Poor Matt Flynn.
He began his career playing behind—of all quarterbacks—the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers.
In 2010, while filling in for a banged-up Rodgers, Flynn nearly led an upset of Tom Brady and the Patriots in New England while throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns. When he got his opportunity to start in a Week 17 game against the Detroit Lions in early 2012, he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns.
Not bad for a seventh-round pick from LSU.
Last year, he inked a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks to be their starter. Then, Russell Wilson happened.
Now, he's on the Oakland Raiders, a team that took Terrelle Pryor in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft and added Arkansas' Tyler Wilson in Round 4 this year.
Most recently, ESPN quarterback expert Ron Jaworski ranked Flynn dead last in his annual starting quarterback rankings, which are created after the longtime analyst watches extensive film on the signal-callers.
Nothing against Jaws—he's been breaking down quarterback game tape for what seems like ages—but it's time to take his comment to task and examine if Flynn is indeed the worst starting quarterback in the NFL.
Comparing Flynn to Other 'Bad' Quarterbacks
Quarterback rating is the one statistic that does the best job of singularly classifying the play of NFL quarterbacks.
No, it's not a perfect metric, and many disagree with it on occasion, but it's the easiest way to clearly identify the good from the bad under center.
Taking QB rating a step further, for the sake of this column, I've developed a metric I'll call QB Effectiveness Rating, or QER, which can be calculated as follows:
- Completion percentage + QB Rating + (TD percentage - INT percentage)
With this statistic, quarterbacks are rewarded for higher QB ratings, completion percentages and TD percentages and are docked for higher interception percentages.
Disclaimer: This statistic is obviously far from perfect, but I figured it was logical and would be a fun, different way to analyze quarterbacks. Also, some teams don't have a sure-fire starting quarterback at this juncture, so I had to do some assuming.
Here's how some of the quarterbacks who are widely considered to be the "worst" starters in the league compare to Flynn in QER:
Flynn led the way with a QER of 156.6. Blaine Gabbert's 124.5 was the lowest.
As is the case with just about every statistic, the more a player plays the harder it is to maintain high figures. So Flynn's relatively impressive QER (better than Matt Ryan's 156.1) could mainly be attributed to his 141 professional pass attempts.
However, Flynn's numbers are significantly better than the rest of the bottom-feeder quarterbacks in the NFL today, all of who have a realistic chance to start for their respective teams in 2013.
What to Keep in Mind
Flynn sat behind Rodgers in Green Bay and lost a quarterback competition in Seattle to Wilson.
Neither circumstance should necessarily be seen as an indictment of Flynn's inability to play quarterback in the NFL, that's for sure.
Then again, the Packers' system and host of talented pass-catchers likely aided in Flynn's tremendous statistical output in his two career starts.
Because there's such a small sample size of statistics to use when comparing Flynn to his contemporaries, Jaws' film study could be the best way to go about ranking potential 2013 starters.
Is Matt Flynn the worst starting QB in the NFL?
Yet, with only 141 career attempts, in a sense, it could be equally as difficult to adequately peg how good or bad Flynn really is by simply watching his tape.
His arm strength may be visibly weaker than the average quarterback, and he's undoubtedly lacking experience.
But, in theory, we can only judge Flynn based on what he's done when he's had the chance to play in regular-season contests. Using that basis, it's wrong to label him as the worst starting quarterback in the NFL.
We've seen Gabbert, Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Brandon Weeden perform at a much lower level than Flynn. It would, therefore, be a major stretch—based on speculation more than anything else—to say the new Oakland Raiders signal-caller is worse than all five of those quarterbacks at this juncture.
If forced to answer, I'd say Gabbert is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL, but if he's disqualified due to the belief he won't start, Locker, Ponder and Weeden aren't far behind.