Ron Jaworski threw flames to the fire on Tuesday when he ranked Matt Flynn as the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. Jaws’ ripped the NFL’s “Most Valuable Backup” with the Green Bay Packers for his lack of arm strength, rating him behind terrible quarterbacks such as Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert.
Well the Raiders most famous noodle armed quarterback is quick to defend his former team’s newest member of the Raiders quarterback fraternity, citing that arm strength is overrated (Right JaMarcus Russell?).
Gannon fumbled around the league for over a decade before he got his first real shot at being an NFL quarterback by Jon Gruden in Oakland and the rest was history. So Gannon was quick to call out Jaws.
“The thing that’s tough about Matt Flynn’s situation is that he hasn’t played a lot of football,” said Gannon. “It’s tough to evaluate a guy you’ve not seen play. I’ve seen more of Matt Flynn probably than anybody. I did Packers preseason games Matt’s first four years, I obviously watched the Patriots game where he started, I watched the Detroit Lions game he started a couple years ago and played really well, threw six touchdowns. I’ve got a good sense of who this guy is. I think from Jaws’ perspective… first of all, the fact that he has Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker rated ahead of Matt Flynn I think is ridiculous.”
“(There’s) a lot to like about Matt Flynn. Now, that being said, I don’t think he’s ever gonna be an Aaron Rodgers or a Tom Brady in terms of his arm strength or his ability to make those type of throws, but I wasn’t either. I was able to get by and participate and do the little things well.
Gannon, who is the best quarterback of the Raiders Oakland 2.0 era, is quick to remind people that there is more to being a quarterback than throwing deep go routes.
“I wasn’t known for having a cannon for an arm, but if you have great anticipation, the ball comes out quick, you understand the system… that’s one of the things that helps Matt is he’s been in the system, he’s got some background here. He ran a very similar system in Green Bay and in Seattle.”
Flynn doesn’t just remind Gannon of himself, Chad Pennington’s name was also brought to mind by the gunslinger.
“It’s about anticipation,” Gannon continued. “I’ll give you a great example; Chad Pennington, who had some really great years in New York with the Jets and just good years in Miami. In terms of quarterbacks throwing the football, he had probably the worst arm I’ve ever seen and he had some real limitations and yet he had one of the highest completion percentages in the history of football. Very accurate, could anticipate, very smart, heady guy, he’d get the ball out on time, those types of things. That’s who Matt has to be.”
Despite being a band aid, Pennington alongside Gannon might be one of the most underrated pocket passers of the 00′s. He completed 66% of his passes over 11 seasons in the NFL, pretty much every season he was healthy Pennington led offenses that were playoff teams. Gannon sees Flynn having the ability that he and Pennington had to win games by being field generals and picking apart the offense piece by piece by being the leader of a cohesive offensive unit. Flynn won games at LSU this way, but that was on a team that was better than most teams on the field ever week. In Oakland, Flynn is going to have to get the most out of the players around him for the Raiders to even have a chance at winning every week.
First things first, Flynn needs to get confidence himself, as well as confidence from his receivers and teammates.
“I just think establishing himself as the guy, as the starter. He’s gotta come in and earn the team’s respect.” Said Gannon. “It’s all about what you do on the football field and what type of impact you can make. They wanna see your work ethic. Ultimately what it boils down to is your ability to win football games, your ability to put the team in the position late in games with a chance to win. That’s gonna be critical for Matt.”
With Flynn’s obvious limitations, Gannon notes that he is going to have to have help from those around him to be able to lead the Raiders to wins in 2013 if he is the starter.
“The key for Matt is gonna be how well the team plays around him. Are they gonna get better between now and the season at tight end and wide receiver? Is Darren McFadden gonna be able to play all 16 games and have a really productive season? How’s the offensive line gonna gel? What about the new offensive coordinator and how is that all gonna work out? So, all these things are gonna factor into how well Matt plays in his first year in Oakland.”
Gannon also made sure to tell everyone to take a chill pill because Flynn has only played two games in the NFL making it very difficult to evaluate him on an extremely small body of work.
“Ron Jaworski’s one guy. He’s evaluating his position. I think it’s very difficult to evaluate Matt only from the standpoint that we don’t have a ton of film on him. But to say he’s the 32nd ranked quarterback in the NFL I think is a little ridiculous.”
Rich Gannon is one of the most successful modern Raiders and is arguably the last elite NFL quarterback the Silver and Black have had. It is promising to hear that the former Raider fan favorite is telling everyone to relax and has faith in Flynn.