Peyton Manning naturally dominates all free agent quarterback discussions, even though he has yet to receive a release from the Indianapolis Colts or shown that’s close to returning to full strength following the neck surgeries that forced him out of all of last season.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Drew Brees will re-sign with the Saints, so the next-hottest quarterback in the past two months belongs to Green Bay’s Matt Flynn, who figures to land a starting job when he hits the market next month.
Redskins fans repeatedly ask or predict that Flynn would fit well in D.C., but signing the LSU product could carry significant risks.
Flynn lit it up in the regular season finale, when he started against Detroit while Aaron Rodgers got the day off. But some people in the league worry that sampling wasn’t enough to go on, and they believe Flynn, who has started just two games in his career, is far too unproven for teams to sign as a franchise quarterback.
We’ve seen it before: A little-used backup quarterback shows some flashes, a team gives him money, and it turns out, he’s not so great. It appears Kevin Kolb of the Arizona Cardinals is the latest example.
Flynn put up some big numbers in that 45-41 win over the Lions, passing for 480 yards and six touchdowns. But that wasn’t exactly a game where either team seemed to care much about defense. Matthew Stafford killed it, too.
And after taking a closer look at that game, you can see that Flynn received a lot of help from his teammates — and dodged a couple of bullets — maybe moreso than he actually made a ton of plays.
For example, on his first touchdown pass, Flynn, who fumbled on his team’s first possession of the game, hit Jordy Nelson a yard off the line of scrimmage; Nelson gave a nasty stiff-arm and then trotted into the end zone.
Next touchdown: Flynn dumped the ball off to Ryan Grant, who turned the ball upfield, got some great blocks and raced 80 yards for the touchdown.
Third touchdown: Flynn actually underthrew the pass to Nelson, who had to turn around and catch it off his back shoulder and then stumble into the end zone for a 36-yard score.
Flynn went to Nelson again for his fourth touchdown pass, this time downfield and across the middle on a pass that nearly got intercepted. But Nelson made the catch and raced the rest of the way for a 58-yard touchdown.
Give Donald Driver credit on the Packers’ next touchdown play. He caught a seven-yard pass and turned it upfield, sprinting another 28 yards to the end zone.
Flynn did make a nice, well-placed throw to Jermichael Finley for his franchise-record sixth touchdown pass of the game.
All that’s not to greatly diminish Flynn’s performance. But it definitely shows a lot fell into place for him.
Beyond that, Flynn has little to show. Coming out of college, where Flynn started only one season, the knock on him was that although he could move well in the pocket and could make some nice throws, he often struggled with accuracy, placing the ball high and behind wideouts. He tended to hold onto the ball for too long and didn’t have the greatest throwing mechanics.
Flynn, who wasn’t drafted until the seventh round, likely has improved in some of those areas, and he’s probably a fine backup and possibly a half-way decent starter in the perfect situation. But that situation likely isn’t in Washington. Mike Shanahan needs to win, and if he invested money in an unproven guy such as Flynn, and the quarterback ended up struggling to transition from Green Bay’s system to Washington’s and winding up a bust, that mistake could prove rather costly. The Redskins are better off going with a more proven veteran who has played in a variety of systems, and drafting a quarterback to groom.
Now, the Miami Dolphins could be a logical destination for Flynn because they just hired Green Bay’s offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, because he knows Flynn and how to get the most out of him, and Flynn would be able to continue in the same system. But, the Dolphins also are among the teams reportedly interested in Manning. How much does that have to do with Manning being Manning, or possible doubts about Flynn’s abilities?