Monday, August 6, 2012

Why Seattle's QB Competition is Really, Truly, Honestly, Completely Open

This is a long one. Bring a lunch.

What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall of Pete Carroll's cranial cavity. I know, ewww, but it'd be nice to get some clarity amidst our bias and preconception. We've all got the quarterback candidates pigeonholed pretty well for ourselves by now. Tarvaris Jackson represents strength, toughness, experience, and incumbency. Matt Flynn represents the poise, mental acuity, technical skill, and the "Rodgers Factor" of developing over time. And Russell Wilson represents the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild. It's not surprising to see the fan base divided so sharply into camps depending on what they value.

Problem is, Pete may actually mean it when he says he doesn't have any more clarity than we do. I don't think people want to believe that right now. Some are worried about the declining returns of dividing camp snaps, some honestly can't imagine Flynn NOT currently being the best of the bunch so why wait, and some people aren't reading for any words except "Tarvaris Jackson cut". There's an edge of worry that's starting to seep into our opinions the longer this goes on, especially now that T-Jack is still getting significant time with the first team in camp. This stymies some people, since it's popularly assumed that Jackson is the worst QB on the roster.

This is forcing people into a tough quandary: Either Pete's full of it, or he knows something we don't. Most people assume the former, that Pete is just way too enamored with his "competition" mantra, needs to quit grandstanding and just hand the job to Flynn already. Because he won the job the moment he was signed, right? Problem is, this requires rationalization and speculation that's almost on the level of conspiracy theory. Pete's just pushing the QB's, he's trying to bump up Jackson's miniscule trade value, all his comments to the media are to be ignored, etc. And I don't want to go that route. I've learned to trust Pete. Isn't it possible that he's simply got different yardsticks for the competition than we do? And isn't it possible that Flynn might not be all that he was advertised?

It's funny that Flynn is so often compared to Matt Hasselbeck, because I think a hint to better understanding this competition might lie in revisiting Hasselbeck's final seasons in Seattle (Hawkblogger's breakdowns of Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson also demand a read).


Different Kinds of 7-9

In any comparison of Tarvaris Jackson and 2010 Matt Hasselbeck, Jackson obviously fails the eye test much more readily. His inaccuracy, lack of pocket presence, and struggles with quick progressions jump out to even a casual viewer. It took a more savvy watcher to recognize Hasselbeck's late-career issues, because he retained all the fundamentals of QB play - footwork, vision, progressions, defensive reads, throwing technique. He was a far, far, far more complete player than Jackson was, and very likely, ever will be. Therefore, it was far more reasonable to sit around waiting for that elusive Hasselbeck resurgence than to project growth for Jackson.

Yet at the end of the day, 2010 Hasselbeck and Jackson produced near-identical records and strikingly similar stat lines. Poor pass protection and WR inconsistency were a factor both years and so can be set aside as quick explanations. What is the significance of two much, much, much stylistically different quarterbacks generating similar results? How is this possible when we know Hasselbeck to be the much stronger player? You would think that the more complete player would find SOME way to stand out.

Truth is, there's more than one way for a quarterback to win. Or to suck. This reality is absolutely crucial to the QB discussion. It immediately hints that our quest to arrange and compare Jackson, Flynn, and Wilson might be a flawed approach. It's an apples-and-oranges deal; they're all very different kind of QB's and need to be evaluated differently. But how?

I turn to another question that's being begged. Since Hasselbeck and Jackson were different QB's, they each produced a very different kind of 7-9 record. Some of us, pissy and impatient for W's, don't care about the route taken if the results are the same. But we're not the one making the decision. If Pete Carroll had to choose between the 7-9 of 2010 and the 7-9 of 2011, would he make a distinction? Would he prefer one type of losing season over another?

I believe he would, and the reasons can be found in three years' worth of his comments to the Seattle media over what kind of team he envisions. Basically, he wants a TEAM, not a gaggle of bit guys surrounding an epic quarterback who throws forty times a game. He wants to involve every phase of the team in victory, give everyone a chance to make that game-changing play. He wants his team to finish every game strong. He wants the team to be hanging around by the fourth quarter, ready to win ugly.

And for that, he needs ball security. Turnovers. It's about turnovers. We've all known that Pete is pretty phobic of those things, to the point of naming a day of the week after them in his practice program. But even though ball security is doubtless a big component of Pete's rubric, for some reason, I haven't seen it brought up much in fan discussion circles. I'd say it's a pretty big deal. (I suppose I might have missed something in the deluge of content that is Fieldgulls these days.)

Once turnover concerns are brought into the picture, the QB race is open to different interpretation. Putting aside the playoff ticket handed to us by 2010's weak NFC West, I do think Pete would make a distinction between the 2010 7-9 and the 2011 7-9. Specifically, he'd prefer the 2011 version, and for one simple reason: in 2011, even during losses, the team was usually hanging around in the fourth quarter with the chance to win.

2010 was nothing like that. Does anyone miss the double-digit blowouts and being down by three scores, essentially out of the game, by the third quarter? I don't. Those largely went away in 2011 (Pittsburgh being a painful exception), and I believe Pete sees that as progress. No, Tarvaris Jackson didn't have it in him to clinch those games in the fourth quarter. But at least he had the chance. Or at least the defensive backs had a chance to grab a game-winning pick-six. At least a lucky bounce had the power to change the outcome. At least the team was hanging around with the chance to win ugly, instead of just trudging through garbage time. At least SOMEBODY could have done something. And on a few occasions, they did.

It's being commonly said that Tarvaris Jackson was "dragged" to 7-9 and played no real role in those wins. I beg to differ. I think it could have been much worse. In fact I think it's downright ironic that a Seahawks fan would disagree, because Seahawks fans SAW much worse with Matt Hasselbeck just two seasons ago.

I'm sorry to dig up this dead horse, but I believe it applies here. There's no way the 2011 Seahawks would have been able to hang around in games with Matt Hasselbeck still at the helm. Easy for me to say, but you know what the Seahawks looked like after 2007. Every loss was a blowout, usually decided by early in the third quarter, and often because of turnovers. That exciting running game and defense that supposedly vaulted us past Jackson's incompetency to seven wins in 2011? They wouldn't have had a chance behind a QB averaging three turnovers a game. Run games are the first thing to get tossed aside when your team slips into a hole; Carroll was forced to surrender it quite a bit in 2010. Defenses, while still very relevant, don't score points. They cannot be expected to start in their own territory five extra times and still save the game, such as in the second San Francisco game of 2010. There would have been no winning ugly. With turnovers, you're out of the game before it's even halfway over. "Staying out of the way" is not at the bottom of the QB quality scale. "Holding the team back with turnovers" is.

This is what Pete was getting at earlier this year when he expressed a desire for a "game manager" QB. I remember panicking inside when I read that, naively thinking he simply shared some fans' desire to settle for a Trent Dilfer rather than risk drafting a first-round QB. But it's really about turnovers, about Pete wanting to keep his entire team in the game for four quarters. QB turnovers take a team OUT of the equation faster than anything, put the burden of catching up on the shoulders of the QB who threw the pick in the first place. THAT's what Pete is trying to avoid - not necessarily an emphasis on the pass, but the loss of balance and control. He sounds for all the world like he'd rather have a QB who throws 1 TD and 0 INT than one who throws 2 TD and 2 IN.

My stab at Pete's thinking felt like guesswork as I wrote it, I'll admit. But I think it fits. It fits with the history of comments from Pete and John, with the manner in which the team and coaching staff have been built, and with the way the QB competition has been handled thus far.

Unless, of course, you're one of those annoying conspiracy theorists who refuse to take Pete at his word, instead insisting that Flynn has already been given the starting (wink-nudge-)nod and that no blurbs to the contrary should be taken at face value. After all, Pete Carroll is a competito-psychological mad scientist and has no greater priority than getting rid of Tarvaris Jackson, right?


Tarvaris Jackson

When I watch Jackson on my television, I'll admit that I'm not inspired. Hunt for crumbs of hope amongst the stats and game contexts all you want - I know what a limited QB looks like when I look at my screen. Most of us do.

BUT...perspective. Jackson was not a 0-16 QB, which you could assume from reading some people's "I won't watch if he starts!" whining. As limited as he is, his career line reveals a very dead-even QB. .500 record as a starter, score-to-turnover ratio of about 1-1, and that improved last year behind the running of the Beast. He's relatively safe and is seemingly becoming safer. It's true that his late-season efficiency came against an easy schedule and was accompanied by a suspicious increase in fumbles, but in general, Tarvaris is not the most turnover-prone QB to ever exist.

He also has far, far more gameday experience and primary reps than anyone else on the roster. That's an intangible but valuable commodity. I've always been skeptical that Seattle would jettison any veteran experience from the roster in favor of Josh Portis, a long-shot project who showed a few preseason flashes against San Diego's third-stringers and promptly became the next Charlie Whitehurst. Yes, some people sniff at Jackson's "experience", but again - he wasn't 0-16 last year, folks. He was 7-8. It's amazing how many people are incapable of appreciating that. It's actually a pretty good baseline for a backup. No, he didn't get there in pretty fashion, but numbers are numbers. Some amongst the 12th Man need some perspective - go spend some time being fans of a team who would kill for a .500 starter. Arizona and Miami spring to mind.

I'm fully aware that Jackson is unlikely to improve...much. If he had Green Bay' wide receivers, Seattle's 2005 offensive line, the 49ers' defense and special teams (and health), and 2007's slate of opponents, he'd probably look just dandy. But that's unlikely to happen to any QB. Sitting around waiting for a struggling QB to get the perfect team is a long wait for nothing. Heck, in these parts, just asking for health is asking too much. But it's still worth noting that if the running game stays on its upward trajectory (teeheehee BEASTURBIN!!!), the O-line and Jackson's pecs hold together - and Golden Tate's hand, and the small Doug Baldwin, and Sidney Rice's whatever-it-is-this-week, Jackson's play could sneak upwards a bit. He was 7-8 without all those things.

Even assuming that Jackson will not improve, he still represents ball security, scheme fit, and continuity to Pete Carroll. Those are no small things to him. They're probably much higher on his list of priorities than they are on ours. This might help explain the apparent gap between what he sees and what we see. If you're willing to take Pete's actions at face value, it becomes clear that T-Jack still has a place in the discussion as the team's "safe" option, and Pete's priorities give him some real durability there.

But the question remains...how could Matt Flynn possibly be worse?


Matt Flynn

Flynn's positives have already been enumerated by an eager fan base who latched onto the first glimmer of hope to arrive this year, so I won't repeat them. I hope you won't see that as a dismissal or a determination to see the negative - I just don't see the need to retread ground. (What I like most about Flynn is that he'll win a lot of downs before the snap and knows how to use his tight ends.)

It's understandable for the back of people's minds to tell them that Flynn is the inevitable winner. His acquisition just FEELS that way to some. He's being paid more - not enough to automatically land him in the starting spot or hurt Seattle should he be cut, but more nevertheless. He belongs to a very familiar QB model. He had the stamp of approval from the NFL hype machine. He put up numbers against Detroit that look spectacular at first glance.

But if you're willing to step outside of this for a moment, take a gander at a list of what Flynn has NOT done:

- Played more than four total NFL games
- Played with anything but the best receiving corps in the NFL
- Played with anything but the best offensive coaching staff in the NFL
- Played against anything but the worst secondaries in the NFL
- Played for a team that he hadn't already been practicing with for four years
- Played with the pressure of earning and keeping a starting job
- Played with the pressure of a full season
- Played full games back-to-back
- Played long enough for other teams to accumulate his tape and analyze his traits
- Played long enough to develop documentable traits in the first place
- Played in a run-first offense
- Played with significant snaps from under center

That's a considerable list. Given that many changes, it's hard to expect Flynn to automatically translate his Green Bay excellence to Seattle. He is no doubt headed for some kind of dropoff, and that dropoff could be anything from mild-but-recoverable to downright precipitous. That degree is the real question - not whether there WILL be a dropoff. There will be. I would like to examine it for a moment.

You have to remember that a backup like Matt Flynn could not ask for a more comfortable berth from which to advertise himself than sitting behind Aaron Rodgers. There, he enjoyed an offense that substituted the short pass (his strength) for the running game and thus let him play mostly from the gun. He enjoyed a WR corps chosen for their precise separation and ability to sweep away massive windows in coverage. His playbook dealt in frequent 4-WR sets and flood concepts that had defenses playing from back on their heels.

Flynn will have none of that in Seattle. Here, he'll be a play-action QB throwing out of "22", "21", and "13" personnel sets along with frequent bootlegs and rollouts. It's easy to assume that changing to a run-first offense would protect Flynn more than expose him - "fewer pass attempts to screw up" is usually what we think. But it's not that simple. A run-first offense won't put Flynn in the shotgun as much as the Packers' offense, where play action was not a prominent feature (Flynn played almost entirely from the shotgun during that famous Detroit game). He'll have to develop consistency in faking handoffs and then turning around to re-establish reads downfield after the fake. This isn't something Green Bay ever required him to develop, and it shows in that he's markedly more ponderous in his decision-making in play action. I can't say that this is an area he's already nailed down. Can he? Sure. But there will be an adjustment.

You may think me harsh and unfalsifiable in treating pressure and temperament as a variable, but anyone who's ever watched Matt Hasselbeck knows that temperament is very much a factor. Hasselbeck was capable of great efficiency at his peak, but when things weren't going right, it became clear that he did not have the temperament of a game manager. Flynn hasn't even had the chance to develop a temperament yet, much less have it tested, and Seattle is very much looking for a specific kind of composure in their QB. This is another variable.

And this is all without even addressing the inherent turnover risk that comes with mediocre arm strength and mobility. We've all seen some wobbly passes, but it's more than that. As Hawkblogger recently documented, Flynn's completion percentage drops off sharply when he's passing further than ten yards. He has a nice deep-ball percentage, but that stems partially from terrific WR's winning jump balls and enjoying numerous blown coverages from the Detroit game. That's another issue with the switch to a run-first offense - a QB's first read after play-action is often a deep one. Flynn's strength is the short pass, which the Packers utilized to open up other opportunities downfield. Nothing about Pete's choices on offense suggest that he's happy with a passing game of less than ten yards. He's been said to be running the West Coast Offense, but even if you believe that "WCO = short passes" (it's more complicated than that), Seattle still has a clear propensity to become a vertical team. That desire is written all over our playbook and our player acquisitions. Flynn doesn't easily fit this. Nor does he easily fit the "tilt the field" thing, because he's an anticipation thrower who relies on the separation abilities of his receivers. A strong-armed guy can throw WR's open, fit balls into tighter windows more safely, and make more things happen on his own.

Combine all this with the dramatically smaller separation windows that Flynn will get from Seattle's current stable of receivers, and you see why I want to quantify his floor. Much of the discussion so far has focused on his ceiling. We really have no idea what he could be. I agree that Flynn could be quite good, but I also think he could be fairly bad. The math is simple: new team + inexperience + mediocre arm + lack of plus mobility + well-documented blind spot for safeties down the middle + WR's not known for separation + limited experience under center = very real turnover risk. That's probably how we'd be judging Flynn were he on any other team. The Rams, for instance.

Oh, and to be perfectly honest, I'm not concerned with his crazy stats from the Detroit game. In fact, it means less to me every time someone cites it. Flynn deserves credit for what he did, but he did it in Week 17 against a terrible, banged-up secondary that had already made the playoffs, using the league's best separation receivers. Three of his TD's were a 2-yard dumpoff with crazy YAC, a 8-yard crossing pattern with crazy YAC, and a swing pass where the WR stiff-armed his one defender into oblivion. Since when does the QB get any credit for that kind of stuff? I find his station-to-station performance against New England far more informative.

I'm not saying Flynn WILL be bad; I'm saying his mental excellence may not necessarily preclude him from being so, as many have assumed. I'm not saying Flynn can't adjust to Pete's offense, nor vice versa; I'm simply saying there will BE an adjustment. People like his decisivness and willingness to take risks, but nobody liked those qualities when it was Matt Hasselbeck and the result was interceptions (we called it "recklessness" instead). Flynn is often compared to the 2003 model of Hasselbeck, but imagine that model NOT throwing behind an all-star offensive line to system-correct timing receivers like Bobby Engram. Nor will Flynn now be throwing to Mike Williams, whose presence was a plus for Flynn for many people.

Then there's the fact that Seattle never treated Flynn like a destined starter at any time. They didn't even pursue him until he became cheap. He went all the way to Miami and back before settling with Seattle. His contract is easy to escape and screams "better stopgap". They went out and drafted Russell Wilson AFTER signing him. Pete knows the locker-room value of requiring the starter to EARN the job. Seattle has built an offense around play-action, moving QB's, and deep downfield plays, something that Flynn fits worse than the other two QB's. And they already have a "safe option" in Tarvaris Jackson.

Nothing in any of this suggests that Flynn's starting gig is secure. The competition is much closer than people have given it credit for. To what degree is the documented Matt Flynn defined by the Green Bay Packers? We are still, in many ways, dealing with an unknown QB here, with quite a few things to prove. Flynn will have to earn the job. Maybe he will. It also depends on...


Russell Wilson

Once again, I know that appealing to physical potential is a pretty low baseline for the QB search. I'll also admit that it's perfectly possible for Russell Wilson's height to create schematic holes for the offense the same as Flynn's arm. I do not think the guy is a slam dunk. But he is, in my eyes, the most exciting QB Seattle has on the roster, with the highest ceiling. (Insert tired height pun here.)

Many have dismissed Wilson because they don't trust short QB's and they don't trust third-round QB's. Since Wilson is both, he must be hosed. But if you want to bring up the higher bust rate of third-round QB's, you're preaching to the choir. I was all about that last year. First-round QB's are the least risky of a very risky set of options.

But WHY was Wilson a third-rounder? From everything I've read, purely because of his height. I haven't been able to find another reason for his draft-day fall. John Schneider almost took him in the second round. Without the height bugaboo, we're looking at an impressive talent with a lot of first-round earmarks. He is not a member of the typical "not-first-round" subset.

Because Wilson is only 5'10", Seattle will probably have to scheme Wilson very specifically - as Tony Softli recently pointed out, they'll have to deploy him like Wisconsin did. The thing is, Seattle is already deploying their quarterbacks that way. Play-action, deep drops, downfield strikes, rollouts and moving pockets. We're already there. Wilson is the first quarterback Seattle has obtained that fits what Seattle wants to do offensively and actually has the mental prowess to go with it. Far from being an automatic disqualifier, Wilson's height may actually play right into his hands when it comes to his chances in Seattle.

As for being barred from seeing over his offensive linemen, there is evidence that Wilson will not be hamstrung by this. Or perhaps more appropriately, there is a striking lack of the evidence that you'd expect to see if Wilson were hamstrung. A QB who can't see over his line would be throwing a high number of interceptions and batted balls. Yet in his senior season at Wisconsin, those picks and bats were not there. Boy, were they not there. He threw only four picks and something like four batted balls in an entire season against 33 TD's a completion percentage of 73%. That stat line would take any college QB and make him a prospect. With Wilson's height, behind one of college football's tallest O-lines, to uremarkable receivers, against some of its strongest competitors? The statement Wilson makes with those numbers could be precedent-breaking.

Yes, history says that short QB's don't succeed. But history doesn't have much to say on guys with Wilson's production. And it doesn't differentiate between the NFL's failure to enable such QB's and their failure to give such guys a chance. (Maybe the reason few short QB's succeed is because few are drafted to begin with?) And if you're looking for reasons that might explain Wilson's ability to defy his height, there are plenty to choose from. Reliance on throwing lanes being an underrated factor, Wilson's very high release point (higher than Brock Osweiler's), his mobility and talent in throwing on the run, the offense's emphasis on getting him outside the pocket (again, something we see in Seattle a lot).

Some people absolutely refuse to believe that a short QB can succeed. The "can't see over the line" justification feels right on the surface, and the number of short QB busts seems to bear it out. But that's not any kind of deep analysis; it leaves out way too much. Beyond the stuff I've already listed, what if lack of height was only an extra problem for all those busted smurfs, added to a host of other stuff? Last I checked, it's just plain hard for any college QB to hack it in the pros. Those who do are part of an incredibly small group. If you want to explain away busts like Troy Smith or Seneca Wallace, you don't have to use height to do it. There are any number of other explaining factors.

And NONE of them are shared by Russell Wilson. He's not a "project" as the word is commonly used. His polish has been largely ignored. He's a passer. When I look at Wilson, I see a bevy of the "little things" elite quarterbacks do that set them apart. Making progressions, looking off safeties, using arm motions to draw and fake DB's, selling play-action absolutely brilliantly, throwing on the run with pinpoint accuracy, sliding at the end of runs, pocket awareness, professional-grade footwork and throwing motion. I see NFL mechanics and the presence of mind that people are grinding their teeth over NOT seeing in Tarvaris Jackson. It's been said for good reason that if Wilson were 6'3", he'd have been drafted ahead of Robert Griffin III.

Training camp has backed all this up. Wilson has been shaky, but only rookie-shaky and not short-shaky. From all accounts, Wilson has been making all the plays you'd expect a dynamic rookie to make. Height has not been an issue. He's improving from the pocket and learning to run only when the opportunity presents itself (and as a QB who usually knows when to slide, he should be able to make a good side living off of that).

Now throw in a few more facts:

* Wilson attempted 1,489 passes in college. Flynn attempted 437. That's four seasons's worth to one. Could this somewhat equalize Flynn's perceived "experience" advantage?

* Wilson's very worst situational passer rating in college, on 3rd-and-long, was not terrible. The rest were the very epitome of efficiency - a key word in Carroll's offensive vision.

* Wilson displays a remarkably consistent completion percentage from EVERY part of the field and performs well even when his team is behind or tied - another item from the "not T-Jack" shelf.

Wilson's camp performance is a hodgepodge of confidence, promise, and rookie mistakes. He may very well not be ready to start yet. That's fine. He doesn't have to, not with both Jackson and Flynn around. But Wilson is a dynamic, multi-dimensional talent who can stretch the field with both his arms and his legs, and still flashes Flynn's analytical skills and confidence. He might very well be the one guy who fell into the third round without a good reason. And you know Pete and John are just the kind of guys to spot that diamond in the rough. For me, honestly, it's Wilson who FEELS like the big acquisition here.


Conclusion

Tarvaris Jackson is not the complete package, but he's the "safe" option that the team clearly feels they can muddle through with. Matt Flynn is not the complete package - could hold the reins, also shows signs of being a turnover machine. Russell Wilson is the complete package minus a few inches of height and fits Seattle's parameters to a tee.

When the Carroll mindset is analyzed, it seems to me that Russell Wilson has by far the best chance of becoming Seattle's long-term starter...eventually. He started fast in the competition but slowed down a bit as his rookie nature got exposed. Carroll is one who carefully deploys his QB, is slow to change, and gives the impression of not trusting rookies. Barring a downright explosive statement from Wilson in the preseason, and especially considering Flynn's presence, I doubt Wilson wins.

In fact, until yesterday when Jackson resurfaced with more camp reps, I would have guessed that Flynn would indeed win the competition. He does look promising. I still give him the greatest probability. But now, no combination of the three would really surprise me, not even Jackson starting. If that happened, the likely explanation would be concern over Flynn's turnover-proneness and Wilson's rookieness. And since we know Pete is committed to simply fielding the best QB, a Jackson victory would carry the implication that Flynn would have done no better. Flynn has a number of heretofore-unappreciated hurdles to clear, primarily shifting to a philosophically different and less talented offense and assuring Pete of his ability to protect the ball. Because of this, I believe that Flynn's margin of victory over the other QB's will need to be considerable. Being only slightly better than Tarvaris Jackson may not be enough to offset the increased risk of turnovers that inherently comes with a physically limited QB. He'll need to make a strong statement, and he hasn't yet.

I hate to be the one to say this, but we should brace for the possibility that Seattle has not significantly improved its QB situation for 2012 at all. Between Jackson's static nature, Flynn's riskiness, and Wilson's learning curve, it's a possibility. I do think we have hope for 2013 for sure, between Russell Wilson and a draft that seems to offer several promising quarterbacks (though not much else). Flynn might provide an upgraded stopgap, but playoff-caliber QB play in the rising NFC West? Not sure we're out of the woods in the short term.

Basically, I've just written over five thousand words to tell you that I don't know what will happen. But it took some doing, and deserved the doing, because many people have already decided that they can see the future. My opinion: between the limited value of camp performances as a measuring device, Flynn's only modest separation from the other guys, the declining WR situation (upon which Flynn is most dependent as an anticipation thrower), and the fact that he doesn't perfectly fit the Seahawks' offensive vision anyway, he'll find it a little harder to dislodge T-Jack from his "safe option" entrenchment that some people think. It won't be difficult, exactly - Jackson's struggles with the hot read and the third down obviously make him very vulnerable.

But the competition is still wide open, just as Pete said, because he places ball security very high on his list. Every QB on this roster has an adjustment to make. As NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said recently,
"I've seen Russell Wilson at Wisconsin, I've seen Matt Flynn in college, I've seen Matt Flynn in Green Bay, but I have not seen either one of them with the Seahawks. Once I see them in the preseason, I think it will be a little easier to make a guess on that. Going through training camp you still don't know what you have in either one of these guys."
Yes, this means we may need to dig in for another season of Tarvaris Jackson's "win ugly" style. But Pete's earned our trust by now. The team's still in flux, still building. Let's sit back and see where preseason takes us.

39 comments:

  1. Excellent piece, mirrors much of my own thoughts on the subject. Particularly the riskiness and actual low floor on Flynn is something I brought up myself when scouting out his few starts, because just two starts and a bunch of preseason snaps don't really add up to much in the NFL. Add the fact that he was throwing in a high-power offense against defenses with identical weaknesses (really weak secondaries) that both tried to rattle him too much with blitzing (which he handles well). That's a very specific set of circumstances he's not likely to duplicate much in his Seahawks career.

    Jackson's mediocrity would be more acceptable if it was more...reliable. As in, if he was reliably average from game to game, as game managers are wont to. But instead he goes from games where he flashes his significant athletic gifts and plays pretty damn good to games where he just stinks up the place. In many ways, I think PC would prefer an Alex Smith-type mediocre to a Tarvaris Jackson-type mediocre.

    I really dig Russell Wilson. But I don't think he should start week 1. I think he has a very good shot at being the future of the franchise, but his height-deficiency is a deficiency. It is a unique experiment to see someone who has literally everything except a couple of inches, as opposed to say a Brees, who was athletic but came from a simplified offense and had a popgun arm, coming out of college.

    Still, to excel, Drew Brees needs a certain setup, and I'm pretty convinced the same goes for Wilson. Our offense is of the right design, for sure, but I'm not sure our talent level is there yet. Brees gets huge passing lanes from his OL (particularly inside protection is great, allowing a lot of pocket movement) and can blindly rely on a lot of his receivers. Neither of those things would go for Wilson if he starts W1. It's true Wilson played behind a big OL in college, but to me it's not their height that counts, it's their dominance, which allowed them to lock down the DL, open big passing lanes and prevent batted passes (which to my mind is more an OL than a QB stat). With our line in flux and our WRs unsettled, it doesn't seem the right time to start Wilson. Same could be said for Flynn, though, hah, but hopefully his years in the NFL will help alleviate that if he ends up starting.

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  2. Brandon,

    Beautifully done. I hope every Seahawk fan reads it.

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  3. This is probably the best look at what the Hawks at the QB position.

    The only thing I would add is that I really think Pete is going to leverage preseason playing time to motivate the guys who don't get the starting nod. I believe he is doing this with his "safe" bet so can try to provide the catalyst for explosive growth through the competition.

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  4. Excellent and well written. Think you presented a great paradigm shift from the usual crap about what Pete is thinking with this competition.

    I agree that Pete would choose TJack's 7-9 to Matt H's. Great points about that.

    Also loved what you wrote about R.W.'s scheme fit in relation to Wisconsin. Completely agree.

    One of the few things I disagreed with is that TJack throws receivers open because he has a strong arm as opposed to Matt Flynn. Nearly all the analysis I've read or heard states the exact opposite. TJack doesn't throw (usually) until they're open. M.F. has consistently thrown receivers open when covered and often thrown to where only they can get it.

    I do think there should be two other negatives to TJack starting. He gets his receivers hurt by throwing some balls where they get killed so much that it could be a big negative impact (especially with Sidney possibly made of glass). The other is that he doesn't use all his weapons and spread the ball around. The defense (and anyone else watching) anticipates where he's going to throw to it and often doubles his intended target (usually right).

    I think Flynn and Wilson are better at spreading the ball around and getting more players involved. You can play safe and conservative yet still be balanced. Limiting turnovers is important in the overall scheme but so is controlling the clock more and getting longer drives resting the d and controlling the game.

    Great read. Thank you.
    Ben

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    1. Well, I wasn't saying T-Jack throws guys open, because you're right, he generally doesn't. I was just saying that strong-armed guys can in general, and thus are a better fit for Pete's offensive desires. In that moment I was really just trying to illustrate why Flynn isn't an ideal fit.

      You have a good point about spreading the ball around and creating longer drives. But are turnovers powerful enough to reduce all that, and more, to naught? They give your opponents free drives and short fields, keep your defense playing. It would be an interesting study (and someone at Fieldgulls has probably done it) to try and quantify the factors you cited and stack them up next to turnovers.

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  5. This was a great article but your compare-contrast between T-Jack and Flynn struck me as being a bit analytically inconsistent. Namely, you were quick to conclude that 'numbers are numbers' in your approval of T-Jack's 2011 season and implication that any qualitative interpretation of those numbers is superfluous. Conversely, you seemed pretty adamant about thoroughly dissecting Flynn's numbers and deducing (rightfully) that they were really about X Y Z factors.

    Don't get me wrong, your criticism of Flynn is entirely logical and probably what the fan base needs to hear right now. But to go with that should also be a discussion of how there's good reason to speculate that T-Jack's 'not bad' 2011 record was also more likely influenced by other factors then his own performance (his WPA and QBR scores suggest as much), not "well, numbers are numbers and 7-8 starting ain't bad at all!"

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    1. Not in total defense of TJ, I see him as limited, but he did inherit one of the worst starting positions in football last year. I thought TJ was rather fortunate to get out of the pre-season alive in 2011.

      The Daniel Jeremiah interview on FG was spectacular. His analysis on why there was less market than anticipated by the media for Flynn was eye-opening, front offices do not see him as a championship QB.

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    2. I can see why it looks like I used "number are numbers" inconsistently, tzane. But I do think it works much better when applied to an entire season, as in the case of Jackson's 2011 (which statistically mirrors most of his career), than when applied to one game like Flynn's mega-stat performance against the Lions. There's every reason to expect a dropoff from Flynn's 6 TD's and 480 yards, but I don't think there's any reason to NOT T-Jack to pretty much stay at his 2011 level or even improve slightly. If that makes sense.

      Do I approve of 7-9? Not really. But do I automatically assume Flynn would do better? Not enough information for me to be comfortable with that. In fact, I tried to enumerate the hints that he might go the opposite way, such as his limited arm strength not fitting Seattle's "run and then strike deep" offense.

      Let me be clear: None of this is intended to make ANY conclusions about where this competition is headed. But since we're now starting to see fans openly threatening to call for Pete Carroll's head if T-Jack is named the starter, I felt it worthy of an article to simply argue that there IS a real competition and why T-Jack might win in a tie.

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    3. Sure, it is a real competition. Tarvaris won't win it and there won't be anything close to a tie though. Tarvaris will be given every opportunity available and will lose the job fair and square.

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    4. Brandon,

      Your article is amazingly complete and informed. But after writing it, how can you conclude the likelihood of TJack possibily named the starter?

      PC needs to make a decision, both for 2012 and beyond. He has shown his willingness to support his starting QB (when Hass and TJack struggled during the past two years, for instance) and he has also demonstrated the importance of naming the guy and throwing his entire support to him (witness the Cassel/Leinart decision).

      Read your article again. It makes a persuasive case that Flynn doesn't fit well with what PC wants to do on offense, and likely never will. You also make it clear why Russell Wilson fits perfectly.

      We know (and presumably PC knows) that TJack is not the future. If Flynn can't demonstrate significant distance between himself and TJack, we know that Flynn is not the present. If he's not the present, he's certainly not the future.

      If your analysis is mostly correct (and I believe it is), then it makes far more sense to project RW as the starter, and TJack as the back-up. That leaves no room for Flynn on the roster, a possibility you acknowledge.

      If the three QBs are playing nearly the same level of pro-football, consider this: TJack is unlikely to improve much, if at all. Giving Flynn all the benefit of the doubt (and flying in the face of your analysis) perhaps he can improve with more game experience on the order of 10 or 20%. Now consider Wilson. Let's say he is playing at half his pro-potential, but still roughly equal to TJack and Flynn. By all accounts (including yours) he is destined to improve considerably with real game experience.

      The question is how much, and when. But the problem PC has is that he can ill-afford to name a starter (Flynn or Jackson) and consider it a real option to switch QBs mid-season. If he does, it means Seattle is losing; he potentially made the wrong decision to begin with; it hurts the team and the locker room to go through that.

      He has to make a good decision now. Based on your assessment, there is only one available.

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    5. It's possible, 77, but Wilson's rookieness could still leave him third in the pecking order. Combined with Beekers' point about Wilson needing a dominant O-line and Pete's predisposition to protect rookies, I'd say his starting odds are low unless he absolutely just destroys the other two in preseason, which I don't quite see right now.

      But I'm also desperately trying to rein in my enthusiasm over the guy, so maybe I'm overcompensating. :)

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    6. Brandon,

      I understand the concern with starting rookies, and I have to admit I am disappointed that Flynn hasn't been much better. A month ago I anticipated a training camp where both Flynn and Wilson excelled, leaving TJack in distant 3rd place, with a genuine win/win decision between Flynn and Wilson. Having TJack show so (relatively) well based on PC's treatment has been disconcerting.

      But a question for you: what makes you think PC wants to protect rookies? On the contrary, he has started several without hesitation (Okung/Thomas/Carpenter/Moffit in past years, and likely Wagner/Irvin this year [I consider Irvin's role like the starting nickle-back, even if technically he is not a starting DE]).

      PC has also publically announced a change in his attitude about rookie QBs, sometime well before the draft. With the recent success of Ryan/Flacco/Dalton/Newton, the paradigm has shifted. And if there ever was a rookie ready to start, it might be Wilson. With a strong defense and effective running attack, a rookie QB couldn't ask for much more.

      PC makes bold decisions, and won't let the cry of the pundits or fans put him off. If he starts Flynn, that will be his 3rd starting QB in 3 years. Starting RW as his 4th makes little sense (whether it is some time this year or next).

      The question about RW may be this: has he already maxed out his potential? Will he get much better than he already is? While we may naturally assume the answer is no, PC has to make sure he is saddling the right horse for the duration. This is really no time to make a mistake, and starting TJack, Flynn or Wilson might be a killer; any one of them may prove to be disaster. So he better be sure.

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  6. I wanted to add that this well written, B. Very well written. And spot on, IMO.

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  7. Watching and re-watching all of Tarvaris' snaps from last year, I have come to a totally different conclusion than you came up with. Tarvaris Jackson is nowhere near being a "safe" choice. A 1/1 td/int rate isn't a safe option to me. Throw in the typical late game blunders and 6 fumbles, and I still have a hard time calling it "safe". I haven't seen many teams stay with a "safe" QB like that. Most teams try their best to move on from "safe" play like that.

    I am not one to believe that a bad QB could ever throw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns in a game. It has never been done by a "bad" QB. The closest QB to bad that has done it was Scott Mitchell. He did it in a season in which he threw 32 touchdowns 12 interceptions and 4300+ yards. So, Flynn being a "bad" QB seems unlikely to me.

    Flynn may not be great, but to anticipate that he will be even close to being as bad as "safe" Tarvaris Jackson, is difficult for me to see. Thinking Flynn has the looks of a "turnover machine" opposed to Tarvaris seems like a huge reach too, even extrapolated out, Tarvaris looks more like a "turnover machine" than Flynn would be. Flynn has never given me a reason to think he will be anything less than an above average QB. He does all the things that Tarvaris seems incapable of doing. He gets the ball out on time. He anticipates. He gets through his reads. He throws the ball to all parts of the field. He has great mechanics. He makes quick and smart decisions. All this can be seen all the way back to his college games.


    To me, Flynn seems like the "safe" pick here.

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    Replies
    1. All true, David. My point was this: Matt Hasselbeck did all the same stuff in 2010 and it didn't make him any better than 7-9. In fact, by Pete's metric of ball security, he was worse. It's a clear example of how physical limitations combined with questionable surrounding talent can offset a lot of other good qualities.

      FWIW, I do expect Flynn to win the competition, and I don't see the recent camp distributions as evidence otherwise. My main point was just that he's an unknown quantity in the midst of a major transition, and that makes the competition legitimate and cries for Pete's head premature.

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    2. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if Matt Hasselbeck were given last year's running game and defense, he would have outperformed Tarvaris Jackson. You'll never convince me otherwise. I've actually seen Matt perform well with a good running game and a decent defense. Tarvaris has never performed well even with a pretty good Viking team.

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    3. With the offensive line playing like it was, I don't think Hasselbeck would've even lasted more than a few games. It's easy to say the guy who wasn't there would've been better, but truth is Hasselbeck wasn't that good in his final years with us.

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  8. Wow Montana great to have you back. Thank you so much for your read. I believe the RW is our QBOTF. It is just going to take time for it all to work out.

    Thanks again for posting again.

    PS dont get into shit matches with the idiots who leave un-educated crap disturbing replies on your blog.

    They are lacking and cant stand that you have in depth analysis of things they dont want to agree with.

    Rainger from .net

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  9. Good read. I agree with above on TJ not having the edge in ball security compared to Flynn. Really though, some spot on great stuff here. Congrats.

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  10. It's a great analysis, and I like the different viewpoint.

    One thing I have a hard time with; Flynn has shown to be much, much better presnap and reading defenses than Jackson. He also can throw to all areas of the field, whereas Jackson is very limited to the right side. Spreading the ball around makes a QB harder to read, and anticpate. So, some of the supposition about Flynn being less safe than Tjack rings a bit untrue. If you can read a defense, and read holes in a zone, and anticipate and be on the same page as the WR, it can be a much safer throw than a gun slinger like Favre trying to thread the needle. Yup, Favre could make some amazing throws, and had a stronger arm at 40 than anyone on our roster, but he also threw some really bad picks.

    It's hard for me to believe that Pete Carroll and JS, both of whom have shown great aptitude for scouting, would look at Flynn, see all these opposites that you've seen in his game, and go "hey, let's give him 17 million and see if he reverses every tendency we think is bad".

    It's also equally hard for me to believe that Flynn, who by all accounts can distribute the ball better (which makes up for lack of elite WRs, just ask Peyton Manning), read defenses better, and has better accuracy, will turn the ball over more than Jackson, who has shown every tendency to be "safe" and also extremely predictable and easy to read, as well as unable to see most of the field and any receiver after his 1st option being open.

    I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm not arguing with you, or even debating much. I'm just saying it's really hard for me to believe it

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  11. Could you now add a section on who benefits the most if (IF), they are throwing to mega-radius WR's?

    TO/Edwards/Rice/Winslow-Miller

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  12. Great article

    My input: I'd much prefer to lose while Wilson learns his trade, then to "win" ugly with Tavaris Jackson.

    I agree with your analysis, Jackson may well be the "safest" bet right now, but there's gonna be a learning curve for Wilson, I think that you can shorten, (sic), it greatly by having him play through his mistakes.


    Almost all younger QB's go through an adjustment period, Wilson has shown he adapts quickly, I look forward to seeing him in an actual game, when considering Seattle's option at QB, I'd argue that Jackson isn't the answer. Flynn might not be the best fit skill wise for this system.

    Let's throw Wilson in the deep end of the pool, see how well he swims.

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  13. Cool article. Flynn hasn't blown me away and if Pete truly feels this way, he might be willing to stick with his guy T Jack who already lives his mantra even if Flynn is better.i still see Wilson ass the future but, this year will be decided if Flynn can show his ability for non turnovers and to manage the game. Otherwise Tavaris will win out for his ability to throw the deep ball while following Pete's mantra of ball security.

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  14. An overlooked fact: Russell Wilson graduated from N.C. State and having a year of elegibility left, transfered to Wisconsin to play an additional year. During this time the kid STARTED 50 games at QB.

    Why all this BS about he needs to sit for a year or two? Pure BS - he has plenty of game experience.

    A lot of Crow will be eaten in Seattle when R.W. kills it in the preseason and is named the starter before preseason game #3. COUNT ON IT!

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  15. broadbill birdwatcherAugust 7, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    I disagree with your assessment of TJ being less of a turnover risk. It's anybody's speculation at this point. Flynn's slower feet and weaker arm = TJ's holding the ball too long in pocket, poor decision making under pressure and inconstancy with ball placement.

    Also, camp reports indicate that Flynn has shown a better vertical game than TJ.

    Most importantly, I want Flynn to QB opening day. So there.

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    Replies
    1. Once again, the article was merely an attempt to equalize the three QB's in our eyes and explain why a competition is needed. It's still impossible for anyone to guess who will or should start.

      Delete
    2. Why would you want to "equalize" the three QB's? They are not equal. The objective is to improve the position which was done when Flynn was signed and again when Wilson was drafted.

      It is rather easy to see that both Flynn and Wilson are better quarterbacks. Maybe you have difficulty seeing the separation while watching practice, but if you go back and watch the games they have all played, it jumps out at you.

      Tarvaris has everything you look for in a QB when all you do is look at him. He looks GREAT throwing the ball in shorts and a helmet. He looks awesome throwing the ball way down the field with minimal effort against air. It's the in-game play when there is actually a defense playing where Tarvaris begins to look bad, really bad. Once there is a defense on the field, Tarvaris becomes indecisive, inaccurate and out of place.

      Matt Flynn is the polar opposite of Tarvaris Jackson. He doesn't impress with his physical attributes. He doesn't have the big arm. He isn't fast. He doesn't jump out in practice, he just seems to get the job done. But when you put a defense on the field, the things he has that Tarvaris doesn't, really stand out. Matt Flynn is quick with his decisions. Flynn is accurate and he anticipates where his WR is going to be quite well. He even has the ability to make all the throws, they just don't get there as fast. Flynn moves better than expected in the pocket and just looks more like a QB should when going against other players.

      Russell Wilson. I believe he will be Flynn's backup for this year. He is a rookie and, I believe, he will be better served by watching and learning for a year. Plus, I think Flynn will shine in games like he always has. Wilson has everything, but he is short. Like Tarvaris, Wilson looks really good in practice. Like Flynn, Wilson looks good in games too. I believe that starting Wilson would damage the psyche of Flynn. If Wilson were to struggle and they wanted to go to Flynn, the damage to Flynn's confidence may already be too much to overcome.

      So, it's not "impossible" for me guess who will or should start and I don't believe for a minute that Tarvaris was at any time actually in the competition. Sure, there was a competition, but in no way did it start out "equalized". Nor should we "equalize" it.

      Flynn will start the season because he is the best QB on the team.

      Wilson will be the backup because he is the second best QB on the team right now and is a rookie.

      Portis will be the third string QB because he has a chance to grow with the team. Kind of similar to what Tarvaris did only Portis will probably improve where Tarvaris hasn't.

      Tarvaris will be cut because he is not good. No team will trade for him because of his salary. I don't think any team will sign him after he is cut either. If Tarvaris plays like he did last year after being in the same system for 6 years, how long will it take to learn a new one and will he play as poorly in that system too?

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    3. David,

      It's interesting how many people justify sitting Wilson because "he will be better served by watching and learning for a year."

      It doesn't matter what is 'good' for Wilson. PC will decide what is best for the team. Even if it would better suit Wilson to sit for a year (a contention many people, including Wilsonm would dispute) it won't happen if PC believes it best suits the Seahawks for him to start.

      The question comes down to who the better QB is, in PC's judgment. We have no way to know, given we don't know the precise criteria nor how each of the three grades out. But based on what we can know, I would assert, without hesitation, that Wilson is easily the best QB of the three. The question is, is he the best right now? Perhaps not. When will he develop into his potential? Hard to say, but PC would believe, as would Wilson, that the quickest way to reaching the young man's ceiling is to play football, not watch it.

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    4. You're right Hawk, Pete will decide what is best for the team. I have never said differently. My posts are what I think will be best for the team. I can think for myself and come to reasonable conclusions based on what I see. Nowhere have I claimed to be speaking for anyone other than myself. Nor do I need to be told for the thousandth time that the starter will be the QB that "Pete thinks" is the best. Thank you Captain Obvious.

      I think it is a whole lot easier to justify sitting Wilson than it would be to justify sitting Flynn. You find it interesting that people justify sitting Wilson, but nowhere do I see you justifying sitting Flynn.

      From everything we have seen, Flynn and Wilson are close in the competition. When it's close, most coaches, including Pete, go with the expensive free agent acquisition over the third round rookie...justifiable? Yes.

      Ask yourself these questions: If Wilson is named the starter as a third round rookie over the high priced free agent, what happens if and when the rookie struggles? Then, what happens if and when the high priced free agent is put in? Do you think the high priced free agent will be confident, or will he constantly be looking over his shoulder knowing the coach already benched him once?

      It just makes sense, to me, to start the high priced free agent over the third round rookie if the competition is close. Especially knowing the the high priced free agent plays better in games than he looks in practice. It keeps the free agent's confidence high and gives the rookie something to strive for.

      I'll stick by my predictions. I DO KNOW that Pete gets the final decision, so you don't need to tell me that it's up to Pete...I know. I do, however, find it funny that you tell me what Pete believes and ASSUME that that applies to Wilson. This phrase, "the quickest way to reaching the young man's ceiling is to play football, not watch it" does not apply to every player. Many young QB's in the past have also been ruined by playing before they were ready.

      Now, I expect Flynn to play very well against the Titans and Wilson to struggle just a bit. I will not be surprised in the least if Wilson plays very well in preseason games. I think he is going to be pretty good in the league. What will surprise me is if Flynn plays poorly. Flynn has played well in games every time he has been given the opportunity.

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  16. This, unfortunately, is a very well written article highlighting every worry I have about the QB situation.

    Thank you for your work.

    I would like to bring up one other problem, We don't have a number one QB. This means that no WR is gaining a close relationship with the QB. This means that the offensive line is not being given a chance to learn the cadence of the QB. This means that TEs are not getting the snaps to adjust to the individual quirks of the QB.

    The QB is the most important position in offensive football because he is the focal point of the plays. A team needs to know and adjust to the individual styles, choices and tricks. Every snap lost from the QB is a loss for the whole team.

    I really don't give a damn who wins, I see none of these QBs taking us to a SB. Every week where the QB choice is up in the air, I subtract a win.

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  17. Great analysis. I learned a lot. I am a bit surprised by the number of people who think RW is the best of the three. Flynn reads defenses really well. Makes his reads well. There is no way to compare QB qualities. A strong arm is not of equal value to great vision or great decision making. Arm strength is only relevant in the context of the decisions being made. A QB (Flynn) with a less than powerful arm has to make decisions based upon that arm strength. Elway suffered from the inability to take something off his throws when there was an opportunity due to plenty of space.

    Your analysis of Flynn has upgraded my understanding of his skill set - yet I still believe he is a much more talented QB than Matt H ever was. I agree he is not the ideal type of QB PC has envisioned for this team, but then that is also true of Manning. Yet I believe their interest in Manning was very real. Showing that PC is willing to alter his expectations from a QB to take advantage of whatever type of QB is available to the team.

    Wilson does fit the vision Pete has for a QB, and may be the long term solution, but my thinking says that could come after a 2-10 year Flynn lead team if Flynn's ceiling is reached and he remains healthy.

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    1. I'm curious as to what degree Carroll will adapt to Flynn and expect Flynn to adapt to him. It's an important aspect of the continuing competition, as the Packers and Carroll's Seahawks generally run very different personnel packages.

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  18. "I've just written over five thousand words to tell you that I don't know what will happen."

    Dick.

    Kidding. Great piece, and I think among non-pessimistic and non-Pollyanna fans, it's the majority opinion. Or is that just being a Pollyanna?

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  19. David,

    Answering this question:

    "If Wilson is named the starter as a third round rookie over the high priced free agent, what happens if and when the rookie struggles? Then, what happens if and when the high priced free agent is put in?"

    To answer the first part of the question, I expect PC to do the same thing he did when Hass and TJack struggled - support them through their issues, and not jerk them out of position.

    To answer the second part of the question, if RW gets named the starter, I don't expect Flynn to be on the roster, so not an issue.

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    1. I wouldn't hold my breathe on that happening. Flynn has $10 million GUARANTEED. There is no way that Flynn is NOT on the roster, so thinking he would be cut is kind of dumb. Flynn is also looking better than Wilson by most reports. Wilson is making those little rookie mistakes.

      I am in no way against Wilson, I think Flynn is the better QB right now. I think Flynn will run away with the starting job this year.

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    2. I didn't say that Flynn would be cut, so I guess I get to avoid being dumb. I said he might not be on the roster. He was paid a $6mil signing bonus. The other $4mil is guaranteed salary for the next two years. If Seattle trades him, the other party pays the salary, not Seattle.

      PC has made it clear that Flynn isn't guaranteed anything. His roster spot will depend on the quality of his play. And he is NOT the kind of QB PC favors.

      As far as practice reports go, most casual observers couldn't pick one QB that is clearly the best. That says much more about Wilson than it does the other two, both of whom should shine in comparison (but they don't).

      Remember, we are discussing the circumstance where Flynn doens't win the starting job (he may well still do so). If he doesn't beat Wilson or TJack to start, do you think he makes the best back-up (he won't be number 3, right?)?

      No (answering my own question). If Wilson wins the starting job, then TJack is far and away the better back-up. That makes Flynn expendable. Besides, if he can't beat Wilson and/or TJack for the starting job, why, as a Seahawk fan, should you care? You want the best player for the position, now and in the future.

      The best back-up for Seattle is TJack. The best option for a back-up role for Flynn is in Green Bay.

      If Wilson wins the starting job (still a big if) then I see TJack as the number 2 with Portis the #3, and Seattle trading Flynn to Green Bay (hopefully for a 3rd).

      The latest out of camp indicate that Wilson is doing really well. See, for example:

      ...what’s been more noticeable the past few days in watching the rookie quarterback sling the ball around is how much more accurate he is, particularly on go routes and passes over the middle of the field.

      Seahawks quarterbacks coach Carl Smith said that Wilson has improved on his pass protection calls and information that he provides in the huddle. But he also confirmed that Wilson has been more accurate throwing the ball down the field.

      “He’s progressed on throws,” Smith said. “He’s better on up balls and seam balls than he was when he got here. He wasn’t on any one of those in spring ball. And he is now, and he hit them today. So I’m really happy with him.”

      http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/2012/08/09/wilson-ready-for-centurylink-debut-hawks-may-have-jumped-the-gun-on-owens-suiting-up-for-training-camp/

      And then there is this:

      Wilson shines
      Don't tell Russell Wilson the quarterback competition is over. He got nearly as many snaps as Matt Flynn (28 for Flynn, 24 for Wilson), and made the most of them. I had him at 12-16 passing with a number of deep throws, including the two described above to Owens and Edwards. He also had a deep comeback to Edwards (nice route, by the way), a deep sideline pass to Ben Obomanu, and a nice crossing route to Zach Miller (who got lit up by Bobby Wagner). Two of Wilson's incompletions were a deep pass to Kris Durham in the end zone that was flat dropped, and a smoke route to Jermaine Kearse to avoid a blitz that Kearse did not read properly, so the ball hit him in the back. Flynn was not exactly struggling at 17-22 passing on the day, but Wilson impressed.

      http://www.hawkblogger.com/2012/08/2012-seahawks-training-camp-august-9th.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HawkBlogger+%28Hawk+Blogger%29

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    3. I quit reading when you said that Tarvaris Jackson would make a better backup than Flynn. Tarvaris is awful....AWFUL.

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    4. Seeing that also cements my thoughts on your QB evaluation skills. You should actually WATCH all of the QB's in games. Video is available for all of them.

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  20. "Especially knowing the the high priced free agent plays better in games than he looks in practice. "

    That is just a stupid statemnt, the worst I've seen lately. We just watched a half game where Flynn's stats were like 5 for 13 and 31 yards. If you project those #'s over the full game you are looking at 10 for 26 (38.4%) and 62 yards (and probably 4-5 sacks, 2-3 interceptions) If he gets named starter after that LOUSY performance, PC/JS need to be fired. You'all are NUTS.

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