After observing the Seahawks' offense in training camp and in both preseason games, it has become clear to me that Matt Flynn has already been chosen by head coach Pete Carroll to be "the guy" for 2012. All the competition talk in camp was merely a formality.
To be clear, I'm not advocating for the Seahawks' talented third-round selection Russell Wilson as much as simply stating that he never really had a shot at the job this year.
Matt Flynn, while not flashy, has had two regular season starts (2010, 2011), four years of film study and NFL practices under his belt. This should facilitate opportunities to find soft spots in coverages Wilson may not see at this point in his young career.
Pete Carroll, Tom Cable and Darrell Bevell have known this since training camp, and the opportunities given to Flynn to run the first-team offense in practice—and now in the first two preseason games—paint a vivid picture even if Pete Carroll refuses to. Matt Flynn is the Seahawks' starter for 2012. Period.
I understand all of that, but doesn't Russell Wilson deserve a chance to play with the first team at least once in the preseason?
No. Comparing Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson's stat lines so far in preseason is an exercise in futility, because they haven't had the opportunity to take the same test. First-team reps versus second, third and so on is so completely different it boggles the mind.
This fact leads me to believe it would be downright foolish for Pete Carroll to insert Russell Wilson into the starting lineup for the Seahawks' third, and most critical regular season dress rehearsal game against Kansas City on August 24th. If Wilson was going to get a shot, it would have been against the Broncos in Denver.
Doesn't Russell Wilson's play-making ability give the Seahawks a better chance than the "safe guy" to win now?
No. While no one is questioning Russell Wilson's ability to manipulate the pocket and find avenues of escape under pressure leading to big plays, an offense needs more.
Matt Flynn is a less sexy, but more polished signal caller who won't make the eyeball-popping play with the same regularity—but should make the smarter one more often. The Seahawks' current make up of elite defense and smash-mouth running matches up much better with Flynn. For now.
Okay I'm almost convinced, but does starting Matt Flynn even guarantee the Seahawks a winning record or perhaps a playoff berth? I WANT US TO WIN NOW!!
No. The Seattle Seahawks defense will (see: 2011 49ers). This unit will be counted on to dominate, win the turnover battle, hand the offense great field position and limit opposition scoring opportunities.
Matt Flynn just needs to make smart, accurate and timely throws for first downs, limit turnovers, sprinkle in some big vertical plays downfield to create running lanes and hand the football off to Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin or Leon Washington and watch them go to work.
Okay, but will this run first, dominate defense and conservative ball control offensive style work?
YES! In 2011, new 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was handed an elite defensive unit coupled with a run-first mentality, but had huge questions at the QB position (sound familiar?). He implemented a plan to play tough on defense, protect his oft-bewildered starting QB Alex Smith by limiting his chances to make mistakes, run the ball, control the clock—and it landed them in the NFC Championship game.
Pete Carroll had to start from scratch in 2010, but I anticipate an eerily similar and equally impressive outcome for the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. Russell Wilson may one day lead this Seahawks team, but it is Flynn's job now, and it's obvious to me that Pete has wanted it that way for a while.
UPDATE: In a stunning turn of events, Adam Schefter is reporting Pete Carroll has chosen QB Russell Wilson to start the critical preseason game three against the Chiefs..Let the second guessing begin..