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Seahawks 2012: Quarterbacks
The national perception seems to be that Pete Carroll is borderline crazy for turning the Seahawks’ quarterback situation into a three-man competition for the starting job.
Yeah, crazy like a fox.
By giving each QB his chance this spring – in a daily rotation, with almost equal repetitions day after day – Carroll has created a situation where every snap counts. Every pass turns into a pass-fail proposition. Every foible is featured. Every good play becomes even better.
And Carroll will continue this mano-a-mano-a-mano maneuvering with incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson, free-agent addition Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson in training camp and even into the preseason.
Who’s in the lead? Too close to call. Who will get the first-day starter reps in training camp? Jackson, because he’s the incumbent starter. But the next day, he’ll slip to third as Flynn takes over at No. 1. The next day? It will be Wilson’s turn to run the No. 1 offense.
That way the coaches will continue to see all three not only work with the starters, but also the No. 2 and No. 3 units in a myriad of mix-and-match situations.
“We’re pleased with all three of them,” second-year offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “They’ve all handled themselves pretty well. They all performed pretty well in the OTAs and the minicamp.
“I think right now it’s a pretty stiff competition. And that’s what we’re looking for.”
Is it an ideal situation for the passers involved? No. But then how often does a quarterback operate in ideal situations on game day during the regular season?
The coaches – Carroll, Bevell and QB coach Carl Smith – are ratcheting the competitive circumstances even before this trio gets into the usual situation where competition becomes a factor.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,” Bevell said. “No. 1 is to find the best guy. No. 2 is to be able to have them compete for it, because obviously any time you compete for it you become harder and more prepared and more ready for whoever comes out the other end of that type of competition.
“So it’s just preparing them for what the season is going to hold.”
There are experience issues. While Jackson started 14 games last season, and has 34 in his six-season NFL career, Flynn started just two games in four seasons as the backup to Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers and Wilson is a rookie – albeit one that started and won at North Carolina State before moving on to Wisconsin and winning even more last season.
But it was difficult to gauge the experience gap at times during the spring practices.
“They’ve all had good days,” Bevell said. “But there are definitely keys that you’re looking for. You want them to be able obviously run the offense very well, but protecting the ball is huge, and making the correct decisions, getting us into the right plays.
“With all those things, there really is a lot that goes into it.”
And there can be only one who emerges as the starter. Which one, remains to be seen.
With that said, here’s a look at the pivotal position:
Quarterbacks on the 90-man roster: Four
QBs carried on the 53-man roster: Three in 2011 and 2010
Incumbent starter: Tarvaris Jackson
Incumbent backup: Josh Portis, No. 3 last season
Signed in free agency: Matt Flynn
Draft pick: Russell Wilson
Outlook: Regardless of who wins the starting job, the position is stronger than it was last season – when there was no offseason for first-year coordinator Darrell Bevell to install his offense and Jackson was named the starter before ever practicing because he also played under Bevell with the Minnesota Vikings. Incumbent backup Charlie Whitehurst has re-signed with the San Diego Chargers, the team that traded him to the Seahawks in 2010. He will be replaced by the second-place finisher in the QB competition. Do not read anything into the amount of money the team paid to sign Flynn in free agency or the fact that Wilson is a rookie. As Jackson has said, “He’s not like a regular rookie.” Coach Pete Carroll will go with the quarterback who wins the on-going competition, and gives the Seahawks their best chance to win.