After impatiently sitting behind Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers for four seasons, backup quarterback Matt Flynn finally thought he’d get his chance as a starting NFL quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. His initial competition was the Seahawks 2011 starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson but then rookie Russell Wilson appeared on the scene and well, we all know it wasn’t a happy ending for Flynn.
But in the NFL, everyone gets at least one second chance and for Flynn, his came with the Oakland Raiders this spring. While the team’s 2012 starting quarterback Carson Palmer was gone, its ambitious backup Terrelle Pryor became his competition and on Sunday, he’ll be running out on the field as the Raiders starting quarterback, again not Flynn.
At this point, you can’t help but think Flynn has been a failure to make the leap to an NFL starter. But does this prove that Rodgers is a system quarterback though the Packers, given his success?
For Flynn, he did have success with the Packers.
He debuted as the team’s starter on Dec. 19, 2010 against the New England Patriots thanks to a Rodgers concussion. Flynn threw three touchdown passes, 251 yards and one pick. Not bad but he is best remembered for his second start against the Detroit Lions on Jan. 1, 2012.
Flynn shined with his record-setting 480 yards and six touchdowns, catapulting him to a starting gig with the Seahawks in the offseason. Will his NFL starting quarterback dream end in 2013?
As for Rodgers, he took a different path for his starting role. Drafted by the Packers as the heir apparent to former quarterback Brett Favre, he had to hold the clip board for three seasons, finally getting a chance at the end of the 2007 to start before taking in over 2008.
To say Rodgers has been a success is an understatement but does it come from the Packers’ system? He has been surrounded by talent, consistency and a good coach. This team is dedicated to its quarterbacks; some are not (see Chicago Bears). Rodgers paid his dues and at the end of the day, he’s talented. Probably more so than Flynn, as well as many other current NFL quarterbacks.
So I’d say it’s a combination of the system and talent.
Flynn was a system quarterback with the Packers until he went to organizations that don’t build them. First the Seahawks, then the Raiders. And in this current opportunity, he has less talent around him to go to a higher level including a terrible offensive line. For Pryor, he’s been able to overcome some of this from his mobility–something Flynn doesn’t have as well as lot of arm strength.
Recently ESPN’s Ron Jaworski called Flynn “the worst starting quarterback in the NFL.” He based this on Flynn’s perceived lack of talent.
A former Raiders quarterback, who faced his own NFL struggles, came to Flynn’s defense, Rich Gannon. He said of Flynn via SB Nation’s Silver and Black Pride:
“The thing that’s tough about Matt Flynn’s situation is that he hasn’t played a lot of football. It’s tough to evaluate a guy you’ve not seen play. I’ve seen more of Matt Flynn probably than anybody. I did Packers preseason games Matt’s first four years, I obviously watched the Patriots game where he started, I watched the Detroit Lions game he started a couple years ago and played really well, threw six touchdowns. I’ve got a good sense of who this guy is…(There’s) a lot to like about Matt Flynn. Now, that being said, I don’t think he’s ever gonna be an Aaron Rodgers or a Tom Brady in terms of his arm strength or his ability to make those type of throws, but I wasn’t either. I was able to get by and participate and do the little things well.”
As the saying goes, “A person will rise to their level of incompetence.” Maybe this is the case for Flynn or maybe he’s just a victim of his circumstances not the system. I think the jury is still out.