The Seahawks are running out of needs to address. They have a left tackle. They have an offensive MVP with star quality. They have a defense that now includes pass rush + linebackers + secondary. Only one big question mark remains, and it’s a biggie.
Quarterback… How I’ve missed talking about quarterbacks over the last four months since it became obvious Seattle was drafting a pass rusher in round one.
The subject has kind of been pushed to one side, and not just because it was never a realistic option for the Seahawks at #12. Matt Flynn was evidently enough of a ‘name’ to satisfy those craving some kind of hope for the future. It probably helped that like a previous Seahawks starter, Flynn was a late round pick from the Green Bay Packers who spent time backing up a brilliant veteran. Not that this will have any bearing or relevance on whether Flynn will be a success like Matt Hasselbeck. This is a very different situation and environment.
The Seahawks also added a third round pick into the mix with Russell Wilson. And since they drafted Wilson, there’s been widespread grinning among the teams front office. Fans are hoping this is the guy if Flynn doesn’t cement the job, if not in 2012 than certainly beyond that.
Pete Carroll is again talking about competition and he’s comfortable with that. He’s thriving on that. Who wins the job? Who knows? Is Russell Wilson actually competing to start, or competing to be the #2? Again, who knows? Most people expect Matt Flynn to get his shot in 2012, which isn’t unreasonable given the investment made during free agency. If nothing else it’s a healthier competition this year than in 2011 when Tarvaris Jackson was handed the job as soon as he walked into the building.
However, this continuous competition is part of the problem. Unless Jackson retains his position at the starter, it’ll be three different starting quarterbacks in three years under Carroll, plus a failed project in Charlie Whitehurst. I’m not sure Seattle can just keep rolling through guys every year until one sticks. It kind of sounds like a good idea, but eventually you need some consistency back there. Eventually, you need to make a long term commitment and say, “this is our guy and we’re going to build around him.” Sometimes a quarterback needs more than one season to prove himself. The low cost level of Seattle’s additions so far has made each quarterback disposable and therefore easy to remove as a starter.
Even if Seattle’s offense will be based around the run, recent history suggests the Seahawks will need a quarterback of a certain quality to become consistent challengers. We can have a debate about a lasting need at receiver or on the offensive line, but Seattle’s #1 priority in the aftermath of the 2012 draft is still finding a long term option at quarterback.
That’s not to say I criticise what the team has done so far. In three drafts, they’ve simply not had the chance to draft ‘the one’. Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy were not the answer in 2010. The 2011 group of quarterbacks didn’t offer much hope and I still think the team was correct not to spend the #25 pick on Andy Dalton. In 2012, three quarterbacks left the board before the #8 pick. You can’t magic a quarterback out of the sky. However, they have to be prepared. One day they will get a chance and they need to be ready to take it, even if the prize comes with a certain price.
Wilson could be the guy. But here’s the problem and the point I was trying to make when suggesting he should be considered as a starter in 2012. If the Seahawks start Flynn and he turns out to be another Whitehurst or Jackson, I’m not convinced they can avoid going big on a quarterback unless it’s completely impossible. All it took for Dallas to move from #14 in the draft to #5 was a second round pick. Unless there’s a top-heavy situation at quarterback this year like we saw with Andrew Luck and Griffin III, the Seahawks would have to consider making a similar move if a player like Matt Barkley is available in that 3-10 range.
In doing that, you’ll never know how good Wilson could be. Maybe they’re comfortable with that situation? Maybe Wilson’s grade made him too good to pass and insurance in case the Seahawks can’t go big in 2013? Yet given that both Carroll and Schneider have gushed about the guy’s potential, I would’ve thought they’d seriously believe he has a chance to start in the league. And in that case, wouldn’t they want to know what he can do before they spend picks on a Barkley or Logan Thomas?
The idea of trying Flynn in 2012 and then maybe Wilson in 2013 – without drafting a quarterback who is instantly recognised as ‘the guy’ would be difficult to stomach if a pro-active move was conceivable.. I appreciate the philosophy of this franchise, the competition mantra, the background of John Schneider and Pete Carroll and the way they’ve dealt with quarterbacks in the past with a lot of success. But I also appreciate that this is a quarterback driven league, even if you do want to dominate with the run.
Maybe Flynn does a great job? Maybe Wilson wins the gig and makes geniuses of Seattle’s front office? Or maybe the Seahawks go into next years draft in the same position they’ve entered the last three drafts – with an unclear situation at QB. If that’s the case, there’s going to be a lot of pressure to find a solution. It will be, after all, the 20th anniversary of the teams last first round investment in a quarterback next year. And that is why it’s still the teams greatest need. No position requires long term thinking quite like the role of a quarterback. Until the Seahawks start going into an off-season programme with an unquestioned starter at the position, it will go on remaining the biggest need… and it aint close.