So, I guess not much happened this weekend, did it? Man, I fucking knew I should have stuck around!
Uhh, so hey, should I keep going on with my 30 Most Important Seahawks series? I’ve got six names to go and one very conspicuous flaw. When you think you see it, go ahead and let me hear it.
Did I predict Matt Flynn would be the starting quarterback in week 1? Of course I did. I’m pretty sure the breakdown among fans and media alike went like this when we were told of Pete Carroll’s intention to have a 3-man competition:
- 49.5% believed Tarvar would be the week 1 starter
- 49.5% believed Flynn would be the week 1 starter
- the looney tunes, batshit crazy 1% believed Star Wars would be the week 1 starter
In other words, no one in his right mind could imagine a way in which Wilson would be the starter. Unless … this wasn’t really a 3-man competition, was it?
Of course it wasn’t! I’ve got some oceanfront property in Kansas for you if you believe that! This was a 2-man competition with Tarvar sitting there as injury insurance. Tarvar was either going to be the #2 QB (with either Flynn or Wilson suffering a serious injury), or he was going to be off the team. You wouldn’t keep him to be a #3 because you just don’t pay #3 quarterbacks $4 million; and you wouldn’t keep him as the #2 with Wilson as the #3 because obviously if Flynn failed or got injured, you’d want to see how this exciting, smart rookie could handle the fire of being thrown into the NFL his first season.
So, in reality, we’re talking about a 2-way competition. And, if I were a man who believed in a good conspiracy (and I do), I’d say there are some REAL tell-tale signs that this thing was rigged from the get-go to give Wilson the best chance to “win” the job by the third pre-season game.
For starters, look at the schedule. Titans, Broncos, then Chiefs. The Titans and Broncos have MUCH better first-unit defenders – especially in the secondary – than the Chiefs, with the Broncos probably the best of the bunch. Conventional wisdom would have dictated that Flynn would start against the Titans and Wilson would have started against the Broncos. What did Carroll do? He flipped conventional wisdom on its ass and started Flynn against the best defense we would see all pre-season (aside from our own, in practice). That’s fishy any way you slice it, but not TOO fishy. You want to see how Flynn looks against a really good defense like Denver’s, but you also want to shelter Wilson a little bit as well. Cunning strategy, Pete, but I’m on to your tricks!
So, Flynn gets some treacherous road to hoe and Wilson gets to flash his talents against inferior players: Advantage Wilson, albeit by a small margin, because quality of opponent. How can we make Flynn’s job all the more difficult?
I know! Let’s take away all his weapons and replace them with a guy who hasn’t played in over a year!
Sidney Rice was barred from even participating in practice for the first half of Training Camp (if you consider this time where we’re playing games a part of Training Camp, which I do). Rice was wearing a red jersey and was only allowed to run routes but never participate in 11-on-11 drills. Then, Baldwin went down mysteriously and Lockette went M.I.A. as well. To compensate, the team went out and signed T.O. and gave heavy playing time to Deon Butler – two guys almost guaranteed to not make this team (one definitely guaranteed, now that we know what we know). T.O. went out there in Denver – his first action after a long layoff – and pretty much did everything he could to let Flynn down. I don’t think T.O. did it on purpose, because I think he was doing everything in his power to try to win a spot on the team and make some money, but I DO think the team forced Flynn into targeting T.O. as much as possible. Maybe it was to see what T.O. had left in the tank … or maybe it was because they knew T.O. wouldn’t be ready and would make Flynn look all the more foolish.
If they really wanted to see what T.O. had left, wouldn’t they have left him in the game in the second half in Denver to have Wilson throw some balls his way? Just throwing that out there, because I didn’t see T.O. at all after the first half except on the sideline.
And now, right before the third pre-season game – where Carroll has finally decided to give Wilson a shot with the starters (again, against the worst defense we’d see all pre-season) – Flynn came down with this mysterious “dead arm”. Interesting. It’s also interesting that the Seahawks have a policy where the media is forbidden to speak with injured players. Not that I think Flynn would say anything, even if he WAS forced to lay low with a fake injury, but all these little pieces start to add up.
Also, surprise! Sidney Rice is finally okay to go out and play with the first unit this week! Would you look at that! Only a small percentage of targets to T.O., nearly a full contingent of receivers at his disposal, the terrible Chiefs defense … who wouldn’t look like a starting quarterback in this scenario, with all of these outside factors working against your only other competition in this so-called 3-man race?
Pete Carroll is a gunslinger. He’s also a shit-slinger, but he’s a gunslinger in the sense that he’s not afraid to take risks. To go for the hail mary, high-risk/high-reward type of gambit over the safe choice. I believe he and John Schneider went after Flynn believing that he was genuinely better than Tarvar and would come in to win a job accordingly. But, once they saw Russell Wilson was still on the board in the third round of the draft, I think they saw their wild card. Their ace in the hole. They saw a guy they can build a team around. A guy who could one day take this team to a Super Bowl and be a sensation in this league. As people have been saying all along, if Wilson was only a couple inches taller, he would have been a Top 10 pick. I’m beginning to see why.
Look, a lot of that up there that I just wrote, a lot of that is probably nonsense. But, it’s hard to avoid the fact that things went down a little odd in this whole competition for the starting quarterback job. Whether it was the team consciously trying to sabotage Flynn’s chances and make Wilson look better in the process, or if it was just blind, freak-ass luck that cost Flynn his starting gig, any way you look at it you have to admit one thing: Wilson won this job. Did he win it fair and square? We’ll never know. The only way we could possibly know is if both he and Flynn each played against the other team’s first-unit defenses. Since this parallel universe thing probably doesn’t exist, we won’t know who actually deserves this job.
Maybe Wilson would have looked like shit had he started against the Titans and Broncos. OR, maybe Wilson would have looked just as good as he did against the Chiefs. Don’t throw that out with the bathwater either.
Is it risky to start a rookie in the NFL? Of course, but look at all the rookies recently who have had huge impacts. Andy Dalton last year, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco a few years ago, hell, even Mark Sanchez guided his team into the playoffs as a rookie! With improved scouting comes improved game play on the field. You trust the Seahawks when it comes to just about every other position on the field; in a few short years they’ve reloaded this team and made it a contender. Now, they’ve found a rookie they love, who looks legit, and they’ve got the pieces around him to give him a soft landing in this league. This team is good enough to win 8 or 9 games regardless of who is playing quarterback. Charlie Whitehurst could start with this team and get us to 8-8! There’s no doubt in my mind that if Wilson can stay healthy, he can be one of those special rookies who sneaks this team into the playoffs as a Wild Card.
From there, the sky is the limit.