The Curious Case of Matt Flynn: NFL Starter or Perennial Backup?

Matt Flynn was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2008 as the 2nd pick in the 7th round out of LSU. As a member of the Green Bay Packers, there was no pressure on him to make an impact immediately. He had time to develop and learn behind Aaron Rodgers.

Matt Flynn as a member of the Green Bay PackersIn 2010, Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion during a Week 14 match-up against the Lions. Flynn would get his first meaningful minutes in that game. He ended up 15-26 passing for 177 yards with 1 interception as the Packers couldn’t find the endzone in the 7-3 loss to the Lions. The concussion caused Rodgers to miss the Week 15 match-up against the Patriots, giving Flynn his first career start. Flynn played well going 24-37 for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns with only 1 interception (good for a 100.2 passer rating), although the Packers lost the game 31-27.

Rodgers would return in Week 16 and Flynn wouldn’t get meaningful minutes again until Week 17 of 2011. At that point, the Packers had nothing to play for and they decided to rest Rodgers. Flynn took full advantage of his opportunity against the Lions. He went 31-44 for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns with only 1 interception and the Packers defeated the Lions 45-41. That would prove to be Flynn’s last meaningful game as a member of the Packers. Luckily for him, that was his contract year and he could potentially turn that performance into a big payday and a starting position.

A mere four weeks after his monster game, Flynn hears the news that his offensive coordinator, Joe Philbin, was just hired as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins desperately needed a quarterback and Philbin developed Flynn – good news for Flynn, right? Wrong. The Miami Dolphins were never seriously interested in signing Flynn which was made apparent by their low-ball offer.

Matt Flynn as a member of the Seattle SeahawksFlynn decided to sign a 3-year contract worth $26 million with $10 million guaranteed with the Seattle Seahawks to be their “franchise” quarterback. During the 2012 NFL draft, the Seahawks decide to draft Russell Wilson in the third round. Head Coach Pete Carroll preaches that every role on the team will need to be earned through competition, and he wasn’t kidding even after signing Flynn to a large contract in the off-season. Wilson surprised everyone during the Preseason and actually outplayed Matt Flynn.

Despite the contract, the Seahawks benched Flynn in favor of Wilson, before Flynn could even get a single start. Wilson played so well during the 2012 season that Flynn became expendable and was traded in the off-season to the Oakland Raiders, who were in desperate need of a quarterback after deciding to part with Carson Palmer.

Flynn would finally get his chance to start in the NFL, right? Wrong. Matt Flynn played poorly during the preseason, particularly Week 3 throwing three interceptions against the Bears, while battling elbow tendonitis. Flynn’s injury and poor play led to Terrelle Pryor impressing the coaches, and winning the starting job for the Raiders.

Matt Flynn as a member of the Oakland RaidersPryor would suffer a concussion during a Week 3 game against the Denver Broncos. Despite passing NFL concussion tests, Pryor displayed some concussion symptoms late Saturday night, the night before the Week 4 match-up against the Washington Redskins. Finally, Matt Flynn would get his chance to be the starting quarterback. Luckily for him, it was against the Washington Redskins’ worst ranked pass defense. Wrong again.

Flynn would complete 21-32 passes for 227 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception while fumbling twice, losing one. He failed to move the ball effectively against the Redskins and that will most likely send him back to the bench if Pryor is cleared for the Raiders’ Week 5 match-up against the San Diego Chargers.

It’s been a long tough road for Matt Flynn, first as the back-up to Jamarcus Russell as a LSU Tiger. Then as the back-up to Aaron Rodgers as a Green Bay Packer. Then being snubbed by the offensive coordinator that developed him. Then being outplayed and benched by Russell Wilson as a Seattle Seahawk. Then suffering elbow tendonitis causing him to play poorly and be surpassed by Terrelle Pryor as an Oakland Raider.

Will Matt Flynn ever get the chance to thrive as a starting NFL quarterback? Only time will tell.

[Photo Credits: As a Packer –, as a Seahawk –, as a Raider –]

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