Matt Flynn and why you shouldn’t covet a back-up quarterback
The Green Bay Packers have had an impressive list of quarterbacks. Bart Starr. Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers. They all put up or are putting up huge numbers in their respective eras.
So naturally the franchise records for passing yards and touchdowns in a game now belong to Matt Flynn, the most famous back-up quarterback in America.
Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in the Packers 45-41 win over Detroit on Sunday. Those are insane numbers for any player, whether it be in the NFL, NCAA, high school, arena football, your Madden game last night, the Canadien League or the XFL (RIP). It’s the kind of performance that is going to make Flynn a ton of money this offseason.
A team desperate to replace the likes of Colt McCoy, Tarvaris Jackson, Rex Grossman or Blaine Gabbert at quarterback is going to pony up cash to try and land Flynn, who is set to become a free agent in March. My hunch is that Green Bay will franchise him so they can swing him for a first round pick.
It’s easy to make an argument for why a team should trade for Flynn, even if they have to give up a first rounder and then hand out a $50 million+ contract. The guy has NFL experience. He has learned under one of the best in Rodgers. He has proven he can win in his limited field action. He is a surer bet than handing the keys over to a rookie.
But it’s wrong, all wrong I tell you.
There is a reason that Matt Flynn doesn’t start in Green Bay. It’s because he is not better than Aaron Rodgers. You might ask, well, who is? Fair. But wouldn’t you rather draft someone who could be better than Rodgers rather than sign and trade for than someone you know is never going to be?
When you do just that, you commit to mediocrity for at least five years. Just ask the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals. The Texans traded for Matt Schaub after his impressive run as a back-up with the Falcons, the Chiefs obtained Matt Cassel to be their starter even though he had not started at USC OR with the Patriots, and the Cardinals hitched their wagon to Kolb after he lost his starting job in Philadelphia.
In nine combined starting seasons, those three have produced two playoff berths. One of those was the Texans’ run to playoffs this season in which Schaub wasn’t even the starter – third-stringer T.J. Yates is currently at the helm with Schaub injured. Cassel wasn’t really responsible for Kansas City’s berth last year – it was the year’s best rushing tandem, Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. Kolb was just downright awful this year in Arizona, much to the chagrin of Larry Fitzgerald’s fantasy owners and Cardinal fans pining for a decent successor to Kurt Warner.
Aside from the lesser talent that back-up quarterbacks possess, they are also the product of systems. They learn their offense for a few years, get comfortable, and shine in limited duty in part because they have talented offenses around them. All respect to Flynn, but he was playing the Lions defense throwing to the likes of Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley and the indomitable Donald Driver. Imagine next year in Cleveland when he is throwing to Greg Little, Mohammed Massaquoi and Evan Moore going against the Baltimore Ravens. Ewww.
Almost 100 percent of the time, the best quarterbacks are the ones that are drafted and then developed by the same team. Peyton Manning. Tom Brady. Aaron Rodgers. Eli Manning. Ben Roethlisberger. Matt Ryan. Philip Rivers. Cam Newton. Those are the guys that I want quarterbacking my team. If I’m a GM and I don’t have one of them, I’m looking to the draft – Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill all give me a brighter future than Matt Flynn.