It would be a serious challenge for Pete Carroll to name Matt Flynn the starter at this point. It would almost be unfair to name him the starter. Fans and media would be nitpicking every play. That is no way for a first-time starting quarterback to get his shot. That position demands split-second decisions and supreme confidence. It simply does not work if there is a question about your coaches belief in you. The truth that nobody will want to hear is that as wonderfully as Russell Wilson has played, there is still some amount of projection that must go on between pre-season play and regular season. Full game plans will be in place each week. Defenses will pull out exotic schemes that Wilson will not have ever faced, or witnessed. Arizona, for example, will be a very challenging first defense to face on the road.
That is the flip side Carroll must consider in making sure Wilson is put in the best position to reach his stratospheric potential. While fans may be all over Flynn should things not go well with him playing, other players on the team could easily start questioning whether rookie mistakes are to blame for holding the team back. Wilson is a rare rookie, but it is unrealistic to expect he will not make rookie mistakes. Every indication is that he will make far fewer than the average first-year player, but his teammates need to trust and believe in him to make this season as successful as it can be. My guess is ultimately the biggest factor in choosing Wilson over Flynn will be that the front office believes there are enough plays that only Wilson can make that he will more than offset the rookie blunders.
Wilson would enter an almost ideal fit for someone of his skill set. The defense will limit the amount of points the offense will need to score, while also providing advantageous field position and turnovers. The running game will be strong and stable. The quarterback will hopefully only need to be special on a few plays or in a few critical moments. We have seen similar approaches with rookie quarterbacks like the Jets with Mark Sanchez, the Ravens with Joe Flacco, and the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger with varying levels of success.
Sanchez posted a dismal 63.0 passer rating as a rookie, but helped lead his team to the AFC Championship. Roethlisberger managed a 98.1 passer rating and lost in the AFC Championship. Wilson is superior to Sanchez in almost every way. I’ll spend some time later going into more depth on rookie quarterbacks, but the main point here is that Wilson is not being asked to save the franchise the way Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, or even Ryan Tannehill are. The fun question to ask is what happens with the rookie of the year award if the Seahawks go 10-6, or better, and make the playoffs with Wilson at the helm? Luck, Griffin, and Tannehill ain’t going 10-6…
There were some other parts of last nights game worth noting
– Richard Sherman played his best game of the pre-season, looking like an All-Pro cornerback. He was breaking up passes throughout his time on the field, and was Dwayne Bowe’s unshakable shadow. Sherman has been good, but not great, through camp. It was nice to see him dial it up.
– Phillip Adams showed great athleticism on a blitz when he jumped up and batted down a pass. He was stationed in the nickel corner slot at the time, which is where I expect to see him once the season opens.
– Jaye Howard played another nice game, and is getting more disruptive as the pre-season progresses. He even had a great tackle on a play when he dropped into zone coverage and was in the open-field against a running back. Impressive.
– Cordarro Law got time at linebacker and flashed in pass pressure. I’ll need to watch the game again to see how he did in other situations, but the guy is an NFL athlete, and is someone I think the Seahawks would regret letting go.
– Anthony McCoy had a very nice game, and led the team in receiving. McCoy could prove to be another terrific draft choice if his improvement continues.
– I get a lot of questions about Robert Turbin. I want him to be great. I came into camp hoping to see something that got me really excited, but most of what I saw was good, not great. Last night was a great night for Turbin. He showed explosion and decisive cuts one play, and then powerful push on the next. He has also been an able blocker in blitz pick-up. There is little doubt Turbin can spell Marshawn Lynch when needed. I still need to see more before I am convinced Turbin is a future starting tailback.
– Terrell Owens dropped another pass. I do not want him on the team. At the same time, no receiver is catching more than 2-3 passes in these games. Nobody is standing out. If Golden Tate and Braylon Edwards were catching 2-3 passes each every game, Owens is safely left out. They are not. Everyone wants to say Tate has finally arrived, but he sure appears to be having yet another unproductive pre-season in the passing game. He has not convinced me he can consistently get open against NFL defenders. Edwards is a player I really like, but he has been catching one ball each game, and they are generally jump balls on go-routes. You cannot build an offense around that. Owens will remain in the mix as long as the team has not found a consistent set of receiving targets.
– Remember Ricardo Lockette?
– Remember Kris Durham?
– Sean McGrath had a nice block on one of Turbin’s big runs in the 3rd quarter. It sure looks like he is gaining on, or has already passed, Cameron Morrah.
– Charly Martin. Have I mentioned Charly Martin? Martin gets open and has good hands. The quarterbacks started finding him early in camp, and they clearly trust him. He had a fantastic block to spring Tate on the big punt return. He just may be wiggling his way onto this team, which would be a massive upset.
– Leon Washington is in trouble. I absolutely love having the guy on the team, but there are a variety of factors working against him. He is 29-years-old, has a heavier contract than the younger guys, Kregg Lumpkin has played well, Vai Taua may be better than Michael Robinson real soon, and the kickoff return rules are reducing the value of return men. I’ve talked about this for months, and am sorry to say I think his chances of making the squad are less than 50%.