We used to be in there, now we’re out here
The Seahawks are among a handful of teams in the league that need better starting quarterbacks, and the big question is whether GM John Schneider thinks the former LSU QB he helped draft in the seventh round in 2008 is good enough to pay upwards of $10 million a year.
After watching the NFL Network replay of the Detroit-Green Bay shootout, the answer seems to be yes.
It was only his second start and Flynn certainly was not perfect, but even in a swirling wind and snow he showed the kind of savvy we rarely saw from Tarvaris Jackson this season.
Granted, Flynn has the benefit of a more established offense, the high football IQs of coach Mike McCarthy and star QB Aaron Rodgers (who called the plays from the sideline) and a talented bunch of skill players. But Flynn brings a lot of his own ability to the table, too, and sure seems like he would be a worthy successor to another former Packer turned Seahawk, Matt Hasselbeck.
There are a lot of things to like about Flynn, based on that record-setting game:
**He made quick decisions on almost every play, a contrast to Jackson holding the ball too long on seemingly every play. Flynn certainly was helped by the fact that his receivers know the offense at least as well as he does, but the ball leaves his hand quickly.
**He used a lot of play action when he wasn’t in the shotgun, showing that he can play from multiple formations.
**He threw well on the move.
**He checked down when necessary, including a quick-reflex dumpoff to Ryan Grant that resulted in an 80-yard touchdown play.
**Though not possessed of Jackson’s cannon arm, Flynn threw deep quite a bit (you can’t get 480 yards without doing that) and hit a perfect 40-yarder to set up the winning touchdown.
**The Seahawks will like this: He played the entire first half in the no-huddle, getting calls from Rodgers.
**Flynn spread it to eight receivers, throwing TD passes to four of them (three to Jordy Nelson). He used his tight end a lot, hitting Jermichael Finley on 7 of 8 tries, including the winning touchdown. Zach Miller would love that kind of involvement.
**Flynn handled both two-minute drills well, finishing the game with the winning touchdown. That’s something Jackson failed to do in five chances this season.
Flynn showed poise and leadership, plus perfect accuracy, on the winning touchdown drive that started at the Packers’ 20-yard line with 2:39 left. He made perhaps his best throw of the night on third-and-4, dropping the ball perfectly into James Jones’ arms down the right sideline for 40 yards to set up first-and-goal. On second down, he hit Finley for a 4-yard TD with a laser on a quick slant.
“He kept his composure. He just told us to take it one play at a time,” veteran receiver Donald Driver told reporters. “If you’ve got a guy who can tell you that in the huddle and he’s calm, it makes everyone else calm.”
A big question is whether Flynn is the product of McCarthy’s West Coast system. The answer, of course, is yes – to a degree. But that’s a good thing for QB-needy teams that run West Coast schemes, like Seattle, Cleveland and Washington.
“Our players believe the system gives them a chance to be successful. Matt Flynn’s proof of that,” McCarthy told reporters after the game. “We’re proud that we’re able to plug in Matt Flynn and keep going. As a coach you take a lot of pride in that. But at the end of the day, it’s about the players. The credit ultimately goes to the players.”
Here’s a drive-by-drive look at Flynn’s performance:
Drive 1: His first pass was a completion to Driver for 17 yards. But the drive fizzled when he threw two incomplete passes to Nelson and then was sacked and fumbled when he couldn’t find an open receiver.
Drive 2: This drive looked in trouble when the Lions sniffed out a screen pass and Flynn’s pass fell incomplete, bringing up third-and-6. Then Flynn was flushed from the pocket, but he scrambled to his left and, while getting blasted, launched a pass 18 yards downfield to Nelson. Five plays later, Flynn hit Finley over the middle for 13 yards to set up first-and-goal. But the drive stalled after Flynn tried to squeeze a pass to a covered Driver at the goal line, and the Packers settled for a field goal.
Drive 3: Starting at the Detroit 48 after a fumble, Flynn threw a quick slant to Jones for 7 yards and a first down. Then he completed throws to Finley and Nelson to set up first-and-goal at the 7. The next play was a quick out to the flat, and Nelson broke a tackle to score.
Drive 4: The Pack went three and out when Flynn couldn’t find Nelson on third down.
Drive 5: Flynn’s first pass, to Driver, was deflected incomplete. On second down, the Lions blitzed and Flynn quickly dumped it off to Grant, who raced 80 yards for a TD.
Drive 6: Flynn started with a quick out to Jones for 12 yards. But his next pass, a quick slant to Nelson, was picked off when he telegraphed the throw.
Drive 7: On third-and-4, Flynn hit Finley over the middle for 16 yards and a first down (although the ball was behind Finley). Then Flynn overthrew Driver on the left side, but Driver had gotten tangled up with Eric Wright, who was called for pass interference – a gain of 21 yards. The Lions jumped offside on the next play due to Flynn’s hard count, so Flynn used the free play to loft a pass deep to Nelson, who made a nice catch to complete the 36-yard score.
Drive 8: The Packers got the ball with 1:46 left in the first half and ran it the first play before Flynn completed five straight short passes to set up a 47-yard field goal try that Mason Crosby missed. Flynn was quick and efficient on this drive.
Drive 9: Flynn threw incomplete deep to Jones on third-and-1.
Drive 10: Flynn focused on Nelson, hitting him with a quick out for 5 yards, a play-action comeback for 14 yards and then a play-action pass deep down the middle for a 58-yard touchdown. Flynn underthrew Nelson a little bit with two defenders trailing closely, but Nelson made a nice catch and outran them.
Drive 11: This drive went nowhere, with a sack and hold on third down.
Drive 12: The Packers ran the ball most of the way from their 31 to the Detroit 35 before Flynn hit Driver on a short pass across the middle on third-and-8, and Driver outran defenders for a 35-yard TD.
Drive 13: Flynn was sacked on third down.
Drive 14: Down 41-38 with 2:39 left, the Pack got the ball at the 20, and Flynn went to work. On the first play, he found Jones (his third option) over the middle for 16 yards. He checked down to Brandon Saine for 7 yards, then threw two incompletions to Nelson, including one in traffic that was nearly picked. Flynn found Nelson on a cross for 6 yards, setting up the play of the game: the 40-yard bull’s-eye to Jones. On second-and-goal, Flynn finished it off with the back-hip TD pass to Finley.
“He’s a talented young man who has full control of the offense,” McCarthy said of Flynn. “He’s very even keeled. We had some bumps in the road, and he just stayed the course. Those two throws he made in the two-minute drill were special. That’s what you need as a young quarterback to start building your success.”
And Flynn sure seems to be what the Seahawks need to build their success.
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