Breaking down the trade that delivered Matt Flynn to Oakland involves a higher level of mystery than one normally encounters following a transaction of this nature. Because we are basically forced to analyze a microscopic amount of results when attempting to determine his capabilities. Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie was willing to part with a fifth-round selection in 2014, and a conditional pick in 2015, in order to secure Flynn’s services. But how effective Flynn will be now that he has been provided with an opportunity to win a starting job in open to conjecture.
Flynn was injected into prominence as a Packer in 2011, by generating a franchise record six TD passes and 480 yards against Detroit during Green Bay’s regular season finale. And he also supplied an equally impressive performance in 2010, when a concussion sidelined Aaron Rodgers, and thrust Flynn into his initial NFL start. He responded by completing 40 passes for 433 yards and three TDs, despite having to face an 11-2 Patriot team in New England. Those two outings comprise the most memorable portion of Flynn’s five years in the NFL. Because unfortunately, they are also the only starts that have occurred during his career.
A New Start For Flynn
However, it does not appear that his experience under center will remain infinitesimal once the new season commences, because all factors are aligned to propel Flynn into the role as Oakland’s top signal caller. And it has certainly taken a long time for a this type of opportunity to develop for the former seventh round draft pick, who was originally selected by the Packers in 2008. After spending his first four seasons backing up Rodgers, it appeared that Flynn would find himself taking snaps for Seattle, after the Seahawks signed him as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2012 season. But Flynn could not prohibit exceptional rookie Russell Wilson from seizing the starting job last August. As a result he was limited to only nine passing attempts last season, which increased his career total to just 141. But despite his modest body of work, Flynn will receive $6.5 million to suit up for Oakland as part of his restructured contract. That is a hefty sum to pay for a backup QB, which makes it highly probable that Flynn will eventually be anointed as the team’s starter.
A New Start For The Raider Offense
McKenzie’s decision to acquire Flynn is just the latest in a series of attempts by the Raiders to secure a reliable long-term answer at QB. In the past six years alone, the franchise has made multiple attempts to secure their premier signal caller, and have utilized several approaches while doing so. In 2007, they made the infamous selection of Jamarcus Russell with the first overall pick of the draft. In 2010, Jason Campbell was acquired from the Redskins, in exchange for a fourth round draft pick. Of course, the panicky trade for Carson Palmer that took place in 2011, cost the team their first round selection in 2012, along with this year’s second round pick. And there is the supplemental draft pick that was expended on Terrelle Pryor in 2012. Of course McKenzie is only accountable for the decision that transported the unproven Flynn from Seattle. And Pryor will soon be the lone performer from that assortment of signal callers that can pose any type of threat toward Flynn securing the starting position.
In part because Palmer will now reside on a different roster, as the 11-year veteran carries his inauspicious legacy as a Raider over to Arizona. That will include an 8-16 record as the team's starter, a deceptive TD-INT ratio of 35-30 that includes numerous scoring throws that occurred after the team had fallen far behind, and a collection of poorly thrown passes at very inopportune times. Perhaps no play personifies Palmer's tenure with Oakland, more than the one that occurred against the Falcons with 2:40 remaining in regulation on October 14, 2012. The 1-3 Raiders were in the process of delivering their best overall performance of the season, and had outplayed the unbeaten Falcons. But Palmer abruptly altered the momentum of an impressive 62-yard drive with a heavily telegraphed pass that Asante Samuel returned 79 yards for a TD. Lingering memories of Palmer’s various struggles can help Flynn build a perception that he is an upgrade from his predecessor, providing that he performs satisfactorily.
For more analysis on Palmer and his future from my colleague George Banko, click here: https://fantasyknuckleheads.com/carson-palmer-set-to-hit-free-agency/
How Flynn Impacts Oakland’s Offense
Any discussion of the Raider offense must begin with the team’s impending return to a power blocking scheme. That move will reverse last season’s ill-fated decision by HC Dennis Allen to dismantle a successful power scheme that helped the Raiders rank seventh in rushing during the 2011 season (131.9 YPG) in favor of a zone blocking scheme instituted by former OC Greg Knapp. Both Knapp and the ZBS represented complete failures, as the running game plummeted to 28th , while averaging 43 YPG less in 2012, and contributing mightily to the disappointing results that were delivered by Darren McFadden. He will attempt to regain the form that enabled him to accumulate over 1,650 total yards and 10 TDs while performing behind the power scheme in 2011. Highly durable fullback Marcel Reece also returns, and his adeptness as a receiver - 52 receptions, 496 yards in 2012 - will become extremely useful to Flynn. If the new QB can efficiently guide their offense, and avoid the untimely mistakes that characterized many of Palmer's performances, then he will increase the team’s chances of success. Because the O-line’s power blocking, McFadden’s explosiveness, and Reece’s versatility, should combine to spearhead much of the unit’s productivity.
And it will need to. Because the passing attack is lacking difference makers, and roster construction at both wide receiver and tight end remains an unfinished project. They currently do not possess a true No. 1 WR, although Denarius Moore could be anointed to assume that role. Plus, the team does not have a genuine WR2, as it would be a mistake to believe that Rod Streator can fulfill that expectation. Serious questions also remain concerning whether or not Jacoby Ford’s return will bolster their attack. There is also no clear starter at the TE position, since former #1 Brandon Myers was allowed to join the growing procession of free agents that have departed via free agency. That leaves David Ausberry and Richard Gordon as the underwhelming successors to Myers’ old starting slot. This uncertainty makes it premature to completely forecast how impactful Flynn can be with his new offense.
How The Move Impacts Flynn’s Value
Plus, it hampers any attempt to determine what type of final numbers that Flynn can attain this year. He does not possess an exhaustive body of work, and his two games as a starter occurred with an ultra-talented Green Bay unit surrounding him. That will certainly not be the case this season, considering the disconcerting lack of a legitimate WR1, WR2, and TE1. If that situation is altered in the upcoming months, it will enhance Flynn’s value, as he will benefit mightily from having playmakers at his disposal. There is reason to be confident that Oakland’s ground game should improve, and that can only help Flynn as well. Still, it is best to avoid him in your fantasy drafts, unless McKenzie upgrades the targets that Flynn can employ. And even if that takes place, search elsewhere for your QB options, until it is proven that he can be a reliable starter.