“The more throws I watched, the more his arm strength limitations were evident,” Jaworski said of Flynn. “The fade, as you see here, is not an arm-strength throw. It’s more of a touch throw. In fact, I was concerned that his few deep balls lost energy at the back end. They had a tendency to die.”
Of course, Flynn’s arm strength is hardly a new issue. This time last year, Jaws had ranked Flynn as the 27th best starting quarterback in the league — this was a time before Russell Wilson. Said Jaws:
“Flynn also showed the ability to get out of the pocket and throw on the run. But the more throws I watched, the more his arm strength limitations were evident. The fade is not an arm-strength throw. It’s more of a touch throw. In fact, I was concerned that his few deep balls lost energy at the back end. They had a tendency to die.”
Whoa. Talk about déjà vu. As in 2013, the Jaws of yesteryear invoked the big sleep when describing Flynn’s deep ball, while making some less than profound comments about fade routes. The hyperbole aside, Jaworski’s comments are anything but surprising. Which is to say, Flynn’s arm strength issues have been well-documented.
His draft profile written by Anyone at AllDraftBlogsEver.com reads “lacks arm strength.” In 2011, Russ Lande cited arm strength as Flynn’s greatest weakness, observing that “the ball does not burst out of his hand and he lacks the ability to make throws that require a lot of zip beyond 25 yards.” One year later, Greg Cossel would write virtually the same thing, noting Flynn is not a “top-level passer” because throws beyond 18-22 yards are “not throws you would ask Flynn to make.”
To continually point out arm strength as a major deterrent to Flynn’s success is silly and short-sighted. Arm strength is not, and never will be, the determinant of quarterback success. In the words of Bill Walsh, “Arm strength is somewhat misleading. Some players can throw 80 yards, but they aren’t good passers. Good passing has to do with accuracy, timing, and throwing a ball with touch so it is catchable. This all involves understanding a system, the receivers in the system, and having great anticipation.”
It is the latter in which Flynn excels as a quarterback. Both Jaws and Cossell have said as much.
Cossell wrote: “His attributes, based on film breakdown of his two NFL starts, derive from his talent as a timing and rhythm passer who’s decisive with his reads and throws, and has shown good accuracy in the short to intermediate areas. He’s primarily a plant-and-throw quarterback who makes good decisions, and delivers the ball on time. One thing I liked was his pocket movement. He showed the ability to slide and maintain his downfield focus.
Jaws said: “I broke down both of Flynn’s starts: New England in 2010 and Detroit last season. What I saw was a timing and rhythm passer who’s decisive with his reads and his throws. He was consistently accurate in the short to intermediate areas. He displayed a nice feel in the pocket with some subtle movements, like this slight shoulder roll to manipulate the coverage.”
Ultimately, Flynn’s success will have less to do with his physical abilities and more to do with the abilities of his coaches. If coordinator Greg Olsen repeatedly asks Flynn to throw deep, Flynn’s tenure with the Raiders will be as tumultuous as it is short. However, if Olsen does as Walsh would do — which is manipulate the offense to accentuate Flynn’s strengths — then the Raiders could be at least sniffing a playoff spot in 2013.