Each Wednesday throughout the season, PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush identifies one Packers player, coach or area of the team that is most under the microscope. This week. Dan focuses on the Packers’ yet-to-be-determined QB for the game this Sunday evening against the Patriots in Foxborough.
Whether it’s Aaron Rodgers on the rebound from his second concussion this season, or backup Matt Flynn in his first pro start, the pressure under center for the Packers will be heightened in a high-profile prime-time matchup this Sunday night against Patriots QB Tom Brady, who enters Week 15 looking like a runaway choice for league MVP honors.
The final decision on Rodgers’ availability for the New England game will come Saturday, though he's reportedly not practicing this week. While it’s obvious he is the preferred choice over Flynn in a game with major playoff ramifications, it’s also obvious that Rodgers will need to be a lot sharper than he was before getting knocked out of the game late in the first half of the costly loss last week to the Lions.
As for Flynn, even though he had a couple of really bad throws in key situations in relief of Rodgers against the Lions, he did do some good things. He was poised and in control on the Packers’ first two drives of the second half, until his ill-advised endzone interception into the hands of Lions LB DeAndre Levy turned out to be a crushing mistake.
No matter who is quarterbacking for the Packers, the best-case scenario would be a sustained, well-balanced scoring drive on the first or second possession of the game that gets the Patriots’ defense back on its heels. That’s easier said than done, considering how difficult it has been much of the season for the Packers’ offense to get off to a fast start in the first quarter.
It also will be very interesting to see the extent to which either Rodgers or Flynn contributes to the run game. While Packers head coach Mike McCarthy went out of his way early in the week to admonish both of his QBs for unnecessarily putting themselves in harm's way with their scrambles, it’s worth noting how much of a key factor Rodgers’ rushing yardage has been in the Packers’ offensive success so far this season.