Yes, Matt Flynn hasn’t exactly been a playmaker for the Oakland Raiders’ passing game. But he also hasn’t been the main reason for their lack of production and efficiency.
If you watched the Raiders’ second preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, then you’ll understand exactly what I mean. While Flynn might have limitations in terms of arm strength, you can’t blame him for being pummeled by the pass rush on almost every dropback.
If anything, Flynn’s performance against the Saints was impressive. Even in the face of immense pressure, he stayed cool. On a couple of snaps, he avoided defenders running free and managed to avoid taking big losses. For a guy that has quickly become a scapegoat for the Raiders’ on-field woes, Flynn is playing better than the media would have you believe.
Instead, place the blame on arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL.
When looking at his stat line, people tend to point out Flynn’s fumble as a cause for concern. Well if you saw the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, you’d see that his fumble came after getting blindsided by a delayed blitzer who ran free. While it’s the quarterback’s job to read blitzes and adjust accordingly, you can’t knock him for not having eyes in the back of his head to see Sean Lee closing like a crazed badger.
What made matters worse was the fact that starting left tackle Jared Veldheer, one of the top young blindside blockers in the NFL, is out for at least a couple months with a torn triceps muscle. The Raiders only had two reliable offensive lineman, and Veldheer was one of them.
After Veldheer fell, the Raiders were forced to insert Alex Barron into the starting lineup. Not exactly a promising scenario for Flynn.
On Friday, Barron looked like a human turnstile. He was routinely outmatched on the outside, even though the Saints lack a dominant edge rusher. When he wasn’t committing false starts, Barron was proving why no team had put him on the field since 2010.
Unless you’re Aaron Rodgers, putting up consistent numbers behind a horrid offensive line is nearly impossible. Considering that Flynn isn’t even close to his former mentor in terms of natural talent, I’d say he’s playing admirably.
We’ve all heard it before – Flynn can’t throw longer than 25 yards downfield. We get it, and the Raiders knew it when they acquired him this offseason. At least he’s stood tall in a pocket that collapses at the slightest hint of pressure and has delivered decent numbers through two preseason games.
It could be a lot worse; just look at the Minnesota Vikings’ preseason quarterback play so far.