The no-huddle system that had become of a staple of coach Mike McCarthy's offense all but disappeared when quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone at the end of the first series against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4.
Rodgers has run the no-huddle offense extensively the last several seasons, including on the entire opening series until he got hurt against the Bears, but the Packers have barely used it since -- expect in late-half or late-game situations -- until Flynn relieved the struggling Scott Tolzien in the third quarter of Sunday's 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings.
Flynn used a huddle on his first series but when he came back out for his second trailing 23-7, McCarthy gave him the OK to go to the no-huddle. From that point forward, Flynn used it almost exclusively and made up the 16-point deficit to force overtime. In the extra period, he used it again and managed a go-ahead field goal.
And he did so with only four practice snaps with the starting offense the week leading up to the game and just 12 days after he returned to the Packers, where he was the backup quarterback from 2008-11.
“He had a lot of recall in the offense,” Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said Tuesday. “And we were behind, and we needed to get going. So that was more a result of where we were in the game at that time.”
The Packers ran 24 snaps of no-huddle with Flynn in the game and only one with Tolzien. For what it's worth, Tolzien said this week that he's plenty comfortable with the no-huddle.
However, Flynn's ability to run what has been a key component to the Packers' offense during Rodgers' tenure likely played a factor in McCarthy's decision to give Flynn the starter's reps during practice on Tuesday. Although McCarthy declined to name a starter for Thursday's game at the Detroit Lions, all signs point to Flynn.
“I think any team that runs no-huddle, you get the defense on their heels, you kind of get them tired and gets us in a rhythm,” Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said. “Either way, I think the key thing is getting that first first down. I think if you look throughout the years, even this year, once we get that first first down, our possession usually turns out to be a positive, even if it's just flipping the field position.”
Make no mistake about it, Flynn doesn't have the same arm strength as Rodgers. He might not be able to match Tolzien in that area, either. Flynn threw for 218 yards and one touchdown on Sunday while completing 21 of 36 passes, many of which were on short to intermediate throws. He completed only three passes that traveled 15 yards or more in the air, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
But the Packers' offense usually operates better when it moves quickly, and Flynn pushed the tempo against the Vikings. He ran 59 plays in eight series, one of which was a one-play possession at the end of regulation.
“Guys have run it here quite a bit,” Flynn said. “But I think it was just maybe a combination of that, and a combination of receivers making plays and the running game getting going and things like that. You know once we started making a few plays, I think everyone kind of relaxed a little bit, and kind of said ‘Here we go,' so I think it was probably a combination of things.”