Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Packers' Brass Pay Considerable Price Passing Over Matt Flynn

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The job of an NFL general manager requires constantly re-evaluating a team's roster to ensure it's the best it can possibly be at any given moment in time.

The job of an NFL head coach is to take that roster and start the players that give the team its best chance of winning on any given Sunday.

Since losing Aaron Rodgers to a collarbone fracture several weeks ago, it's become abundantly clear that both the general manager and the head coach of the Packers have come up short this year in their respective duties.

There's simply no way general manager Ted Thompson had the second-best quarterback available to him on his squad when Aaron Rodgers was knocked out of the game against the Bears.

For an NFL executive that lives and dies by his "next man up" philosophy, it's obvious that Ted Thompson was not sufficiently prepared for the next man up after Rodgers. If he had been, Matt Flynn would have appeared on the field a lot sooner than the second half of the team's fourth game since losing Rodgers.

Along those lines, Mike McCarthy similarly dropped the ball in sticking with Scott Tolzein as the team's starter after Flynn was finally added to the team's 53-man roster.

Given the short time Flynn was with the Packers prior to their game against the Giants on November 17, one can understand why McCarthy might have stuck with Tolzein in that particular game. However, after Tolzein threw three picks against the Giants in a losing effort, it's impossible to understand why McCarthy wouldn't have opened up the competition for the back-up role on an ongoing basis.

After McCarthy announced Tolzein as his starter early last week, I wrote an unpopular piece (based on the comments it received) recommending that McCarthy re-evaluate his decision and more seriously consider Flynn for the role. McCarthy stuck to his guns and has consequently put the team in serious jeopardy of missing the 2013 playoffs.

Although Scott Tolzein led one scoring drive against the Vikings, he was otherwise mostly ineffective. It took a fifth punt in the middle of the third quarter for McCarthy to finally call Flynn from the bench.

Down 20-7 at that point in the third quarter, a Herculean effort was now required to win the game. And with a poised and effective Matt Flynn now leading the team, the Packers nearly did just that.

Putting up 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, Flynn improbably had the Packers knocking on the Vikings' doorstep for the winning touchdown by the end of regulation. Coming up just short, the Packers settled for a field goal to tie the game at 23 and push it to overtime. Both teams subsequently kicked field goals during the overtime session and left the field with a 26-26 tie.

As much as followers of the Packers have been frustrated with the team's defense in 2013, the Packers failure to get a win against the Vikings has to be laid at McCarthy's feet on offense.

Based on Flynn's excellent showing, McCarthy clearly picked the wrong quarterback to lead the team during this must-win game. Flynn looked like a natural behind center when he finally got into the game, much like he did in relief of Rodgers during prior years.

Although the Packers' defense did appear soft at times, the reason for their poor play was certainly tied to the Packers' hapless offense until Flynn entered the game. In harsh weather conditions, the team's defense found itself constantly on the field after too many offensive drives ended in punts. That extra effort translated into exhaustion at key moments in the latter parts of the contest.

Had Flynn started, it's more than likely the defense would have played a far more energized and effective game because they wouldn't have been forced to play from behind for most of the afternoon.
The Packers' defense gave up only six points after the start of the fourth quarter, while the offense put up 19. The defense also came up with two big stops in the last quarter.

When led by an inspired quarterback, like Rodgers or Flynn, it's clear the Packers can tap a more competitive spirit on both sides of the ball. One can only wonder how well this game might have turned out if Flynn would have started from the onset.

Instead, the Packers are now facing an extremely rocky road in qualifying for the playoffs. They might already be eliminated if it weren't for the fact that the rest of the NFC North has also looked pedestrian in recent weeks.

Should the Packers fail to reach the postseason, Mike McCarthy will likely look back on his decision to stick with Tolzein as one of the primary reasons. Likewise, Ted Thompson will probably wonder why he didn't pursue Flynn, or another capable back-up, much sooner than he actually did.

If the Packers miss the playoffs by the half-game left on the table against the Vikings, those same questions will probably be on everyone else's mind too.

Andrew Prochnow is a derivatives trader by day and a Green Bay Packers fan by night. He is a regular contributor at Yahoo Sports and The Bleacher Report. Tweet him @AndrewProchnow.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (158)