Matt Flynn vs. Former Free Agents Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson
Before anybody begins to put the "bust" label on Matt Flynn after an inevitable rough game, consider one thing. The bar set by previous free-agent quarterbacks over the last few years is not very high. Let us compare Flynn to some of the more recent free-agent quarterbacks that have had limited starting experience.
Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Cheifs.
Matt Cassel filled in for Tom Brady after a knee injury ended his season in the first game of the 2008 season. Nobody expected a quarterback who had not started a game since High School to come in and throw for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns, only 11 intercepts, and have a quarterback rating of 89.4. To avoid any hope of a controversy between Cassel and the incumbent prodigal son Tom Brady the Patriots traded him to Kansas City for a can of rocks and some of that famous barbecue. Okay, it was a bit more than that but not by much.
Cassel and veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel were shipped to Kansas City for a 2nd round draft pick. I’m still blown away by this. Poppa Belichick did his good friend and former colleague Scott Pioli a favor. Or maybe he is smarter than he looks in his vagabond-style sweatshirts. Cassel has never really lived up to the hype coming off the 2008 season when he became the 3rd highest paid quarterback behind Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. He has thrown for 7,753 yards, completing 57% of attempts for 53 touchdowns and 32 interceptions. These numbers are not the reason I would consider Cassel’s performance in KC a bust. I call him a bust because he did not live up to the hype he created for himself in 2008. He has simply not performed well enough to warrant a pay check among the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona Cardinals
When the Arizona Cardinals signed Kevin Kolb to a five-year, $63 million contract with $21 million guaranteed, a city of fans were extremely relieved. No, I’m not talking about in Glendale, Arizona. The fans in Philadelphia were ecstatic. The consensus in Philly was that the greatest move the Eagles front office has done since signing Reggie White–was convincing the NFL that Kolb was a starting-caliber quarterback.
In many Philly eyes, GM Howie Roseman “dooped” the Cardinals in to taking a player the Eagles did not want in the first place. Appearing in 19 games over his three years with Philly Kolb completed 60% of his passes for 2,082 yards, 11 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and 7 fumbles, accumulating in a quarterback rating of a whopping 62.3. In his first year in Arizona he appeared in only nine games, completed 57.7% of his passes for 9 touchdowns, 8 picks and fumbled the ball 7 times. It’s hard to tell who the bigger bust is in this scenario, Kolb himself or the Cardinal Management.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Over the course of five years Jackson bounced in and out of the starting line-up in Minnesota. He appeared in 36 games, completed 60% of his passes, for 3,948 yards, 24 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. The Seattle front office decided to bring Tarvaris in to help the offense transition to newly acquired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system, whom Jackson had played under in Minnesota.
Although the Seahawks didn’t perform as well as many had hoped, Jackson’s play wasn’t abysmal. Appearing in 15 games, Jackson threw for over 3,000 yards, completed 60% of his passes, and 14 touchdowns. The problem was with his erratic decision making leading to 13 picks. It often looked like he held on to the ball too long while waiting for fellow former-Viking Sidney Rice to get open. This caused decreased performance by the other wide receivers, such as Mike Williams. The argument could be made that given a full offseason, a healthy offensive line, as well as having Rice and Williams back from injury, Jackson could have a strong showing in 2012. However, it is this writers’ belief that he has reached his maximum potential. He obviously didn’t play well enough to keep the Seahawks from looking in other directions.
Matt Flynn, QB, Seattle Seahawks
In my opinion this is the level of competition Matt Flynn has to surpass in order to be considered a successful pick-up by the Seattle Seahawks. It is difficult to compare Flynn’s current stats because he has had limited playing time inflated by the last game of the 2011 regular season where he torched the Lions for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, if you use these other three quarterbacks as the benchmark, then all Flynn has to do is complete 60% of his passes, gain over 3,200 yards through the air, and have a +4 TD/INT ratio. That is without even considering the extremely organization-friendly contract of 3-years, $19 million, with only $10 million guaranteed.
2012 is looking very good for the 12th man in Seattle. This writer expects that Matt Flynn is the missing piece that will make the Seattle Seahawks an immediate threat to reclaim the NFC West title, and eventually another Super Bowl run.