As of Monday, the Raiders have a new quarterback in 28-year-old journeyman Matt Flynn.
How can you be a journeyman if you’re only 28 years old? Well, first of all, the Raiders are already his third team, having spent time with both the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. At this point, I’ll assume you’re relatively familiar with the NFL, and that you know that both of those teams have that position in hand. So what happens when you back up an MVP/Super Bowl MVP and the proclaimed savior of a city? You become expendable, which brings us to the East Bay.
It’s safe to say that, at least for 2013, the Raiders have someone currently on their depth chart who will start all season long. That means the chances of drafting Geno Smith or Matt Barkley have decreased dramatically, and I’m inclined to say the organization is content with letting Flynn duke it out with Terelle Pryor for the starting spot. With the trade of Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland has made their direction quite clear: start fresh.
Since Al Davis passed away, general manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders have been in house-cleaning mode, evidently intent on building the organization from the ground up, with a system and players who the new regime can claim as their own. Matt Flynn will (likely) now be the face of this new era, and honestly, he’s the right choice.
Though his experience is limited (which is an understatement), he has shown flashes of potential. He has only two starts; both were for the Packers — once against the Patriots when Aaron Rodgers couldn’t play, and once against the Lions when the Packers didn’t want Rodgers to play. He did pretty well in the Pats game (though it could be argued he lost it), and broke Packers’ records for passing yards and touchdowns in the game against the Lions. Though the sample size is small, the potential is there. In fact, it was that performance against the Lions that prompted the Seahawks to go after him that following summer.
It doesn’t matter who you are; if you can break team records, for one of the oldest teams in the league, you are at least competent. It wasn’t all Flynn, as the Packers have a great supporting staff as well as a phenomenal offensive system, but it shows that if those components are taken care of, he has the ability to succeed. The Raiders do not have the system fully in place, nor does it have the players, but in time, they will. And Matt Flynn will be there to take the keys and drive.
Most importantly, though, the Raiders need someone who relishes this opportunity. The Raiders have been down for about a decade now (also an understatement), and this new front office was a breath of fresh air. Now, we are starting to slowly see the effects of their work as they clean up the heaping mess that was left behind.
Oakland has indicated they are looking for gamers, guys who are overlooked and willing to compete. Flynn was drafted in the seventh round and has been beaten out by two quarterbacks, both of whom could end up in the Hall of Fame. In the few chances he had to show off, however, he crushed it. Now, with an organization embarking on a new journey, and a team to call his own, his time is finally here. It’s completely his opportunity to lose, but if he plays like he did in those two games, he will be the face of a remade organization.