bill-swift - August 22, 2012
At this point in the preseason teams pretty much have their first team groups on offense and defense set. They will get a good amount of time in the third preseason game while sitting out the final one in order to keep from getting injured before the season starts. That is likely why the Tennessee Titans went ahead and named Jake Locker their QB1 and why the Miami Dolphins gave the job to Ryan Tannehill.
The Seattle Seahawks are not quite ready to do that-- head coach Pete Carroll can't name his starting quarterback yet. It's not because the candidates, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson, are playing lousy (like the duo in Arizona). Both are actually playing pretty good.
Matt Flynn joined the team after a few years as Aaron Rodgers back-up in Green Bay. His record-setting game against the Detroit Lions to end the season had teams in need of a QB salivating. When the Seahawks signed him to a three-year deal during the off-season it was widely thought that he would be the No. 1 and Tarvaris Jackson his back-up.
Then the team drafted Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the draft. The move immediately had analysts and fans scratching their heads. Why on earth would you waste a third round pick--a place where you can still find viable starters for the coming season--on a third string QB (which many assumed Wilson would be)?
Two games into the preseason and the Seahawks are looking like geniuses for taking Wilson when they did. So far Wilson has looked ready and capable of stepping into the starter's role sooner rather than later. In two games (playing roughly a half in each) he has completed 22 of 33 passes for 279 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
His counterpart, Matt Flynn, has not fared nearly as well. He showed off his accuracy in the first game completing 11 of 13 passes, but they were all relatively short totaling just 71 yards. Last week he did not do any better completing just 6 of 13 passes for 31 yards. In his defense, the numbers would have looked a lot better if Terrell Owens did not drop a long touchdown pass, but that would have only brought his second game numbers up to the level of the so-so ones from game one.
So do you go with the guy that appears to be playing the best or the one you were planning on going with and hope that he steps it up?
It all comes down to how much you want to value preseason play. It is not uncommon for quarterbacks to appear to struggle in these meaningless games. They get stuck playing with second or third string level players or worse making it hard to judge whether it is the player or the lack of a sufficient supporting cast around him.
Wilson has looked good; Flynn not so much. However, Flynn has played in the regular season and did a great job in the process. It would not be the first time that a player looked phenomenal one game and not so hot the next.
Flynn will have the second half this Friday when the Seahawks take on the Kansas City Chiefs; Wilson is getting the start. Should Wilson shine many will say the decision is clear. Should both shine or Flynn does while Wilson falters and the decision may become one that no one wants to make.
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