One of the positive things about Matt Flynn getting the start Sunday against the Redskins in place of the injured Terrelle Pryor was the Raiders could finally get a chance to see how he would perform in a Raiders uniform. There were a lot of questions yet to be answered about what kind of commodity they had in Flynn. They got the answer, but it was not the answer they were hoping for.
Flynn was downright terrible. He may have lost the quarterback job in preseason by not doing enough to get the offense going but what he did in this game was much worse than being ineffective. He made mistakes. Big mistakes that cost the Raiders any chance of winning this game.
Flynn's biggest issue was his pocket presence. He was sacked seven times and almost all of them were due to his staying in the pocket too long and not feeling or seeing the rush coming. That inability to sense the rush and react accordingly was also cause for a fumble on a strip.
In total he gave up the ball three times -- an interception and two fumbles. The first one came on an interception returned for a touchdown. The Raiders were up 14-3 at the time in part because of a nice drive he led and touchdown pass he threw to Mychal Rivera.
The other touchdown was on a blocked punt and recovery in the endzone. So the Raiders got a touchdown for a score and Flynn gave a defensive touchdown right back to the Redskins.
"Obviously, I don't think he saw the field very good today," Dennis Allen said of Flynn. "I think he was obviously part of some of the sacks that we gave up in the game. . . Really it's being about seeing the field and what I talk about is seeing coverage and being able to deliver the ball, so some of those sacks are partly on him and partly on protection."
Matt Flynn was told of what his head coach said about his not seeing the field. He didn't see things quite the same way.
"I don't know, I felt like I was seeing things fairly well," said Flynn. "There were a couple times on some play-actions where there was a big jump on the line of scrimmage and I had a hard time making sure there were guys open, so I didn't want to force it by making any bad throws. I didn't think I wasn't seeing the field; I just didn't make the plays."
There might be some disconnect here with regard to what "seeing the field" means. There is a difference between that and pocket presence. He may have seen the field fine (with the glaring exception of his interception), but not stepping up in the pocket when there was one and not escaping the pocket when there wasn't one was a huge problem for him.
This is not something that he is likely to improve on either. He is in his sixth season in the NFL, albeit as a backup, and feeling pressure and reacting accordingly is something he either has or he doesn't.
Terrelle Pryor has in the past had the opposite issue. He hasn't stayed in the pocket long enough. That is actually something that can be improved upon. It's about trusting his offensive line and keeping his eyes downfield and having an inner timer that tells you when it's time to either throw the ball or make other arrangements.
The Raiders offensive line is a known issue but one that was made far worse due to Flynn's lack of awareness. Tony Pashos had been playing incredibly well and Khalif Barnes wasn't too bad either. Both were helpless to protect Flynn in this game.
Flynn was given his audition. The Raiders wanted to see what they were getting for their $6.5 million. Now they know. They're getting the same thing the Seahawks got - an expensive backup. The Seahawks were simply lucky Flynn still had some value in trade. Playing well in this game was his only chance and he blew it.