Is Flynn the new Gannon?

Is Flynn the new Gannon?
April 3, 2013, 7:45 am
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This is an organization that's been down and out for a long time. They need an ass-kicker to go in there and do it.
—Rich Gannon on Matt Flynn

Rich Gannon has a sense Raiders fans may be a bit lukewarm on the acquisition this week of Matt Flynn to presumably replace Carson Palmer under center.

Gannon also has a sense of deja vu.

"They weren't enthusiastic about me in '99," Gannon howled on his SiriusXM NFL radio show "The Blitz" on Tuesday.

"They said, 'Who's this guy taking over for Jeff George? He's a backup quarterback in Kansas City.'"

Three years later, fans were singing the praises of the 2002 NFL MVP. And more than a decade after that, those same fans are still longing for a consistency at quarterback not seen since Gannon retired.

No wonder so many fans are hoping the Raiders essentially trading in the veteran Palmer for the career backup Flynn has the same result Oakland moving from George to Gannon did at the turn of the century.

[RELATED: Q & A with new Raiders QB]

Gannon, who became familiar with Flynn by working Green Bay preseason games as an analyst, is among the optimists even though the newest Raiders quarterback has all of two NFL career starts under his belt. Gannon, who had been in the league since 1987, had started 58 games before coming to Oakland.

"It doesn't take a lot," Gannon said. "This guy (Flynn) knows the system. He's got some great training and background. Doesn't have a ton of experience as a player. But you know what? He's got some skills. He's very competitive, he's athletic and I think this is a tremendous opportunity for a young player, to have his own team.

"It's not going to be perfect (but) the expectations are not going to be off the charts. He doesn't have to go out and win 12 games his first year. Just go out and play every week, play at a high level, prepare your butt off and just go have fun. That's going to be the key for Matt Flynn."

Of course, Gannon went to four Pro Bowls in his first four years in Oakland, and the Raiders went from 8-8 his first year in town to 12-4 and the AFC title game to 10-6 and the Tuck Rule game to 11-5 and the Super Bowl.

Flynn, meanwhile, figures to be the eighth different quarterback to start for the Raiders on kickoff weekend since 2004, following Gannon ('04), Kerry Collins ('05), Aaron Brooks ('06), Josh McCown ('07), JaMarcus Russell ('08-'09), Jason Campbell ('10-'11) and Palmer ('12).

The Raiders have not had a winning season since 2002 and after consecutive 8-8 finishes in '10 and '11, they fell to 4-12 last season and are in complete rebuild mode with Flynn now primed to "compete" with Terrelle Pryor.

"Every situation is different," Gannon said. "All I could tell you is if you refuse to take no for an answer and you're not afraid to demand perfection and excellence from your teammates, I think that's what he has to do. He's got to go in there and help change the culture and the environment. He's got to be more demanding.

"This is an organization that's been down and out for a long time. They need an ass-kicker to go in there and do it. They need somebody that's going to come in there and just demand it on the practice field, in the meeting rooms and I'm hoping Matt Flynn can be that guy. They haven't had one in a long time."

Beyond that, Gannon said the Raiders still needed another running back to complement Darren McFadden, more wide receivers, a tight end and "a player or two" on the offensive line to join Flynn on the offensive side of the ball.

That's why Gannon said he was "cautiously optimistic" about Flynn being the answer in Oakland. But is Flynn truly the second coming of Gannon?