By John Boyle
The Seahawks’ quarterback competition isn’t over yet.
Pete Carroll made that much clear on Tuesday, naming rookie Russell Wilson the starter for Friday’s preseason game in Kansas City. Matt Flynn, one of Seattle’s biggest signing in free agency, started each of the first two preseason games, playing the first half, while Wilson played in the second half. With Flynn getting the first-team work for two weeks, it appeared the former Green Bay Packers backup was the front-runner for the job, but Carroll still wants to see what Wilson can do playing with and against starters.
“We’re going to start Russell Wilson this week,” he said. “I’m excited to see how he does playing with the first unit. When we started this process, we had in mind that after each game we’d reevaluate and see what was the right thing to do with the though that we’d start Matt, then we would start Russell. After Week 1, I just thought that it seemed right to get more information in that same format, I thought that would help us. Whether it did or not, I don’t know, but we’re going to exercise the thought to give Russell this chance to start. He’s done a very nice job throughout and we think it’s warranted this.”
Traditionally, the third preseason game is the game in which the starters see the most playing time, but Carroll said Wilson getting the start in this particular game does not signal that the rookie has moved ahead of Flynn, but rather that Carroll wants to get Wilson a shot with the No. 1 offense.
“I know that there’s a traditional thought, conventional wisdom about game three and all of that, and I understand that,” Carroll said. “… Neither John nor I feel like we have to operate under that kind of guidance system, so we’re not, and we haven’t since we got here.”
In other words, Carroll knows you might think this is an odd approach, he just doesn’t care.
“This is about competition, that’s what we’ve always been about,” he said. “And if somebody doesn’t see it that way, then they just don’t understand us, and I can’t do anything about that.”
While Flynn has been mostly solid but unspectacular in two starts (though his numbers would have been much more impressive had Terrell Owens not dropped an easy touchdown pass), Wilson has been very impressive in his two appearances, though that came against second- and third-string defenses.
Playing in the second half of two preseason games, Wilson has completed 22 of 33 attempts for 279 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, which equates to an impressive 110.5 passer rating. He is also the Seahawks’ leading rusher in the preseason, gaining 92 yards on eight carries, including a 32-yard score that was the clincher in the win over Tennessee. Flynn has completed 17 of 26 attempts for 102 yards, no touchdowns and an interception, good for a passer rating of 56.9.
Carroll said they are still taking their time with this quarterback competition. Will they name a starter next week? Maybe. Or after the last preseason game? Perhaps. Or make us wait to see when they open the season in Arizona? That’s possible too.
“Everything’s possible,” Carroll said. “It could be all the way to that week. It’d be nice to do it as soon as possible, but that wasn’t available to us.”
Tarvaris Jackson, last year’s starter, continues to remain the odd man out in what started as a three-way battle for the starting job. Carroll said Jackson is still a part of the competition, despite his lack of playing time in preseason games and practice reps, but multiple reports have surfaced that the Seahawks will try to trade Jackson before the start of the season, or if they can’t work out a deal, release him to avoid paying Jackson’s $4 million salary.