Could Matt Flynn lose his starting job again on the Oakland Raiders? (Credit)
You know what’s the only thing worse than losing your starting job to a rookie who was drafted in the third round? Getting traded to the Raiders. You know what’s the only thing worse than getting traded to the Raiders? Losing your starting job to a rookie drafted in the fourth round while on the Raiders only a season after being replaced by a rookie who was drafted in the third round. That is the all time low scenario Matt Flynn could be facing in Oakland if rookie quarterback Tyler Wilson does indeed unseat Flynn from his assumed position of starting quarterback.
The Raiders have yet to name their starting quarterback or even hint that Flynn is their guy, which is why questions are being raised. With what happened in Seattle where he lost the starting job that, like in Oakland, was assumed to be his when he was signed, you can’t really be that surprised to see it again. In Seattle, it was tough to tell whether their staff deemed Flynn not capable of being a starter in the NFL or whether they were simply wildly impressed by Russell Wilson and decided to give him a chance.
There are a few similarities between the thought process of drafting Russell and Tyler Wilson. Both players were drafted to sit for a year or two and learn while Flynn got his chance to prove whether he was the real deal or not. But, it is obvious that both teams do not completely trust Flynn because they both drafted quarterbacks on the second day. By doing that, the door is now always opened for the rookies to take the starting gig.
We have been talking about Matt Flynn for so long at this point that we mistakenly see him as an experienced veteran, but in reality, he is simply a glorified rookie. He has attempted only 141 passes more than Tyler Wilson, which can’t place too much trust in the Oakland staff.
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Other than the fact that he is not very experienced, why is he going through déjà vu all over again? When he has played, he has been impressive and obviously deserving of a starting job, which is why Seattle signed him and Oakland traded for him.
But, there has to be something else there that coaches are seeing on the practice field that is derailing their confidence in him. Being a backup is no new dance for Flynn. He struggled to find playing time at LSU while playing behind JaMarcus Russell and when his senior year came around, he suffered an ankle injury that limited his mobility and playing time. After he regained full health, his coaches were so satisfied with his backup, Ryan Perrilloux, that when Flynn came back, the two quarterbacks split time under center.
Is Flynn as unlucky as "Bad Luck Brian," or is he simply not cut out to be a starting quarterback? There are definitely a great deal of positives in Flynn’s game. He is reminiscent of a young Tom Brady with the way he carries himself in the pocket. Can someone please send medical personal to all of the Pats fans that just suffered a heart attack after reading that? But seriously, he is always calm and poised in the pocket, which is something teams definitely like about him.
He is also a smart quarterback who rarely takes unintelligent risks. If his receivers are covered, he either finds a running lane or throws the ball away. He is also fantastic at going through all of his progressions. He is not the type of quarterback to lock on one receiver for an entire play, but rather throws it to the most open guy on every play. He is also deadly accurate on the short and medium throws.
The biggest problem with Flynn on the field is that his accuracy and velocity dwindles on the deep passes. The NFL is a big boy’s game and coaches usually have less patience for a guy who lacks elite arm strength. It is easier to teach a quarterback to be accurate than it is to increase his arm strength.
Since he has lost playing time so often in situations where he did earn it, it has to make you think that coaches may not be satisfied with his mental makeup. This is complete speculation, but after hearing Pete Carroll rave about Russell Wilson’s leadership qualities a year ago, it’s possible that Flynn lacked some of his own. Maybe he does not have the fire needed to be a successful starting quarterback.
There really is no way to know for sure why he continues to be ousted by younger players, but one thing we do know is that it has to be for more than his play on the field. He has already done enough on the field to earn a chance to start for an extended period, but for the sixth season in a row, that may not happen.
It is definitely a little early to make any educated predictions about who will be starting Week 1, but the fact that the Raiders have not named a starting quarterback yet means that the spot is open for competition. And although Flynn has dominated in his short time on the game field, it has been the practice field that his given him the most trouble.
By: Matt Levine