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Which QB will it be?
Understanding the situation is imperative to playing the quarterback position in the NFL.
Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn are very aware of the competitive situation they find themselves in as the Seahawks’ offseason program moves closer and closer to becoming real football. Jackson, the incumbent starter, and Flynn, the former backup for the Green Bay Packers who was signed in free agency, spoke about their friendly rivalry for the first time on Friday.
Their quick Q&A sessions with reporters followed a brisk workout on a fall-like morning at Virginia Mason Athlete Center, completing Week One of Phase 2 in the non-OTA program.
Jackson was the first to take snaps, because “he’s already earned that here,” as coach Pete Carroll put it. Jackson was added in free agency last year, but was awarded the starting spot because of his familiarity with the offense being installed by new coordinator Darrell Bevell and the lack of an offseason due to the 136-day lockout. Jackson had played under Bevell the previous five seasons when both were with the Minnesota Vikings.
This year, however, things are different. There is an offseason, and Flynn presents more competition than former backup Charlie Whitehurst did – or was allowed to.
“It’s a lot different this year,” said Jackson, who was 7-8 as the starter last season despite playing his final nine games with a damaged pectoral in his throwing shoulder. “I’m just here to compete like always and just see how things play out.”
That’s also why Flynn is here. After making two very-productive starts in his four seasons with the Packers, he signed with the Seahawks because he was seeking a chance to become the starter – a situation that never was going to happen in Green Bay due to the presence of Aaron Rodgers.
“It’s different because I know I’m going to be competing and I know everything I do matters,” Flynn said. “In Green Bay, I kind of had the luxury of sitting back and learning and being able to take my time in the progression of becoming a better quarterback.
“Now I get to come in here and compete and get the opportunity. That’s what I came here for, and that’s what I’m excited about.”
Excited isn’t exactly the word Jackson used to describe the Seahawks acquiring Flynn.
“I’m not a GM, I’m not a head coach, so I can’t go pick exactly who they want or say, ‘Don’t get a quarterback,’ ” a smiling Jackson said. “If I could I would, believe me.”
After the laughter subsided, Jackson added, “But that’s not how things work. So I’m just here to compete, and may the best man win.”
Or quarterback, as it turns out.
The QB situation will become even more spirited, if not immediately more competitive, next week when just-drafted Russell Wilson shows up for the weekend rookie minicamp. Then there’s also Josh Portis, who made the team as a rookie free agent last year.
“We’ll take a good look at Russell,” Carroll said of the team’s third-round pick in last week’s NFL Draft. “I just really can’t wait to see him in our uniform and playing ball with us. We’ll see where it goes. We’ve done everything we can to make this position as competitive as possible.”
For now, it’s a two-armed race. Friday was the first offseason session open to the media, and all eyes and cameras were on Jackson and Flynn.
“The competition is on, and I’m sure those guys are well informed about that and they understand that,” Carroll said. “It’s going to be really exciting to see that turn out.”
If either Jackson or Flynn didn’t understand the situation, the competition might be over before it really gets started. As it is, it’s Jackson who is helping Flynn with the nuances of the offense – which is similar in style, if not always terminology, to the West Coast system he ran in Green Bay.
“We hit it off as soon as I got here and we’ve got a good relationship and it’s kind of cool,” Flynn said. “We’re in meetings and we’re kind of learning off each other, kind of telling each other things that we’ve learned in the past and stuff like that.”
Asked how he is balancing this competitors/yet-friends relationship, Flynn offered, “I think both of us know it’s a competition and I think both of us are excited about the fact that the competition is going to make us both better at being a quarterback and being a team leader.
“I think we’re both excited about that. I think we’re trying to push each other also, when the time comes, I know that we’re going to have to lean on each other. It’s a good relationship and there’s no bad blood or anything like that. It’s all good and we’re cool about it.”
And when might the time come when Carroll decides the “winner” in his friendly competition?
“There’s no timeline,” he said. “The format is really just to do everything I can to organize it and orchestrate it so that they get a legit shot at showing what they can do with all the guys that are available. We’re going to have to mix and match it and just make it a real cool process and hopefully it will show itself somewhere down the road and we’ll figure it out then.”