INDIANAPOLIS – General manager Ted Thompson would barely confirm that he knew who Matt Flynn was on Friday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Coach Mike McCarthy said considerably more about the Green Bay Packers backup quarterback and impending unrestricted free agent later in the day.
A number of teams could be interested in Flynn as their new starting quarterback, from the Miami Dolphins to the Seattle Seahawks to the Cleveland Browns and others, although both McCarthy and Thompson made references to the highly unlikely possibility of him staying in Green Bay. When asked by a reporter to talk about the relatively unknown Flynn, Thompson was reluctant.
“Well, he’s from East Texas, as I’m from East Texas as well, so that’s a good thing. Yeah,” Thompson replied. “Matt is a professional, he does a good job. Again, our policy is to try to keep all of our players, so we’d like to keep all our players. So I’m not going to stand here and tell all the other 31 teams what I think about Matt Flynn.”
McCarthy was happy to do so, however. Having coached Flynn since the team selected him in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, McCarthy has watched Flynn develop from a limited thrower in his first minicamp to a player the coaches felt so confident about that they didn’t alter the game plan one iota when he filled in for starter Aaron Rodgers.
When McCarthy was asked the chances of Flynn coming back to Green Bay, his first response – “I know in my conversations with matt he’d like to come back and play in Green Bay” – was slightly surprising, although the key word was “play,” something Flynn wouldn’t do behind Rodgers.
Then, McCarthy laid out Flynn’s resume for prospective interested teams.
“The other side of the fence is, he’s earned the position he’s in. In my opinion he’s ready to be an NFL starter,” McCarthy said. “The business side of it will take care of itself. I don’t know what other opportunities he’ll have, but if I was at a club and was looking for a good young quarterback, he’s definitely someone I would talk to.
“I’ll tell you what, he’s very consistent, the same guy every day. 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.
“You break down the footwork and you break down the throwing motion. We have a quarterback profile tape and we break that down. I know Matt has improved his velocity and that comes through strength and conditioning and proper, better fundamentals than when he arrived in Green Bay so he’s improved there. And probably the most important part of it, is just the total grasp of the offense.”
McCarthy said Flynn’s performances in his two regular-season starts – a 2010 loss at New England and a 480-yard, six-touchdown performance in the 2011 season finale against Detroit – provided ample evidence of how ready Flynn is to start. McCarthy likened it to the smaller sample Rodgers supplied in a 2007 relief appearance in Dallas.
“I don’t know what it looks like statistically, but Aaron had played in a couple ballgames, he played the Dallas game (in 2007), the New England game (in 2006). Matt’s had a chance to play versus New England, versus Detroit,” McCarthy said. “But based on what I see in the everyday classroom, practice field, he’s ready. It’s his time to play.
“You don’t ever know. You don’t ever know if a backup quarterback can take that next step and go out and play 16 games. I know mentally he’s ready, emotionally he’s definitely ready, but until you play the position and go play those 1,100, 1,200 snaps, that’s when you really find out. And I think Matt’s ready for that.”
That said, McCarthy acknowledged that if her were another coach – someone other than Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, the ex-Packers coordinator – there might be some reticence to signing Flynn.
“There’s information out there. If you watch Matt play from Day 1 to the last time he played against Detroit, you’re definitely going to see the rise in his performance level and really what he’s able to do physically,” McCarthy said. “But yeah, that’s a challenge. That’s a challenge. You’re trying to sign a quarterback that hasn’t been with you, and that’s why you want to hopefully develop your own. If you’re in that position … we’re talking about him, so I’m sure they’re looking at him.”
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