in place of Aaron Rodgers. He went 31-of-44 for 480 yards and six touchdowns during a 45-41 victory over the Lions in the 2011 regular-season finale. The yardage and touchdown totals trump anything accomplished by Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Rodgers. In 2010 at New England, he went 24-of-37 for 251 yards and three touchdowns during a 31-27 loss.
By following the old Boy Scout mantra of "be prepared," Flynn parlayed those games into a three-year deal worth a potential $26 million.
"Just always being prepared," he told Seahawks.com writer Clare Farnsworth last week. "I never took a day at work for granted. I always came in with my lunch pail and ready to work. That's kind of the way I look at each and every day. I've always worked my tail off to know what I'm doing to better all my skills that I came with. So when the time came, I was just prepared, and ready, and excited. (When you're playing behind Rodgers) it's an easy trap to fall into not to prepare like you are the starter, when you're the backup and not getting any reps. But it's something that I learned to do, and I felt like I did it well."
Point 3: History lesson
The Packers will be making their fifth trip to Seattle in franchise history. They've gone 2-2 in those games, including a 27-17 win in 2008 and a 34-24 loss in 2006 during McCarthy's tenure.
The most famous game in the series was the Jan. 4, 2004, playoff contest at Lambeau Field, which Al Harris won with a pick-six of Matt Hasselbeck. For some context into this game, however, recall Seattle's 27-7 win at Green Bay on Nov. 1, 1999. That was Favre's first game against his former mentor, Mike Holmgren, and he responded by throwing four interceptions. Might Flynn suffer a similar fate against his mentors, McCarthy and Rodgers?
Point 4: Return of the Breno
In the same trade that gave the Packers the draft pick they used to get Flynn in the seventh round, they grabbed offensive tackle Breno Giacomini in the fifth. That pick failed miserably, with Giacomini unable to beat out even Allen Barbre in the sackapalooza that was the 2009 season. He spent two years in Green Bay, playing in just one game. He opened 2010 on the practice squad but was signed away by Seattle.
Last season, Giacomini replaced injured James Carpenter for the final seven games at right tackle. During that span, Seattle went from averaging 77.7 rushing yards per game to 134.9.
"It's definitely been a long progression, and a good one," he told Farnsworth. "You take it day by day for a few years and then finally you get a chance and you go out there and bust it."
Added assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable: "I knew the name. I didn't know a lot about him," Cable said. "But right away you could see that he had a skill set that was pretty cool; just had to refine it to fit our system. We did that, he took to it and every time you coached him he'd just get a little better and a little better. Then, opportunity knocked. He gets a chance to go in and play right tackle a bunch and he just took it and ran with it. And he did a fantastic job."
Point 5: New lease on life
After flying for the first time in 15 years, Brian Banks turned some nervous energy into a chance to earn a job on an NFL roster this week.
Banks made good on a tryout extended to him by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, showing enough promise during a workout conducted by Seattle linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. to earn an invitation to try out for the team's 90-man roster during the Seahawks' minicamp next week. He's also had a tryout with San Diego, and he will have another audition next week at Kansas City.
Banks, 26, was a heavily recruited linebacker out of Southern California who was exonerated of rape and kidnapping charges two weeks ago after serving more than five years in jail.
At the age of 17, a teenage girl Banks had known since childhood claimed he had raped her. He was arrested and, on advice of counsel, pleaded no contest to rape and an enhancement of kidnapping 10 years ago in order to avoid a possible life sentence if tried by a jury.
Banks served five years and two months in prison, but the woman later recanted her claim and offered to help Banks clear his name after he was out of jail.
Before his ordeal, Banks starred at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, attracting interest from elite college football programs USC, Ohio State and Michigan. Banks gave a verbal commitment to USC to play for Carroll his junior year in high school.
Banks said he measured in at 6-2 and 239 pounds. Because Banks has not played organized football in several years, he's facing a steep learning curve.
"We need to be very balanced about our expectations," Carroll said. "This is a long haul. It's against all odds that he could get to this point. But we're going to support the chance for him, and have a vision for what he can become more than what he is right now today, and see where it goes.
"It's going to happen quick. This is the highest level of competition that you can find in our world of football, and it's going to be very difficult. But he deserves a chance."
Point 6: Crime and punishment
Using practice video to confirm the infraction, the league's management council and the NFL Players Association determined the Seahawks violated the collective bargaining agreement's offseason workout rules regarding contact during OTAs.
According to the new CBA, contact is defined as "live" blocking, tackling, one-on-one pass rush drills, bump-and-run coverage on the perimeter defensively or the use of pads.
The Seahawks lost OTAs scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of this week, along with an additional offseason workout on Friday. Carroll said his team will be allowed to hold the team's final minicamp, a three-day camp that starts Tuesday.
"We're as competitive as you can be," Carroll said. "We have a very young football team. Most of these guys have never been in an OTA practice. And so this is their first time to get a smell of it."
Carroll believes further examination into his team's practices was sparked by a report of a shoving match during practice between receiver Ben Obomanu and rookie defensive back Jeremy Lane. It escalated when safety Earl Thomas and receivers Doug Baldwin and Mike Williams jumped in to protect their teammates, with Thomas taking a swing at Obomanu but missing his target.
Point 7: Rookie watch
In the stunner of the draft, Seattle used the 15th overall pick to take West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin. Irvin projects to a pass-rushing specialist, and despite his supreme athleticism, he was taken off some teams' draft boards because of a litany of off-the-field transgressions. The last of which came a few days after a workout with the Bears, with Irvin arrested for destruction of property after breaking a sign at a sandwich shop. As NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas put it, Irvin would "make Janoris Jenkins hesitant to party with the guy."
That said, designated pass rusher isn't exactly a part-time job in today's NFL. Plus, his ability to rocket off the ball could be lethal in home games, when the loudest crowd in the NFL can make life miserable for offensive tackles. He figures to play an important role against the Packers.
"You're talking about a guy who can change direction and work his way back underneath," Seattle GM John Schneider said. "He can get guys off-balance and bull rush them. From an athleticism standpoint, he's pretty rare."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.