Manning is NFL’s The Top Prize, Flynn The Biggest Mystery
The Peyton Manning sweepstakes is on, with the latest report putting the former Colts legend on a flight to Denver to talk with the currently Tim Tebow-led Broncos. I imagine when John Elway said that the Broncos would look to add a few quarterbacks Tebow wasn’t thinking about Peyton Manning walking into the locker room. But this won’t be the last visit Manning makes, nor the last visit that Matt Flynn makes as he takes his sterling record as a starter to franchises across the NFL looking for a savior. But of course that record is shining because it comes in just 132 career passing attempts and sporting 9 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. Already it is being debated which teams will snatch up Flynn after Manning signs. One thing is for certain- whichever team signs Flynn will be getting far from a sure thing.
This is by no means a knock on Matt Flynn, unless it’s a knock to say that a lot of quarterbacks can look very good in two games of work. In Green Bay he was operating with some of the best receivers in the game in a pass-friendly offense. In his coming out party against the Detroit Lions in Week 17, Flynn torched a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the league and lacked any depth at the cornerback position. I would talk about the rest of his 2011 production but there wasn’t any of significance. Is one game against a suspect secondary enough to put the future of your franchise in his hands?
Flynn started just one season at LSU, his senior year when he completed 56.3% of his passes for 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with 6.7 yards per attempt. If he had finished the season with stats like that (with the exception of TDs and INTs since he only had 12 games) his yards/attempt would put him 22nd out of 33 qualified leaders in the NFL, and his completion percentage would have been among the very worst. Now, this is not to say that he hasn’t grown as a quarterback since then, especially with Aaron Rodgers and the exemplary staff in Green Bay as tutors. But history has shown us that small sample sizes from unheralded backups can lead to some poor decisions by general managers.
How long will Kansas City fans wait until Matt Cassel shows the ability he did in his season in New England? They are already getting impatient, and for good reason. Cassel’s injury-shortened 2009 featured a 59.5 completion percentage and 6.37 yards per attempt, a far cry from the 63.4 and 7.16 he carried with him before the Chiefs spent a second round pick to pluck him from the Patriots (along with Mike Vrabel). Cassel even carried with him a year’s worth of film to pore over. Flynn has just one game and a lot of patting on the back from Aaron Rodgers and others.
The love of Matt Flynn likely boils down to the affection for what we don’t know. It’s like that girl you glance for a second walking down the street causing your mind to wander, thinking about how amazing she could be. But even if she turns out to be wonderful she isn’t perfect, and the more you learn about her the more you have to grapple with her flaws (and your own, but that’s another kind of blog). Matt Flynn is that girl. We have seen very little of who he is, just a glimpse in that tremendous performance against the Lions. How much of a relationship do you want to commit to based on that peek?
One team will make a great commitment and will either find the missing piece in the franchise or have buyer’s remorse in a year. The top two quarterbacks on the market are an aging, established MVP and a complete unknown. Unfortunately, the history of paying a lot for relatively unknown quarterbacks tends to be about a 50-50 proposition.