Pete Carroll says this is an open competition at quarterback. Time to prove it by starting Russell Wilson against Kansas City next weekend.
Wilson may well be competing against second stringers in pre-season so far, but he’s gone beyond what we could reasonably expect from his two performances against the Titans and Broncos. Against Denver he lit up the second half, leading sustained scoring drives equating to three touchdowns. He’s earned his chance to show what he can do when guys like Von Miller and Champ Bailey are on the field.
Now don’t get me wrong, Matt Flynn hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong yet. He’s been OK, pleasantly average and certainly not bad. The plan may well be to give him as many first team snaps as possible so he can settle into a rhythm. I get that. I could even accept it if we hadn’t been told time and time again that this was an open competition. If it wasn’t an open competition and the plan was to prepare Flynn to start all along, they shouldn’t have bothered with the charade of giving Tarvaris Jackson any first team snaps during training camp. They should’ve pumped maximum energy into getting Flynn prepared for the new season. But they didn’t, they shared the snaps and talked about competition all the time.
I would argue Wilson has shown enough to warrant a chance with the #1 offense facing a #1 defense. And hey – why not see if Flynn can light it up in the same way in the second half?
Most reports this weekend seem to suggest Flynn is still in the driving seat in this race, but why? Simply because he’s started both games? Because he has a bit more experience, but only a bit? This weekend he flashed a very nice deep ball that should’ve been caught by Terrell Owens – and it’ll ease concerns about his arm strength. But apart from that I’m struggling to find many more stand out positives. He just about avoided two pick-sixes, risking throws that the defensive back on each occasion almost undercut. He was inaccurate on a couple of easy throws. He still looked a little hesitant at times. He should’ve had his first touchdown scoring drive but for T.O.’s gaffe, but the stat line reads two games, zero touchdown drives. Wilson has five touchdown drives.
I’m sure Flynn can be a solid game manager and I sense a lot of fans and media are prepared to roll with that. I don’t think Flynn winning this job would be a disaster. What I do think would be a disaster is not giving Wilson the maximum opportunity to prove he’s a better quarterback. I think he probably is. In fact I think he offers a lot of the positives Flynn brings to the table, but adds an X-factor that the former Green Bay QB cannot match. While Flynn is neat and tidy, Wilson makes things happen. When a play doesn’t go perfectly, Wilson will get three yards on a scramble where Flynn maybe gets sacked and loses six or eight.
People talk about experience, but am I the only one who saw a hard count drawing the offside from Wilson? Or the way he pointed at a defender mid-scramble as a way of distraction to buy an extra yard or two? Classic veteran moves. We don’t need to wait a year or for Flynn to fail to play a quarterback with bigger upside. A lot of teams start rookies these days and prosper – just ask Cincinnati or Carolina from last year.
Wilson was in the game for 11 minutes against Denver before I saw a play I didn’t like – a hesitant play action where he took an unnecessary sack. But Flynn has those too, in fact he’s had several more than Wilson in the first two games. 3rd and 17? Wilson makes it. His ability to run is good enough to be more than an play-extending measure – he can effectively break off runs and be a threat on the ground. He did a much better job in week two selling play action and looked a lot more comfortable overall.
This isn’t me saying start the guy against Arizona when it matters. Not yet anyway. But all summer we’ve gone on about a competition and Russell Wilson is winning. So it’s time to give him the chance to win this job for keeps by starting him next weekend. What have we got to lose? Remove the shackles of conservatism Seattle. Stop worrying about experience – more and more rookies thrive on it, and Wilson appears a lot more mature than the average young quarterback. Matt Flynn’s two starts for Green Bay really shouldn’t be a difference maker here and nor should his time watching Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. How many quarterbacks watched Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and never amounted to much?
Let’s not be afraid to give the rookie a shot if he’s the best performer in pre-season. Let’s see what he can do on the road against the Chiefs starting defense next weekend.