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Spotlight: Matt Flynn

posted by Heath Cummings on Aug 6th


Heath Cummings's thoughts

There are plenty of quarterback battles going on around the league, but Seattle may have the most jumbled mess of them all. When the Seahawks went out and gave Matt Flynn $10 million guaranteed I think many people expected he'd be handed the starting job, but that hasn't been the case so far. Incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, despite his pedestrian career statistics, is still in the hunt as is third round draft pick Russell Wilson. While there have been few clues as to who is favored in the competition, I have thoughts on all three, and the surroundings that may determine their success.

Wilson, as a 5'10" rookie, is probably the least likely to earn the starting job from day one. It's one thing to try to succeed as a sub-6 foot quarterback; it's another to try to take the reins in week one as a rookie. To do both would be quite remarkable. Still, he is arguably the most accurate of the three and has more mobility than Flynn if not Jackson. He is an incredibly smart kid and should have no problem picking up the offense. The odds of Wilson starting in week one may be slim, but he could certainly see action in 2012. The first step to that is beating out Tarvaris Jackson for the number two spot. If he does that, he probably still needs Flynn to go down to injury or struggle mightily, and the team to fall out of contention. Even if they feel Wilson is more talented than Jackson, I feel they'll go with experience if they're fighting for a playoff spot, which seems unlikely.

Jackson's main advantage seems to be familiarity. The Seahawks know what they have in him, and while he wasn't necessarily a good quarterback last year, he didn't kill them either. His feet are obviously an asset, although he didn't have much success running the ball last year, and injury concerns may keep him from doing it too much in 2012. I think it's a terrible sign for the Seahawks if Jackson wins the job, because it likely means they wasted money on Matt Flynn. I don't see how Tarvaris Jackson can win the spot in training camp, I think Matt Flynn must lose it. We know what Tarvaris Jackson is, and a couple of preseason games are not going to change that opinion. As I said above, if Flynn is terrible, or injured, I do feel like Jackson gets the nod as long as the Seahawks are in the hunt.

Flynn can never live up to the hype he himself produced with his play in the last game of 2011. There are many reasons you can't put too much stock into that game, but two that are more important than the other. For one, Jordy Nelson is not on the Seahawks roster, and no one that is stacks up to him. Nelson caught 9 balls for 162 yards in Flynn's Week 17 masterpiece, including three of the five touchdown passes. Second, and perhaps more importantly, he doesn't get to face the 2011 Lions secondary every week. Still, ask yourself this. Is there any scenario you can conjure up in which Tarvaris Jackson throws for 362 yards and five touchdowns? In 34 career starts, Jackson has mustered more than 300 yards twice, and three or more touchdowns twice. In other words, if Flynn can grasp the offense and prove that he won't turn the ball over more than Jackson, he wins the job easily.

No matter who starts, the next question becomes about their prospects in fantasy football. The recent addition of Braylon Edwards gives the Seahawks depth if nothing else at receiver. Edwards has a lot to prove, but he has talent and is still on the right side of 30. The biggest wild card is Sidney Rice, who could turn back into a star with Flynn at the helm. Unfortunately, it seems just as likely that he spends the year battling nagging injuries. Doug Baldwin is an excellent possession receiver, and could forge a nice connection with Wilson if he gets the opportunity to play. Marshawn Lynch's recent run-in with the law could be worrisome, because none of these quarterbacks are the types of guys that will succeed without a running game.

The other factor for these quarterbacks is strength of schedule, and the Seahawks schedule is considerably easier than 2011. What's more comforting for someone like Flynn is that the team's first three games come against below average pass defenses. This should ease the concern a bit that whoever wins the job may be on a short leash. It may also build some early confidence, something that is critical in meshing a new quarterback into a new offense.

Positives

  • Both Flynn and Wilson possess untapped potential, and could provide value as late round picks
  • A deep receiving corps shows promise if not consistency
  • An easy opening schedule provides opportunity for whoever wins the job to get started on the right foot

Negatives

  • The saying goes, "if you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterback". Well, the Seahawks, have three, what does that tell you?
  • The Seahawks want to run the ball a lot, and then run it some more. If Marshawn Lynch misses any time at all this offense may have a hard time getting off the ground
  • Tarvaris Jackson is still in the battle for the starting role

Final thoughts

I believe Matt Flynn wins this job and wins it convincingly. Assuming I'm right he's going to need a healthy Sidney Rice and a resurgence from either Braylon Edwards or Kellen Winslow to make any real impact in the fantasy world. If that happens and the Seahawks get rolling early we could be talking about Flynn as the sleeper quarterback of the year.

If things go badly for the Seahawks and Flynn, we may see Russell Wilson late in the year, and it will be interesting to see what he does, especially with Doug Baldwin. I would not own Tarvaris Jackson in any format.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Sabertooth said:

I think Flynn wins the job in camp. I think he struggles to do much with it though and ends up having a season much like Matt Cassel did in his first year in KC. Around 3000 yards and 15-18 touchdowns with around the same number of interceptions. If you really watch that game against Detroit, he receivers bailed him out several times against inferior defensive backs. If you have NFL rewind, go and watch the dang tape. He didn't look that great and some of those plays were made by the skin of his teeth. I don't think he's terrible, but I don't think he's going to be much more than Cassell either. I think a year from now we are discussing the chances that Russell Wilson takes this job. And I think he does have a chance to do it then but he's going to need to learn how to play QB in the NFL. Flynn has the edge there after studying at QBU under Mike McCarthy.

I don't think Tarvaris Jackson can beat out Flynn and I don't think he can hold Russell off. However I think he goes into the season as the QB2. And Russell passes him next year.

biju said:

I'm drinking to Kool-aid. I think Matt Flynn plays with more anticipation than Tarvaris Jackson can. I think he can read defenses and react accordingly. Yes, the Packers' WRs are better than Seattle's group, but at the same time Seattle's run game is much, much better and will take more pressure off the passing game to be more of a "don't turn it over" type of style that Darrell Bevell runs.

Using Tarvaris Jackson's 2011 as a base is a good start: (271 for 450 passing for 3,091 yards, 60.2% completion rate, 14 TDs and 13 INTs). I think you'll see prolonged drives over the course of the season for a higher completion rate (but not by too much) but fewer shots down the field. I think in the redzone is where Matt will standout in comparison to T-Jack so increase the TDs. I also think T-Jack took (by the nature of his "see it, throw it" view on passing) fewer chances so Matt will get a few more INTs.

I think that prolonging a few drives also strengthens the defense all that much more making it a top 5 unit, which in turn helps the offense that much more with more total drives.

I also think the guy claiming the Seahawks will start 1-5 or that Pete Carroll is about to lose his job is nuts. People outside the PNW don't realize how terrible a team he inherited and what a huge difference there is in today's starters and depth.

FF Ninja said:

Whitehurst was a dud and TJax was hurt last year. Not to mention their best WR was hurt for most of the year. Even BMW was hurt. The #1 WR on the team was an UDFA. The o-line was an injured mess. Just about everything that could've gone wrong last year did go wrong. As a team, they threw the ball 506 times with a 58.9 comp % and 6.7 ypa which netted 3389 yds 15 TD 14 INT.

Personally, I think this QB competition is overblown and Flynn starts and ends the season as the starter. I don't think he's awesome, but I don't think he's Mark Sanchez, either. And the good thing is that he doesn't have to be awesome to be an upgrade. He just has to help the running game keep the chains moving. With a healthy line, a more refined Baldwin, a healthy Rice, and a couple plus TEs (Z.Miller & Winslow) I like his weapons.

I really don't foresee a reason for Seattle to throw the ball more, so I'm going to project a nice round 500 attempts, 7.2 ypa, 3600 yds, 20 TD, 12 INT.

Jason Wood (Footballguys.com Senior Writer) said:

I'm intrigued by this situation. It sure seems like Tarvaris Jackson is the odd man out, but it would be comforting for fantasy owners if we got confirmation of that via a trade or his release. If the Seahawks keep him around, I worry about a divided locker room as well as whether Matt Flynn hasn't flashed enough to support the upside case so many of us have for him. I genuinely don't see Wilson taking the field barring injury or a complete early season meltdown by Seattle -- which are both possible, but if we're talking about what Seattle wants to happen, I think Wilson's time comes down the road.


Matt Flynn projections

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