About Matt Flynn's alleged 'popgun' arm

June, 7, 2012
6/07/12
12:18
PM ET
Once upon a time, Mike Holmgren and the Cleveland Browns were doing all they could to acquire from St. Louis the second overall choice in the 2012 NFL draft, presumably to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The Browns had "stepped up their efforts to try to acquire the No. 2 pick, going so far as to offer at least three No. 1 picks to the Rams and possibly even a second-round pick," ESPN's Adam Schefter reported at the time.

Once Washington outmaneuvered Cleveland to acquire the pick, Holmgren suggested a cozy relationship between the Rams and Redskins could have left the Browns on the outside. It sounded like spin, but the picture was only beginning to change.

Now that the Browns have identified first-round choice Brandon Weedon as their franchise quarterback, hindsight says RG3 and other prospects not named Weedon weren't such great fits after all. That sounds convenient.

[+] EnlargeFlynn
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesMatt Flynn may not have the strongest arm, but the Seahawks saw enough in the free agent to sign him for three years.
These developments would not matter much in the NFC West if the story ended there. But it does not end there.

"Of the more realistic candidates," ESPNCleveland's Tony Grossi wrote, "free agent Matt Flynn was no bigger than Colt McCoy with a similarly popgun arm. He was never seriously considered."

Paul from Richmond, Va., read those words and fired off a plea for clarification to the NFC West mailbag.

"I take it that John Schneider and Pete Carroll don't share the Browns' view of Flynn's arm, but how can one staff see an adequate NFL arm when the other sees a popgun?" Paul asked. "Mike Holmgren coached Matt Hasselbeck, who doesn't exactly have a cannon, but apparently was good enough. Does Flynn have less of an arm than Hasselbeck? Your thoughts?

Mike Sando: While we cannot hold the Browns accountable for what someone else wrote, we can assume Grossi was writing what he perceived to be the Browns' position.

Holmgren and Schneider both have long and close associations with Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson. It is conceivable both would have access to Thompson's thoughts on Flynn, a player Thompson drafted.

But it's also clear Schneider would have a much better feel for Flynn. One, Schneider was with the Packers when Green Bay drafted Flynn. He evaluated Flynn in person on a daily basis for years. Holmgren did not. Two, Schneider counts Packers coach Mike McCarthy among his close friends, conceivably giving him access to the most current and credible assessment of Flynn. Holmgren likely would not have the same access to McCarthy.

It's also reasonable to think the Seahawks and Browns both had some reservations about Flynn. Seattle did not pursue Flynn all that aggressively in free agency. Carroll and Schneider said Flynn won them over during Flynn's visit to team headquarters. That visit included a tryout on the field and coaching sessions in the classroom. That part of the evaluation should not be understated.

When personnel people discuss players with dynamic arm talent, those conversations aren't going to involve Flynn. They wouldn't involve Hasselbeck, either. Both were later-round picks in part because their raw talent wasn't off the charts.

But it's harsh to say Flynn has a "popgun" arm. For a more qualified opinion, I called 710ESPN Seattle's Brock Huard, who played for the Seahawks and has watched them practice this offseason. He also thought Flynn's arm was better than that.

As for Weedon being the Browns' most logical choice all along? Sure, he might have been, but it's awful convenient now.

"No doubt, Weedon had one of the most dynamic arms in this draft," said Huard, who also serves as a college football analyst for ESPN. "But when the play broke down and the pocket was not clean, he was the least resourceful of all these prospects. He would be a fantastic fit in a Mike Martz system, but in a West Coast system requiring some movement and resourcefulness, behind a shaky line and with questionable receivers, we'll have to watch how it plays out."

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