Flynn Takes Some Blame for Skyrocketing Sacks

What had been a renaissance season in terms of sacks allowed has regressed over the last two weeks. Matt Flynn has absorbed 12 sacks the last two weeks. In a way, the problem is understandable. And it beats the alternative.

Aaron Rodgers was injured and the Green Bay Packers' season came off the rails because of a sack.

That painful fact notwithstanding, the Packers had protected the passer better than they had for years. Through the first 10 games, Green Bay had allowed 23 sacks. Its sack rate of 6.61 percent ranked 11th in the league, a vast improvement over a 28th-ranked 9.14 percent in 2012, a 22nd-ranked 7.43 percent in 2011, a 20th-ranked 7.02 percent) in 2010, a 29th-ranked 9.22 percent in 2009 and an 18th-ranked 6.28 percent in 2008, according to league data.

With Matt Flynn at quarterback the last two weeks, the Packers have yielded 12 sacks. That's more than in any four-game stretch this season and comes on the heels of a three-game span with just three sacks allowed. Suddenly, Green Bay ranks 21st with a sack rate of 8.17 percent.

"It's not good," coach Mike McCarthy said. "You go through the five (vs. Atlanta), we assign the sack to the breakdown of the individuals involved and there's plenty of there for everybody — the line, the running back and even the quarterback.

"The game up in Detroit, I would like to think (that) is an anomaly. You get sacked seven times in a football game, there isn't a whole lot of good going on. That was definitely the case. (Against Atlanta), outside of (the sacks), I thought the pass protection was pretty good. He had a pretty good pocket to step into. Timing is definitely a part of it. The weather was a little bit of a factor in the passing game and just the way we called it and leaned on some things had something to do with it, too. We have to do a better job, that's for sure."

One thing that's for sure is Flynn isn't playing quickly enough. For the past two seasons, there has been a clock alongside the practice field. If the quarterback holds the ball for more than 2.5 seconds, a siren goes off. It's a reminder for the quarterbacks to play quickly. However, of Flynn's 12 sacks, 10 have come in 2.6 seconds or more, according to ProFootballFocus.com. In terms of total dropback time (from the snap to the pass/sack/scramble), Flynn is at 2.81 seconds. Seneca Wallace was 2.84 seconds, Rodgers was 2.67 seconds and Scott Tolzien was 2.48 seconds.

"No question, a lot of those sacks, a lot of that was on me," Flynn said. "You know, I think that will start cleaning up the more comfortable I get with what we're trying to do offensively and the routes and things like that. I think I was getting hung up on a couple receivers. I've got to do a better job and, take a lot of the fall for that."

Some of Flynn's problems stem from his lack of experience in Green Bay's scheme. While he spent his first four seasons with the Packers, he spent 2012 with Seattle and parts of 2013 with Oakland and Buffalo. He barely practiced before getting thrust into action against Minnesota, had two abbreviated practices before starting against Detroit. Last week was Flynn's first true week of practice. So, he's not quite in tune with the playbook, his receivers and the protection adjustments.

Then again, as was the case with Aaron Rodgers, there are worse things than sacks.

"One thing that we talk about is we don't want any premeditated decisions or any blind throws," quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said. "There are times when you maybe would rather like to throw the ball away, but a sack is definitely better than a turnover in that regard. Not that we push sacks on anybody, but we definitely want to do a good job taking care of the ball. He's done a nice job coming in here in a short period of time getting ready to play for us."

Assuming Flynn starts against Dallas, he should have fewer issues. This will be his second full week of practice, and Dallas ranks 31st in sack percentage.

"I'm not going to make a throw that I think there's a chance it's going to get picked, there's a chance that something bad's going to happen," Flynn said. "It's just a matter of seeing it enough times to know when it's a safe throw, when it's not a safe throw. When it's not a safe throw, get it to the next guy. There's a couple times where I just kind of hung onto it, just trying to decipher where that DB was on the receiver."


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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