Several NFL teams have entered their 2012 training camps sporting a good, old-fashioned quarterback competition.
The Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals are all putting on the dog-and-pony show of having two or more quarterbacks splitting repetitions with the first team, all in the name of making decisions that should have (and could have) been made months ago.
Today, I want to focus on the Seahawks, who have been conducting a clinic on How Not To Handle The Game's Most Important Position since Pete Carroll was named head coach and given final authority over football matters.
Who knows how much of what is going on at the position falls on general manager John Schneider, but with the buck stopping with Carroll, he's the one who has to answer for what has been a comedy of errors at quarterback.
Carroll has rolled out three different starting quarterbacks and is probably close to sending out a fourth. Even worse, it would shock absolutely no one if the Seahawks started three different players at quarterback throughout 2012.
From swapping second-round picks with San Diego as well as giving up a third-round pick the following year for then-Chargers third string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, to allowing Matt Hasselbeck to walk out the door when he was clearly the most talented option on the roster (yes, he had back issues his final year in Seattle and was still light years better than Whitehurst), to giving the reins to Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle has been close to inept at choosing who it wants to play quarterback under Carroll.
Fast-forward to this offseason, and it seemed as though the Seahawks were finally heading in the right direction.
They locked in several core players to contract extensions, including running back Marshawn Lynch. (Obviously, this was well before his recent off-field troubles...) With the running game clearly set, the Seahawks signed free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn (after swinging and missing on Peyton Manning), seemingly ending the merry-go-round at quarterback.
Of course, as we now know, that was far from the case, as the Seahawks then went out, drafted Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and came out of minicamp declaring that Flynn, Wilson and Jackson would battle it out in training camp to see who would start for the Seahawks in 2012.
They've made a lot of bad decisions under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Look at the quarterback position. They gave away a third-round pick for Charlie Whitehurst. Bad move. And they still don't have one. Can Matt Flynn play? We'll see, but I don't think so. The way I see it, they have three backups on their depth chart at quarterback.
I don't agree with that last part. I think they have a clear starter in Matt Flynn, a veteran backup in Jackson and a guy who will develop into the starter someday in Wilson.
It's really not that complicated, but for some reason, Carroll feels it's more important to breed competition (or for it to be seen as if he is) at the game's most important position than to get the guy who will be starting the opener as many reps as possible.
The longer this plays out, the more Carroll and his staff are undercutting whoever the eventual starter will be.
Again, I think this is Matt Flynn's job, and the more opportunities he has with the first team will pay much bigger dividends down the road than constantly providing the team and the fans with shop-worn platitudes about "competition."
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers—all these guys want to take as many reps as they can. They demand it of their coaches. These are the best players in the game. If they need as many reps as possible in training camp, what service are you doing your team by splitting reps between Flynn, Wilson and Jackson?
At least Carroll appears to be self-aware, telling Sports Illustrated's Peter King, "We know we're sacrificing something by doing this but we think the competition is worth it."
Here's hoping Carroll is right, my reservations prove completely unfounded and the team's unconventional way of finding its starting quarterback pays off big time for the Seahawks and their fans.