This was supposed to be a two man race for Rookie of the Year (ROY) honors. It was going to be either #1 Draft Pick Andrew Luck of the Colts, or it would be Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of the Redskins. These two QB’s have been playing steadily all year, turning their teams around, transforming them from cellar dwellers to playoff teams, and catching nearly all the headlines of the major sports media. But a funny thing happened on these two guy’s way to the ROY award. Russell Wilson of the Seahawks has put up a ROY season of his own, having guided his team to 10 wins and the playoffs. All the more amazing when you consider how Wilson started his pro career just months earlier.
Who is this Russell Wilson guy? He was drafted 75th overall in the third round and started the season as a 3rd stringer behind the previous year’s starter and a new free agent with a big contract. Wilson whose height will never crack 6’0″, so impressed his coaches in summer camp that they made it a 3-way competition for the QB job. After he won the job, most “experts” in the sports media confidently predicted Wilson would “be a good backup, but is not starting QB material”. He was dismissed as too short, but they overlooked Wilson’s primary asset as a player. His brain. He is a student of the game like no one other than maybe Peyton Manning. His work ethic is second to none. His leadership is contagious. His confidence is off the charts. His stats are right there with the other two guys. What’s different is Russell Wilson is actually re-defining the position of NFL quarterback to fit HIS capabilities.
Sunday night everyone in the country finally got to see what the whispers were all about on this rookie QB Wilson way up in the United State’s version of western Siberia, Seattle Washington. The first hint that something was happening in western Siberia came when the Seahawks beat the division leading Chicago Bears at home in week 13. It’s safe to say no one saw that coming, including a lot of people in Seattle, since the team had just lost to the Dolphins the previous week. The amazing thing about that win over the Bears was Wilson had to win it twice. After seemingly securing the win with a long drive with under 30 seconds on the clock, Seattle’s defense allowed a long pass to get the Bears in field goal range. They made the kick and the game went to OT. This is when things changed for Seattle’s season. Wilson put the team on his shoulders, and took the ball 80 yards on Chicago, throwing and running through their defense at will, and getting the winning score while Chicago’s offense sat helplessly and watched the birth of a green and blue monster.
The next week Wilson and Seattle spanked the Cardinals, who they lost to back in week one, 58 – zip. That shocking score gained the solid interest of the national sports media. The following week, Seattle put the stake through the heart of their “road curse” by dominating the Bills in Toronto in another 50 point blow out. Now the media had all eyes and ears on Wilson and Seattle, and Russell Wilson has officially entered the ROY “discussion”. Sensing something was happening in Seattle, the network changed the Seahawks/49ers game to the ‘Sunday Night Football’ showcase.
With the nation’s eyes on Seattle and their rookie QB, the Seahawks dismantled THE BEST DEFENSE in the league, while holding the 49ers potent offense to two field goals until late in garbage time where they finally managed to cross the goal line. And this was the same 49er team that only a week before beat New England in their own stadium.
Tweets by sports writers after the game not only indicate Wilson is “in the discussion” for ROY, but may now actually be LEADING Luck and RGIII. Russell Wilson may be late to the party, but he’s just kicked in the door and taken over the DJ’s booth. And he’s playing his own tune, the one that says a 5’10″ quarterback CAN play in the NFL. He’s having to redefine how a quarterback plays to get back whatever advantage he loses by being 4 inches too short for an NFL quarterback. But that’s all the more reason to give him the nod for Rookie of the Year. How many other rookies have had to redefine their position in order to play at a high level? The ROY award has been given to lots of “prototype” quarterbacks who came into the league and had a good year. But maybe this year it’s about more than that. Maybe it’s about a “pioneer” as commentator Trent Dilfer said on a post game show; a guy who will open doors and eyes and make it a little easier for undersized players to play quarterback in the NFL.
Jason La Canfora from NFL Insider tweeted last night, “Barring a Seattle QB getting hurt this week, look for Tarvaris Jackson to be shopped. Also wouldn’t rule out Cards adding a QB before season.” This is yet to be verified and still has only rumor status, but it both makes sense and could be a smart move for the Seahawks. Instead of waiting to cut Jackson after the fourth preseason game and getting nothing but some cap-space in return, the Seahawks could also throw in Cameron Morrah, or Anthony McCoy, or any one of our plethora of receivers that are on the bubble and possibly get an upgrade at receiver or tight-end.
Jackson played started 14 games for Seattle last season and finished with a 7-7 record; the same winning percentage he entered with. At the time it seemed like Jackson was brought in largely because of newly signed offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s affection for him along with Sidney Rice. While I have never been a big fan of Jackson, he was serviceable at best, with both Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson looking just as good, there is no reason to not try to obtain something for the final year of Jackson’s contract. I would say Jackson ranks high among backups due to being a veteran and having been a starter. This could prove attractive for some teams.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. Clearly, first-team reps are becoming increasingly scarce and the lion’s share of them have gone to Flynn over the last two weeks. John Schneider has been a shrewd manager and has a lot of connections throughout the league. Teams that I could see showing some interest for a solid backup QB are Kansas City, Oakland, Buffalo, Arizona (although I don’t think Seattle would make this trade), and Atlanta. All in all, there is no harm in shopping Jackson around just to see what interest there is at this point.
It was the best of times and the better of times. Last Saturday’s preseason game against the Tennessee Titans did nothing to temper my optimism for the upcoming season. I saw a defense that was ready to run roughshod over anybody brave enough to stand in their way and an offense that, working with the defense, should win more than eight games. Matt Flynn started the first half and Russell Wilson played the second half. I saw two very different quarterbacks with very different skillsets, mindsets, and playing styles. I’m going to try to break them down a little bit and offer my opinion on what should happen should nothing substantially change going forward.
First up is Matt Flynn. He played with the first offensive team and did alright. He didn’t knock the socks off of anybody, but I didn’t expect him to. I don’t think anyone else should expect it either. He is a quarterback that is going to manage games, play within his abilities, stay in the pocket, methodically run the offense, and minimize mistakes. Flynn is similar to Matt Hasselbeck in that he is a game manager, but he isn’t naturally going to try to take it over and make deep throws unless he needs to. A lot of the called plays during Flynn’s time were rushing plays as well, which will be typical once the season starts. The Seahawks were trying to get Robert Turbin some experience in its run-first offensive scheme. Flynn’s game stats show this with 11 for 13 completions, 71 yards, and an interception.
Russell Wilson played with the second unit and after most of the Titans’ first defensive players were out of the game. That being said, Wilson looked very good. He was exciting, well prepared, and showed amazing speed. Wilson is somebody that will create and make plays happen instead of just methodically managing the game. Wilson also has a hard time staying in the pocket. His first tendency is to roll-out and see the field from there. Fortunately, he’s hard to catch once he’s off and running, but it also means he is harder to protect. Wilson’s height is definitely going to be a factor in his quarterback abilities. His one interception is an example of how he struggles a bit. It was straight downfield and he had to drop the ball in the last 10 feet of the end zone, over a defender’s head. Wilson didn’t give it enough lift and it was easily picked off. Wilson had to look over the line, downfield, and beyond another defender to drop a ball in a very tight window. This is something he will have to learn to compensate for. Overall, Wilson’s stats were good, completing 12 for 16 for 124 yards, rushing for 59 yards, two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing) and an interception.
I know Wilson has his diehard supporters and didn’t see everything out of Matt Flynn that they needed or wanted, but I still think Flynn is the person to start the season as the Seahawks’ number one quarterback. The Seahawks offense is built more to Flynn’s abilities than to Wilson’s. We don’t have a huge deep-threat receiver. We are going to most likely be running two TEs and a lot of short-to-medium routes oriented toward getting first downs instead of the big play. This is better-suited for Matt Flynn since he has trouble throwing the ball deep but is very accurate in the short and middle distances. Flynn is also a pocket-passer which is preferential to our line since they are generally still developing. You could argue that we need a mobile QB to stay alive in this situation, but I really think our offensive line would benefit experience-wise from a more traditional QB.
Lastly, I see Russell Wilson being capable of becoming Seattle’s future quarterback. He is a rookie with a growing team. One could argue that he should develop with the team as a starter, but I would encourage him to learn on the sideline for a few seasons. If Flynn doesn’t pan out, Wilson will undoubtedly get a chance. I just don’t really believe in the whole baptism-by-fire mindset of starting rookie quarterbacks their first year. (There are obviously special cases, Andrew Luck being one, but I have no doubt that Luck will have struggles during the season as well.) Flynn is the right quarterback as the Seahawks exist right now. In a few years, after Seattle has to retool its receiving corps and other parts, they can make it a more Wilson-oriented offensive unit.
No matter what, though, I see the beginnings of a great team. I am looking forward to it being the best of times when it comes to Seattle football.
It’s always sort of like taking a new car out for a test ride when a new quarterback takes the field. It always helps to have done a little homework on the various options and differences with that new car prior to setting out for the dealership. Many fans have only seen short snippets of the 3 Seahawks’ QBs on the evening news, but have read a good deal about them. So, in this first pre-season game what are the fans going to be looking for versus what Pete Carroll might focus on regarding the play of his QB? Is it possible for Matt Flynn to have a great game but be a disappointment to his coaches? Might what looks like a great play to fans be a “fail” to his coaches? For example, what if Flynn misses all his reads when he comes up behind center, scrambles for his life, and miraculously finds an open receiver for a touchdown? Is that a good play? Or will coaches give him bad marks for missing the reads and failing to audible out of the play?
On the other hand here are some of the things Flynn might do which could appear as “bad” plays to fans that Pete Carroll will absolutely love;
1. Flynn drops back to pass, can’t find a receiver and throws the ball away. That might be marked as a positive on the part of the QB for not throwing a risky pass into coverage and getting intercepted, unless film later shows there was an open receiver.
2. Flynn comes to the line, looks over the defense and calls a time-out. Rather than going ahead with a play that will go nowhere, he can go talk it over with coaches and discuss the look the defense was giving him and plan an appropriate audible for the next time that look comes up.
3. Flynn drops back to pass, and drops to the turf for an easy sack. Some of the worst game-changing QB mistakes come on plays where the QB tries to make something out of nothing. If the defense is getting the better of Flynn’s protection, it’s a veteran move to go down and live to throw another play. Maybe the coaches can change the protection to stop the problem with their pass rush or call a play that could take advantage of over-aggressive defenses.
Of course, we would all like to see Matt Flynn come out and tear up the opposing defense. Here’s what I’m going to be watching for in the seconds between the drop back and the release of the ball. If Flynn does these things well, he could very well avoid the mistakes new quarterbacks make that turn the game against them.
1. Quick decision making. I hope to see Flynn’s head moving around as he checks off his first, second, and third options instead of locking in on one receiver.
2. If the first option is open, I will be looking for NO hesitation before the throw. We had a whole year of that with T-Jack and we all know what that looks like. So do defenses, and they’re going to exploit any hesitation.
3. Sensing pressure. This is a critical skill for any QB. Flynn seemed to have a great feel for the pocket in Green Bay. If he is to be successful, he needs to feel that pressure and take a few steps away from the pressure as he’s looking for his receivers to open up.
1. I’ll be watching the huddle. You can see body language by both the QB and the other players in the huddle as the play is being called. Also the break and how the team approaches the line can indicate how players feel about how things are going.
2. When a play is over, whether it’s successful or not, I’ll be watching for players attitudes when they come back to the huddle. Are they frustrated? Are they “pumped and jacked” as Pete Carroll likes to see them? Are they communicating positively or in an exasperated way?
3. What’s happening on the sidelines when Flynn is talking to coaches? Is it relaxed, tense, animated?
4. I want to see Flynn congratulate his receivers when they make a play, but also maybe have a short conversation to get things straight after an incompletion. This is key to Flynn building his leadership with the team.
1. Quick decision making.
2. Avoiding the forced throw.
3. ”Touch” on the pass.
4. Throwing high to the corner or back of the end zone where only the receiver can make the play.
5. Adapting to the short field with more compact coverages.
So, how will this “test drive” go for Flynn and what will the implications be? Keeping in mind this is the first game and defenses are almost always ahead of offenses this early in the pre-season, I’m thinking it could be pretty ugly for our new QB in a new system on a new team. But if it is, it’s possible to be ugly in a positive way. Flynn could have a good game with a bad result and still come out on top of the QB battle as long as his decisions are sound.
I’ll be watching all these things and taking notes for both QBs during both halves of the game so I can report back next week on what I saw. On the other hand, maybe I’ll just grab a bowl of nachos and a 6 pack and yell at the TV for two and a half hours, scare my dogs, and make a general nuisance of myself to my family. Ahhh yesssss! Football season is FINALLY HERE!
The quarterback “competition” in Seattle has been covered fairly extensively over the last few weeks due to OTAs and mini-camps that are now over until training camp begins. As the phrase goes, the cream rises to the top. However, the competition in Seattle is becoming both meaningless and overplayed. Let me explain.
Tarvaris Jackson has played in virtually the same offense his whole career. He is at maximum familiarity with the system. He has also been able to start many times and demonstrate what he can and cannot do, both when he is healthy and unhealthy, which I’m sorry to say is not impressive. I applaud any athlete who guts it out while being hurt, but let’s be serious, we all play hurt – those of us that play in amateur recreational leagues all the way to the pros – and what that means goes only so far. Circumstances can change and nothing is 100%, but that shouldn’t paralyze a team from change. For the Seahawks, Jackson’s ability is a known quantity. He’s not the quarterback of the future and if he is re-signed, it will be for less than he is making now and not to be the starter.
Matt Flynn, who was signed in the offseason for at least a guaranteed $10 million, is entering a new offensive system with new players. He has only started two games (both of which were amazing) and has no meaningful historical record outside of practice situations. That’s okay. The Seahawks knew that going in. The issue, however, is that Flynn is an unknown entity in regards to the Seahawks. Even if he has grasped 100% of everything that he has learned so far, he cannot catch up with six or so years in the same system that Jackson has. What Flynn has is upside potential that Jackson does not have.
For arguments sake, let’s say Jackson has reached 100% of his potential which registers about a 5 on a scale of 1 (Tebow) to 10 (Brady, Rodgers, etc.). That means that Jackson will never play better than a 5. Flynn, who is currently splitting first team reps three ways in camp, may not be higher than a 4, let’s say, due to the factors listed above. His potential however could be a 7 or an 8. That potential alone should make Flynn Seattle’s starting quarterback. Whether or not Flynn achieves starting quarterback potential greater than Jackson doesn’t matter because Jackson is known and Flynn is not. So even if he matches Jackson, it’s a wash with regards to the record and the correct choice financially.
Assuming my case is true, or at least plausible, it makes no sense to continue splitting first team reps between Jackson and Flynn (and even Wilson). This is just extending the time it takes for Flynn to reach maximum potential to a point where an informed decision can be made on Flynn’s future with the Seahawks.
As a fan, watching another season of Chicken Little in the pocket makes me want to take a long walk off a short pier (and I’m not sure my heart can handle the stress), but if I were to approach this rationally, I would stand by my case above. There is no point in wasting another season starting Jackson, when you could educate yourself on Flynn. Jackson isn’t taking Seattle to glory, that much is known. So there is a very limited downside to naming Flynn the starter. If Seattle misses the playoffs again it’s not like that wouldn’t have happened anyway with Jackson under center. If Flynn is absolutely atrocious, Seattle can start grooming fifth round draft pick Russell Wilson.
The quarterback decision is more important this season because of Seahawks’ schedule. Seattle plays Dallas, Green Bay, New England, San Francisco, and Detroit in the first half. Those are going to be tough games and if Seattle can manage to steal two, or even three, of those it would greatly improve their playoff chances. That means they need to let Flynn have as many reps as possible leading up to the season. There aren’t any spares. John Clayton just predicted Seattle to go 9-7 for the season. Potentially, this puts Seattle in wildcard contention but by no means guarantees a playoff berth, let alone home field. He’s more realistic than my bullish predictions, but I’m guessing he has Seattle losing to pretty much all the teams listed above.
Seattle’s missing puzzle piece is the quarterback. We know we have one option that doesn’t fit well enough and at least one other option that at least has the potential to fit better if only the Seahawks give him a chance. It’s time to end the “competition,” make a decision based on potential and what is known and unknown, and move forward. Only then, can Seattle take a serious step forward in rebuilding the franchise.
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Arizona, featured, football, Free agent, green bay, head of football operationsm, John Schneider, Kevin Kolb, Lions, matt cassel, matt flynn, matt haselbeck, Matt Leinart, Matt Schaub, Miami Dolphins, nfl, Patriots, quarterback, receiving corps, Seahawks, Seattle, Sydney Rice, tarvaris jackson
Why We Should … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, cardinals, football, forty niners, Frank Gore, Jeff Fisher, Jim Harbough, John Skelton, Josh McDaniels, Kevin Kolb, Lockout, National Football League, NFC West, nfl, quarterback, rams, Sam Bradford, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
I have touched a few times on the humble rise of Seattle’s rookie QB, Josh Portis; before sports … [visit site to read more]
Tags: Charlie Whitehurst, coach, football, Free Agency, John Carlson, Minnesota Vikings, nfl, Oakland Raiders, Pete Carroll, QB, quarterback, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, sidney rice, tarvaris jackson, Tight End, wide receiver, Zach Miller
Tarvaris Jackson is a 6′-2″, 225 lbs. running/passing machine. He has a cannon for an arm, throws well on the run and is very good at eluding the pass rush. His accuracy has wavered in the past, but with some time and development could turn out to … [visit site to read more]
News was released over the weekend that former Minnesota Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson, will be the starter for the Seahawks going into the 2010-11 NFL season. Charlie Whitehurst, the ‘Hawks longtime backup to Matt Hasselbeck, is projected to be a … [visit site to read more]
Let me just get this out of the way first. I refuse to call Matt Hasselbeck, Mathew. I know that’s what he prefers, but it just sounds wrong. You can’t change it now. No disrespect, but I’m sticking with Matt. Sorry Steve Raible, but if Warren calls him Matt then I’m calling him Matt.
All that being said, Matt Hasselbeck is unquestionably the greatest Seahawks quarterback in franchise history. He has gone farther than any other quarterback, and he led the Hawks during their most prolific years.
Over the last 10 years Hasselbeck has thrown for over 3000 yards in a season 7 times. He may not be the most exciting athlete to watch on the field or even in commercials for that matter, but he has a toughness and persistence that has allowed him to stay in the same city for 10 years, most of them as the starter. Not too many other quarterbacks can make that claim.
Hasselbeck is a little bit Brett Favre, a chunk of Jim Zorn, and a whole lotta Trent Dilfer with Mike Holmgren’s Brain.
His progression was constant as he developed from a cocky, brash player with a mean competitive streak into a well spoken, cerebral player with a mean competitive streak. Hasselbeck has a career record of 69-62. He’s thrown for 29,434 yards, or 16.67 miles, over his career. Matt’s best statistical season was in 2007 when he threw for 3966 yards, 28 tds, and just 12 ints. Hasselbeck’s best season, however, has to be 2005 when he had a qb rating of 98.2 and a win streak of 11 games starting at week 5. He brought an NFC Championship game to Seattle, won it, and took his team to the Super Bowl. He and his team played well enough to win that Sunday, but they didn’t. … [visit site to read more]
Thanks to Sammy and Andy for the comments on the previous post. Although both disagreed, I appreciate it. Sports would be boring if we all liked the same thing.
A few weeks ago I did the same top 3 thing with Seahawks wide receivers, and I used more than just stats to measure a player’s worth to our beloved organization. Here is the criteria I used in creating these lists in order of importance:
1. A player’s statistics when they played for Seattle and that is it. For example Warren Moon and Jerry Rice were arguably two of the greatest players to play for the Hawks, however, they put up the majority of their numbers with different teams, therefore, they would not make the list.
2. The number of years they were a Seahawk. Loyalty is an important factor for my list.
3. Moxie. Statistics aren’t everything. Some players have the ability to compensate for a slight lack of skill with attitude. How much does this player give the fans on game day? A leave-it-all-on-the-field type of player gets credit for this.
Number 2: Jim Zorn … [visit site to read more]