Flynn Seeks to Get in Tune with Offense

Will Aaron Rodgers play this Sunday against the Falcons? Matt Flynn's not sure what to expect. After a short week of preparation and a disaster against the Lions, Flynn is using extra time this week to prepare as the starter. In the process, he hopes to find a rhythm that was sorely missing last Thursday.

Thanksgiving Day may have been the most dysfunctional offensive performance of the Mike McCarthy era, dating to his first season as coach of the Green Bay Packers.

At the center of the futility against the Detroit Lions was Matt Flynn, making his first start in his second go-around with the Packers.

"There's not a whole lot of positive to take away from what we did last week, so let's forget about it and move on," said Flynn.

While the health of Flynn's elbow, his arm strength and whether Aaron Rodgers can buy enough time this week to return to the action were the prime quarterback topics on Wednesday in the locker room, Flynn was focused on other areas in preparation for another start against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

"Just getting time with the receivers, getting timing down with some of the new plays we have here that I haven't necessarily really run in practice," said Flynn. "Just kind of getting timing down and getting the communication down with the o-line and the running backs and things like that. Just all the little things you miss out not being here for a while. Just getting back on that rhythm, understanding the body language of the receivers and really what we're trying to do schematically."

The Packers' offense could get nothing going last Thursday against the Lions. The running game ran into a brick wall, pass protection was a big issue and Flynn held the ball too long at times. The Lions posted seven sacks in just 28 dropbacks. The Packers failed to score a touchdown on offense. And until the game's final drive, the Packers had just five first downs and 56 yards.

Like previous opponents of the Packers in the absence of Rodgers, the Lions stacked extra defenders near the line of scrimmage, daring the Packers to throw.

"When people are loading the box, you want to make them pay," said Flynn. "But in the same breath, you're sitting there and you're not moving the ball, you're having a lot of three-and-outs and you want to get the offense in some kind of rhythm. And so, we were calling some shots and doing some other things, just trying to get in to a rhythm."

The Packers found success taking deep shots against the New York Giants three games ago with Scott Tolzien at quarterback, though the end result was the same — a loss. Flynn relieved an ineffective Tolzien the next week against the Minnesota Vikings, leading the Packers back to an overtime tie after being down 16 in the fourth quarter. Flynn did most of his damage that day with the short passing game, including Eddie Lacy out of the backfield.

"I don't think the mind-set of people loading the box is we've got to throw the ball deep," said Flynn. "We've just got to make them respect the pass. And, you know, whatever that is, take what they give us whether it's quick throws, deep throws, whatever it is, you have to make people respect the throwing game."

If there are any limitations with Flynn's arm strength or recurring elbow tendonitis — which may have played a factor in his release from two other NFL teams (Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills) this season — the Packers do not seem that concerned.

"As far as some of the throws that Matt's made to this point," began McCarthy, "some of those are anticipation, timing. He had one today I thought was an excellent throw, I thought it was an excellent route. It's really the timing that you establish over the long haul between receiver and quarterback. But as far as his arm strength, I think he's fine. It's more getting in tune with who he's throwing to, when to throw it, making the protection adjustments — particularly the way defenses have been playing us — so, I think it's more of that."

Added Flynn of his elbow not being an issue: "Out at practice, I feel like it's 100 percent. I think I've kind of gotten the problem this last week of maybe trying to guide the ball a little too much instead of just kind of letting it cut loose a little bit, after so many negative plays and things like that, and trying to be too precise with things instead of just going out there and playing and cutting loose."

Flynn will try to do that if given the chance on Sunday. He has been bumped from the lineup unexpectedly by Rodgers one other time before, preparing for the same opponent.

"I'll prepare like I'm going to start. I don't know what's going to happen," said Flynn. "I remember my rookie year (2008) we were playing Atlanta here and I took every practice ‘rep' and they told me an hour and a half before the game that Aaron (dealing with a shoulder injury) was going to play. So, you can never tell with that guy… I know he's doing everything he can. He wants to be out there so bad."

So what are the chances of Rodgers playing and history repeating itself?

"I don't know if I'm going to put a number on it," said Flynn. "I don't know. We'll see."

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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at

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