Not many people predicted that the Seattle Seahawks would be starting rookie QB Russell Wilson in the first game of the 2012 season after they spent 26 million over three years in free agency on former Packer Matt Flynn.
A seventh-round pick in 2008, Flynn has had very little time to shine through his five years in the league—but when he has gotten the chance to play, he's been superb. He threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in the final game of the 2011 season, and many teams began to think of him as a potentially solid starting QB.
Despite his athletic style of play and impressive accuracy (72.8%, only four interceptions in 300-plus attempts), Wilson was a third-round pick with the odds stacked against him immediately. At 5-11, many scouts thought he would be too short to perform at a high level. He was seen as a project at best with little upside.
However, Wilson greatly outplayed Flynn in the preseason. He threw five touchdowns to Flynn's one, and he passed for 300-plus more yards. In addition, Wilson showed more chemistry with his receivers and was more adept at creating big plays when the team needed it.
Many fans are questioning the point of a four-game preseason in which the final results are meaningless, and all stats and accomplishments are wiped clean once the regular season begins. But a story like Wilson's proves the value inherent in the preseason. Without time to prove himself in these exhibition games, he would not have been considered for the starting job.
The spirit of competition has always brought the best out of players in sports, and Wilson's play in the preseason is a clear indicator. What may seem like a boring tune-up game to the fans is actually a chance for players to show their potential and prove that they are not limited by the narrative the media or their team expects them to follow.