Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Packers punt Ryan, name Flynn #2 QB

News came late yesterday that the Packers released their punter of a couple years, Jon Ryan, and replaced him with former Redskins' punter, Derrick Frost. This was one of those possibilities that seemed to fly under the radar most of training camp. Ryan had a poor opening preseason game against Cincinnati, but boomed his way back to a 54.8 yards per punt average in the last two games.

Apparently, though, it was this inconsistency issue that doomed Ryan's stay with the Packers. There has never been a question about his leg strength. But, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, Ryan's punting was like a box of chocolates: you never knew what you're going to get.

The same, it would seem, could also be said about Frost, however. According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Last season, Frost started like gangbusters, averaging 45.9 yards per punt in the first three games, but his season gradually went south, starting with a poor performance against the Packers Oct. 14. He went from fourth in the league in gross average and seventh in net after three games to 28th and 16th after seven weeks." The article continued with the comparative stats: Ryan ranked ninth in gross average (44.4) and 11th in net (37.6) while Frost was 28th (41.0) in gross and 22nd in net (36.4).

So, why the move? Apparently, like many jobs, it's who you know. In this case, Packers' special teams coach, Mike Stock, had coached at Washington when Frost was first trying to land a position as an undrafted free agent. He liked Frost then. In fact, according to the above-mentioned article, "When Stock was special teams coach in Washington, he tried to get Frost to sign as an undrafted rookie, but Frost wound up signing with Philadelphia. Later, Frost attended a tryout camp for NFL Europa where he worked with Stock. 'If it makes any sense, Mike Stock is the special teams coach I know the most and haven’t played for,' Frost said."

Stock was apparently able to convince GM Ted Thompson that Frost was a safer pick to go forward with than Ryan.

Frost will also take over the holding duties on field goals and extra points from Ryan. He held for kickers all four of his seasons in the NFL and also in college at Northern Iowa.

Given that the Packers also now have a new long snapper, Brett Goode, and Frost as the new holder, and less than a week to get in sync with kicker Mason Crosby, things could be quite an adventure for the kicking game early on. Expect opposing special teams units to test things with additional pressure.

Not a situation one would have hoped for less than a week before the regular season kickoff.

Flynn named #2 QB
Not too surprisingly based upon performances in the preseason, seventh-round pick Matt Flynn was named yesterday by Coach Mike McCarthy as the immediate backup to starting QB Aaron Rodgers. He beat out the more highly regarded Brian Brohm.

According to a report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Coach McCarthy said, “We just felt Matt was a little more productive than Brian in the preseason. But it’s a competition that will continue. Matt has to hold the spot, and Brian will have an opportunity to get the spot back. Competition is healthy. They’re both young. I’ve said it all along, they just need to play; they just need reps.” But, as the article points out, most of Brohm's reps now will come with the scout team while the few backup QB snaps with the first team offense will go to Flynn.

It was clear to those watching the preseason games that -- barring the Pack picking up a veteran QB to back up Rodgers -- Flynn should have the job. Particularly in the last game against the Titans, leading an excellent two-minute drive that brought the Pack within a 2-point conversion of tying the game, Flynn reminded at least a few fans of another young gun once upon a time. What was that guy's name? Oh, yeah...Brett Favre.

Congrats, Mr. Flynn. And, Mr. Brohm...keep on keepin' on. Many Packer fans thought you were a steal in the draft. You didn't perform up to even your own expectations so far. But that's so far. There are many miles to go...