Matt Flynn is back to square one and the former Green Bay Packers quarterback is OK with that.
Four years after JaMarcus Russell played his way out of Oakland, the Raiders are turning to his former LSU teammate to set things right with a franchise in midst of an overhaul under former Packers director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie.
It’s the same scenario the 27-year-old Flynn was starring at last year when he signed a three-year $26-million contract with Seattle after spending his first four years shadowing Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
Many assumed Flynn would be the natural choice as the Seahawks’ starting quarterback given their investment, but the rapid ascension of rookie Russell Wilson left Flynn on the sideline.
The Seahawks’ 11 wins under Wilson made Flynn expendable after the season and so he was dealt from one former Packers personnel director, John Schneider, to another in Reggie McKenzie’s Raiders.
Although Flynn hasn’t played much in his first five NFL seasons – he has only two career starts on his résumé – he’s developed a knack for learning and improving without the in-game reps.
“I feel like I’ve developed the skill of getting better and improving with actually not taking that many game reps,” said Flynn at his introductory news conference earlier this week.
“I’ve played in a few games, but I’ve sat back and I’ve tried to be a sponge. Being behind Aaron Rodgers, learning from Coach McCarthy and Tom Clements in Green Bay, I tried to learn as much as I could. And spending eight, nine hours a day for four years with Aaron, I picked up a lot of things."
Flynn has been impressive in limited duty over the past five seasons with a career 92.0 quarterback rating after completing 87-of-141 passes (61.7 percent) for 1,083 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
Patience has been crucial in Flynn’s football career. He was a backup at LSU for four years until finally taking over for Russell as a fifth-year senior and leading the Tigers to a national championship.
A seventh-round pick by Green Bay in 2008, Flynn learned under another quarterback who had to wait his turn in Rodgers, who sat three years behind Brett Favre until assuming the controls with the Packers.
“Aaron and I are close and we have a good relationship,” Flynn said. “Once I got there, we hit it off and he kind of took me under his wing and we’d always talk, whether it was X’s and O’s, whether it was defenses, whether it was life, being a backup, whatever it was, we’ve talked about it. I learned a lot from him about the mental approach to being a backup; learning about the mental approach to stepping in to a starting role, being a starter, and being a leader.”
After waiting five years for his turn, could the opportunity finally be right in Oakland?
It appears so after the Raiders shipped Carson Palmer to the Cardinals this past week and the only other quarterback on the roster being a project in third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
“I couldn’t tell you that, but I know I’m going to give it my best shot,” said Flynn on if the third NFL team will be the charm. “I’m a very confident player. I’m very confident about what I bring and we’ll just see how that plays out.”
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