Here’s the sweet part for Seahawks fans: Getting a better quarterback at a cost of no draft choices.
Here’s the sweat part: He may be closer to Dave Krieg than Matt Hasselbeck. But he is obliged to be better than Tarvaris Jackson, otherwise John Schneider is going to go through a lot of stomach lining. And pray the new guy doesn’t have to be better than Peyton Manning twice a year with San Francisco.
There is some trepidation about Matt Flynn, for a reason beyond the fact that he’s made only two NFL starts: The same guys who brought Seattle Charlie Whitehurst also are saying trust us, we think Flynn has the map to football Valhalla.
That’s not quite like selling airship tickets the day after the Hindenburg explosion, but feel free to supply your own analogy.
Mind you, being a comparable to Krieg isn’t a diss — Mudbone threw for more than 38,000 yards in a 19-year NFL career, the first 12 of which were in Seattle, seven as a starter, and is a member of the team’s Ring of Honor.
He finished with a career QB rating of 81.5. Hasselbeck in 13 seasons is 82.2. Jackson, playing injured in his first year with a new team and without benefit of mini-camps and a full training camp, was 79.5.
Yes, QB rating is a single, narrow measure of quarterback impact. Still, it’s worth something as a range finder. Flynn’s rating is 92.8, but if that were truly indicative of his skills, he would have received much more than the $26 million ($10 million guaranteed) over three years he received Sunday from the Seahawks, according to ESPN.com. (FYI, Manning, who is still a free agent at this writing but was reportedly talking to Jor-El on Krypton Sunday evening, is a career 94.9 guy.)
Speaking of narrow, that’s the descriptive difference between most starting quarterbacks not in the top half-dozen or so in the NFL. As you have undoubtedly read by now, Flynn looked great in the two games he started in the four seasons he backed up Aaron Rodgers (104.1 QB rating) in Green Bay. But by the time he finishes his three years in Seattle, chances are his QB rating is going to hover in the mid-80s.
Not a crime, or even a shame. Just not the stuff of comic books. And that was always Krieg’s curse. No matter how many 300-yard games he threw, he was always one soap-dish, backwards pass from derision, contempt and degradation.
A little bit like Jackson in his first season. A little bit like Hasselbeck in his first couple of seasons in Seattle. But eventually, Hasselbeck earned sufficient chops with teammates, opponents and Seattle fans to survive the bad interception, “whirlybird” chuck, muddled drive, dubious game or even a below-average season in a ruthless industry.
The football fan’s lust for a savior at QB is a powerful, terrible thing. Everyone knows the importance of the position; far fewer understand the patience required for most QBs most of the time. It’s not fair to say that the Seahawks have quit on Jackson, but it is fair to say that NFL life isn’t fair, at least in terms of patience.
I think Jackson exceeded expectations, particularly as a newcomer with a lockout-shortened warmup, and deserved a shot to start in September, which will be said to be true, only it won’t be — Flynn has the contract, and won’t have the stigma of Jackson’s fourth-quarter mess-ups that cost the Seahawks, a team that lost five games by six points or less.
Given all the injuries to the Seahawks, including Jackson’s own torn pectoral muscle, it’s difficult to sort blame for the close-call defeats. But there is no doubt that Jackson and, ahem, Whitehurst combined to beat the Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champions, in New York, 36-25.
Ascribe it to the same inexplicable freakishness that allow Julia Roberts to marry Lyle Lovett, but funny things happen in love and quarterback-picking. Can’t know.
Kudos to the Seahawks for not over-committing to Manning nor Flynn — $10 million these days is a manageable amount. And it frees up the draft to fill needs with players who can make immediate impact.
For Flynn sake, let’s hope the followers are few who are ready to shove him down the stairs at first flop, where he will make musty contact with Krieg and Jackson, guys who are still scratching their heads about how they attracted so many shoves when so many others played the game too.