Several Packer bloggers (CheeseheadTV, Packer Geeks) beat me to writing about Matt Flynn, but only because they had similar thoughts and got it written down quicker.
My thoughts were just suspicions when I saw the first pre-season game against the Bengals on television. But when I watched the 49er game in person from the stands at Candlestick Park, I saw things in 3rd string quarterback Matt Flynn that the television camera does not show. And I am convinced that Matt Flynn will be the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
Now I am not saying that he will start ahead of Aaron Rodgers; I am saying that he will start after Rodgers goes down with the obligatory season-ending injury. I have confidence in Rodgers, I think he is a quality quarterback and I do not wish him ill, but like many other Packers fans, I see the trend that has started with his injuries, though none of them were his fault.
So in a season where Rodgers' getting injured is a given, albeit a presumptuous conjecture, the question of who is number two quarterback is important because in such a scenario that I believe is inevitable, number two will be number one. And I believe Matt Flynn is the person who will replace Aaron Rodgers for some very strong reasons. Here they are:
1. Matt Flynn is a leader, pure and simple. You can see it in how he encourages his team to come together and to follow him. You do not see it on television coverage because cameras do not focus on what happens after the play. But when you watch Flynn while at the game, you will see him drawing the players into a group into a new huddle.
He isn't waiting for them to eventually gather about twelve yards behind the line of scrimmage, he gets to where they should gather, he reaches out with his hands with several, "Come here," gestures drawing them together in a certain place in a prompt, timely manner. The third-string responds. Flynn is LEADING them, and it works.
Either you have that or you don't. Either you compel and invite men to join you or you don't. Yelling at them would not serve any team purpose, so to get them all on the same page, Matt Flynn encourages them.
Once nearing a huddle formation, Flynn claps his hands and speaks confidence, unity and optimism to his teammates. It is an art to watch. It is leadership in a pure and compelling form.
You can tell that it works from how the team bounces together out of the huddle toward the line of scrimmage. They are motivated, focussed and unified. Granted, they might perhaps be outmatched in the talent department, as was evidenced by the numerous sacks and resulting turnovers, but they went to execute the snap as a sharply unified group, and that comes from Matt Flynn.
Contrast that with the same between-plays characteristics of Brian Brohm and there is no comparison. Guys kind of end up back in the huddle and then sort of stand around until a play is called.
Despite being two inches taller at 6'4'' (Flynn is 6'2"), Brohm is a much smaller man in the leadership department, and frankly not even on the same roster as Flynn in this category. It is a noticeable and vivid contrast to see how these two quarterbacks differ in their game management styles. And their respective units reflect each quarterback's lead. The second team looks slothful and dull; the third string looks energetic and peppy.
2. Rhythm. Because of the unity, encouragement, focus and promptness that Flynn's leadership creates, his team sparks with rhythm. Almost like a drilling, marching army, they play as if they are on the same page and on a mission together. Again, though their talent might not be as great as their team unity, Flynn's leadership affects the team in that they get into a quick, smart, bouncy pattern with which a football team can move itself down field if they brought equal talent to the hike.
But the powerful point here is that if third-string players will follow a leader into a rhythm, so will first-stringers. If Matt Flynn stepped into the huddle with the Packer starters, he would eventually have the same effect on those players.
Think Doug Flutie. Though Flynn is far from a 5'9" Flutie, Doug Flutie was an effective football leader and Matt Flynn is a chip off of that block. His teams will flow and fire like a driving machine when he is matched with top NFL teammates.
3. Experience. You don't win a national championship with ineffective means; in any sport, at any level. You win because some (and hopefully all) of your players have some of the qualities that work for success. Watching Matt Flynn march his team toward a first down at Candlestick, it is hard not to think of him marching LSU down the field in that final game last year.
And you can see that he brings the same enthusiasm, the same encouragement, the same infectious optimism to the gathering of NFL players into an offensive mindset that he did with NCAA players earlier this year. You cannot buy that kind of intangible with any amount of bonus-signing money. Either men follow you or they don't.
I saw it with my own eyes, and you can quote me on this: Men Follow Matt Flynn. After Aaron Rodgers gets hurt this year, Matt Flynn the leader will be the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.