RENTON — Tarvaris Jackson was the Seahawks No. 1 quarterback in practice Tuesday, taking the majority of the reps with the first-team offense.
That will not be the case, however, for the rest of the practices this week, nor will it be when Seattle plays its preseason opener against Tennessee Saturday night. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll announced following Tuesday’s practice that Matt Flynn will work with the starting offense for the rest of this week, and will start Saturday’s game. Carroll also said that rookie Russell Wilson, not Jackson, will be the No. 2 quarterback not just in practice this week, but also in Saturday’s game.
“This week, from tomorrow through the game, Matt’s the No. 1 quarterback,” Carroll said. “So he’ll take all the reps Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and play the game, start the football game on Saturday night, and I’d like to get him to play through the half. Then Russell will play the second half for us, and he’ll get the reps as the two.”
Now to be clear, Carroll did not declare Flynn the winner of Seattle’s much-debated three-man quarterback competition, but a week with the starting offense, and a chance to start the first preseason game certainly gives Seattle’s big offseason acquisition a good opportunity to take the reins in the battle.
Flynn, who spent the first four years of his NFL career as Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay, was the top free agent quarterback available this offseason aside from Peyton Manning. The Seahawks signed Flynn, but were not willing to hand him the starting job. This week he’ll get a prolonged chance to make his case.
“Matt has done a fantastic job so far, he’s learned the system, he’s on it, he can make all of the adjustments, all of the calls, he sees the defense really well, I love that he’s moving well in the pocket,” Carroll said. “All of the things we’re asking him to do, he’s fit that together so far, but now I need to see him in a situation where he takes over and see what that looks like.”
As last year’s starter, Jackson is a known quantity to the Seahawks, and as a result Carroll is comfortable taking reps away from him and keeping him out of Saturday’s game in order to see more from Flynn and Wilson.
“(Jackson) is solid with everything, and at this time I think I can make a little bit of a shift and cut down his reps so that we can get a really good look at Matt and at Russell,” Carroll said. “To make a big decision like this, it’s about your information that you gather, and I want really, really good information coming in so that we can make a really clear-cut choice as we do it.”
Jackson, who started 14 games last season but played the second half of the year with a partially torn pectoral muscle, has split time with Flynn and Wilson so far, and worked with the No. 1 offense when Seattle had a simulated game in Sunday’s practice, and in doing so he has shown his coaches some good things.
“T-Jack came in in great shape, he’s quicker than he was, he worked his tail off in the offseason,” Carroll said. “You could tell his arm is strong, he’s fully recovered, he knows what we’re doing.”
And while it is entirely conceivable that Carroll will give Jackson time with the No. 1 offense next week, the Seahawks coach wouldn’t commit to anything beyond Saturday. Perhaps that’s just a coach playing things close to the vest, or this could also be the first step in making Flynn the starter as long as he performs well this week.
“You’ll have to wait and see,” Carroll said when asked about next week. “Wait and see. Taking one week at a time.”
Carroll still isn’t saying when he will name a starter, but wants to make the decision, “As soon as possible, but I’m not going to rush it.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.