Monday, December 20, 2010

A quarterback controversy I'd like to see

Near the end of the post-game radio show after another ugly loss at home by the Seattle Seahawks, a local KJR sports commentator (Jason Puckett, I believe)—who sneeringly referred to Brett “Fa-vray” after his career-best 446-yard performance in an overtime win against the Arizona Cardinals—noted that the Sunday night game coming-up next, Green Bay at New England, would have been a lot more watchable if Aaron Rodgers was playing, and sneered that instead we would see “that Matt Flynn.”

Frankly, I doubt any of those egotistical beer-bellies on KJR remember this (or even confess that they were “surprised” after the game), but Flynn—who unfortunately was the over-blown JaMarcus Russell’s back-up for two years in college—was the starting quarterback for the LSU team that won the 2007 national championship (although it was a matter of some dispute because of the their two-losses). Flynn’s drafting in the seventh round now appears to be a steal. His 40 of 66 for 433 yards and 3 TDs in the past two games suggests that he may in fact be as talented as Rodgers; the fact that he acquitted himself remarkably in his first NFL start in a near-upset win over the NFL’s supposedly best team and best coach on their home field at least deserves worthy mention. As I noted last week, outside of new-guy mistakes in his first meaningful action against Detroit, Flynn played as if he belonged on the field after an ineffective Rodgers was knocked-out of the game. Against the invincible Patriots, only some unfortunate plays—like a reserve offensive lineman returning a kick-off 70 yards, an interception returned for a touchdown, the settling for a field goal after reaching the one-yard line in the fourth quarter, and finally Mike McCarthy’s typical bone-head clock management at the end when the Packers were in the redzone poised to score the winning touchdown—prevented this game from being an embarrassing defeat for the Patriots.

These denigrations of Favre and Flynn are, of course, emanations from the Aaron Rodgers Fan Club contingent in the football media, although being a Rodgers “fan” often appears to go-hand-in-hand with being a Favre-hater. I’ve been a Packer fan all through the ugly, bad and good years (mostly in that order), but I have not forgiven the current management of the team for its treatment of Favre after the 2007 season. Why did Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy believe that they could be so brazen in their efforts to push Favre out and Rodgers in and not alienate a large contingent of Packer fans? It all came down to one game, and it wasn’t the overtime loss to the Giants in the 2008 NFC championship game. Packer fans might recall with bemusement that Rodgers had a habit of relieving Favre in a game, and before you could say “quarterback controversy,” he would sustain a season-ending injury; when Rodgers did finally get the starting gig in 2008, my first thought was how many plays into the season it would take before Rodgers was knocked-out with another broken bone. One of the few times that Rodgers actually survived to play another day as Favre’s understudy was probably the most important game he has ever played. In week 13 of the 2007 season, the “showdown” game between Green Bay and Dallas when both teams were tied with 10-1 records, Favre was knocked-out in the second quarter. In came Rodgers, and he not only survived to the end, but put-in a respectable performance (much like Flynn); although the Packers never led in the game, Rodgers impressed many viewers by forcing Dallas to play four quarters.

If Rodgers had played poorly and the game was an embarrassing blow-out, it would have been highly unlikely that Packer management would have had the gonads to gamble with alienating Packer fans by alienating Favre in order to shoe-horn Rodgers in. I frankly still have my doubts about Rodgers’ ability to stay healthy—in which case the Packers still have their man Flynn.

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