How fast has a significant report ever been squashed out into nothingness in regards to the NFL? There probably are not many that lasted less time than the reports of Alex Smith flying to Seattle to audition with the Seahawks for their vacant quarterback position. Perhaps it's a little harsh to call the spot filled by Tarvaris Jackson "vacant," but it's no less harsh than his completion percentage.
Seattle ended up signing Matt Flynn, and 49ers fans will be disappointed to know that they didn't heap piles and piles of delicious legal tender on him like the Arizona Cardinals did with Kevin Kolb a year ago (and again just a few days ago when they payed him $7 million dollars). No, they gave Matt Flynn a pretty reasonable deal, though it does still seem to be a bit much. With a base salary of $19 million over three years with $10 million guaranteed and another $5 million attainable in incentives, the Seahawks are not on the hook for a whole lot.
So how's the outlook for the Seahawks with the signing of Flynn? Well, we'll revisit the contract again to start these talks. Though this writer feels they are overpaying slightly, the dollar amount is actually somewhat lower than expected. This is likely because the market wasn't hot on Flynn, who was likely taking his time for a bit waiting for Peyton Manning to sign somewhere.
If he thought that the waiting might press Seattle into making a mistake, it didn't. They likely had this offer on the table for some time and Flynn tried to get more, to no avail. Which means that Flynn isn't a perfect fit with what Seattle wants out of their quarterback position. But he's their best option going forward, so what will that mean on the football field.
Given Flynn's style of play, it will likely mean an offense more oriented towards audibles. The guy is very intelligent, absorbs everything around him and makes calculated decisions. At times, his decision-making appears a lot less intelligent because he goes beyond his own limits, but they're often built with good intentions, as opposed to, say, "just winging it and hoping it goes alright."
Sure, that's yet another dig at Sir Tarvaris, but in this writer's defense, he's really not good. So back to Flynn and his decision-making ... Seattle's offense in 2012 wasn't exactly expansive, but it ended up working out that way on the field. It seemed like, when the ball was snapped, all planning took a backseat to something much more reactionary. That's not an insult, it's just the truth - but it was definitely a negative. Reactions should be starting before the ball is snapped, not afterward. You're not supposed to call a play, snap the ball, and then watch ONLY your guys and how that play is progressing with them. But that was a good portion of what Seattle ran with in 2011, mostly due to the personnel available.
So now Flynn is the personnel, and what does that mean? Again, we go back to the post-snap awareness, and Flynn excels leaps and bounds. These are things that are true about Flynn and his makeup as a quarterback. There's still not enough NFL tape on him to know if these things have translated well, but he's had plenty of time to learn in theory and grow in theory, in much the way that Aaron Rodgers certainly learned and grew in theory.
That was probably a mistake. Please pretend that "Aaron Rodgers" wasn't just said, because it might lead to unrealistic expectations.
No, Seattle fans shouldn't expect that, but you should expect an offense that runs more or less as it's supposed to. That's the gist of all of this - Flynn is a calculated quarterback who makes smart decisions and won't be overly careless with the football. He's a game manager who probably wants to show he's more than that, and that's a benefit, given some of the offensive weapons he's working with in Seattle.
There's so much that's unknown about him, though. Being smart enough to know what you need to do and legitimately being able to do what you need to do are two entirely different things, best analogized by Alex Smith over in San Francisco. That's not a comparison of the players, just noting that Flynn has it all down in theory, but with very limited tape. Smith is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league but has only just put it together.
With guys like Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin on the team, Seattle could have a great offense. Marshawn Lynch can't always be counted on (over the course of 16 games) and Zach Miller may be a fluke - those things will all be decided when Flynn takes over, and despite what you've heard about a competition, he will take over.
That being said, as noted above, the offense should run more or less as it's supposed to. There will be a better technical presence to it, and those aforementioned targets can likely expect balls to be thrown in a way that makes them not entirely unlike something catachable. But to what extent will it be effective? Nobody in the world can tell you that right now.
So how does this look for the rest of the NFC West? Well, it means that the Seahawks COULD have the best offense in the division. The Cardinals are still over-paying for a near-useless quarterback who was outplayed by John Skelton while the St. Louis Rams are coming to realize that Sam Bradford's inability to throw beyond five yards is debilitating. The 49ers, as it stands, don't really have a quarterback so that will be interesting.
When it's all said and done, Flynn looks a helluva lot better for the Seahawks than Jackson, but that's all on paper. This could turn out very well for them, or they could continue to be 7-9 year after year. You pick.