As the Seattle Seahawks enter the 2012 season, the starting quarterback position is far from set in stone.
Incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, rookie Russell Wilson and newly-acquired Matt Flynn will all be dueling for a spot when training camp opens.
With head coach Pete Carroll not giving away any hints into the competition, they each seem to have an equal chance of claiming the starting gig.
Each of the candidates will show pros and cons in their performances. The Seahawks will need to decide who will lead their team forward in 2012.
Jackson will enter training camp as the starter, according to John Clayton on SportsCenter.
Wilson had a very strong rookie camp and impressed coaches with his handle on the offense. Flynn has showed flashes, but simply could not distance himself from the other two. Jackson finished the season last year as the starter and his performance earned him the starting role going into camp.
Here is a breakdown of each contender for the starting quarterback position.
Fans were quick to dismiss Jackson after he posted forgettable season statistics.
Jackson finished the 2011 campaign with 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions. He completed 60 percent of his passes, yet took 42 sacks during 15 games.
However, Jackson played a majority of the season with an injured pectoral and still performed decently enough for the Hawks to finish 7-9.
Regardless of his health, Jackson should be known as a veteran backup at this point of his career. He can be a dynamic dual-threat quarterback but he simply has not produced during his time as a center.
The Seahawks should look at Jackson as an insurance policy at this point.
Jackson lacks the decision-making ability and accuracy to thrive in Darrell Bevell’s offense.
Some have even questioned if Jackson will remain on the roster through training camp. With Josh Portis on the roster—a cheaper, less talented version of Jackson—T-Jack could find himself searching for a new team when the preseason begins.
The addition of two new quarterbacks may spell the end of Jackson’s run as a starter in Seattle, but at this point in time, it’s truly his job to lose.
Wilson represents a great unknown.
He was a highly successful NCAA quarterback: He found success at both North Carolina State and, most recently, Wisconsin. During his one season with the Badgers, he shined, finishing with 3175 yards while completing almost 73 percent of his passes. He also threw 33 touchdowns while running for six more, and threw only four interceptions.
The Seahawks drafted Wilson in the third round of the draft, No. 75 overall, which was the highest pick used on a quarterback since 1999.
Wilson really impressed the coaches during organized team activities and minicamps with his maturity and natural ability. After the rookie minicamp, Wilson essentially forced his way into the competition with his performance.
According to ESPN, Carroll was going to move forward with a two-player competition yet could not leave Wilson out of the race.
Wilson is an extremely smart quarterback, and even though he is a smaller player, he has an unusually strong arm with some excellent deep-ball accuracy.
He thrived during his NCAA career, and according to FootballOutsiders, there is no reason fans should not expect him to continue his production.
Wilson entered the draft with the highest score in the Football Outsiders’ Lewin Career Forecast, which takes into account college football success when attempting to predict NFL success.
However, during any debate over Wilson, his height comes up. Wilson stands at 5’ 11”, which apparently was his biggest negative entering the draft.
Wilson is short, there’s no way around it. But, other short quarterbacks have found success in the NFL (see: Brees, Drew and Vick, Michael). Yet, both of those players were selected before Wilson was.
Wilson has as good of a shot as anyone, and with an open-minded coaching staff, he will get his chance during training camp.
Flynn’s future is nearly as uncertain as Wilson’s.
After sitting behind Aaron Rodgers for four seasons, Flynn was rewarded with a three-year, $26 million deal. By shelling out so much money for a quarterback, many assumed Flynn would grab the starting job without competition.
However, Carroll has silenced those claims, saying Flynn’s contract will play no role in the competition.
Matt Flynn had a legendary day during Week 17 of last season, as he set a Green Bay record by tossing six touchdowns against the Detroit Lions.
However, that was only one game, and Flynn will have to prove he can produce every Sunday in the NFL. He has not differentiated himself from the other two quarterbacks so far, and that may worry some.
Flynn is attempting to learn a new offense, and with each passing day he’ll become more accustomed to the Hawks.
He has only started two games through his NFL career—two more than Wilson.
Flynn is a very accurate passer, especially in short to intermediate passes. Up to this point however, he simply has not had enough time to show what he can do.
The biggest gripe against Flynn revolves around his arm strength, and some have described Flynn as having a “popgun” arm.
Deep passes may not be Flynn’s strong point, but with Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, Flynn should be able to use play action enough to get the ball downfield.
Flynn will have lofty expectations placed on him due to his lucrative off-season contract, and the adjustment to a new offense will take some time.
He will certainly need to impress coaches during training camp if he wants a shot at the starting gig.