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Flynn throws his talents into the QB competition

Posted Mar 19, 2012

Matt Flynn is the newest Seahawk, and he said Monday that the family atmosphere he sensed during his visit to Seattle last week was a big reason he decided to agree to terms with the team on Sunday.

Now that Matt Flynn has agreed to become a Seahawk, the obvious question isn’t just why, but also how.

The former backup quarterback to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay had other options, including the Miami Dolphins – who are coached by Joe Philbin, the former offensive coordinator with the Packers. The Seahawks also explored other avenues, including making a run at Peyton Manning – the iconic QB from the Indianapolis Colts who is in negotiations with the Denver Broncos.

So, why Flynn to the Seahawks? And how?

The newest Seahawk and his new coach, Pete Carroll, addressed both topics – and many others – during conference call interviews on Monday.

“When I came up to Seattle, I just felt very comfortable with everything,” said Flynn, who visited the Seahawks on Thursday and Friday before making a trip to Miami to meet with Philbin and the Dolphins on Saturday. “I felt like there was a family environment up there.

“After doing soul searching, I feel very excited about the opportunity up there. I just felt like it was the best fit for me and gives me the best opportunity to be successful.”

The Seahawks had an insider’s take on Flynn, because general manager John Schneider was in Green Bay when the Packers selected the QB from LSU in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Carroll admitted that he knew little of Matt Flynn the NFL quarterback, but said he handled everything the Seahawks threw at him – including an unexpected on-field session during his time at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

“We brought him in here and he lit it up with the staff,” Carroll said. “He was extraordinary on the board and talking football. We were very impressed.

“We went into a throwing session with him and asked him to do a variety of things we had questions about. From throwing the ball in the pocket, to moving around and putting the ball down the field, he was very impressive. He has worked very hard and has improved in many ways from way back when to where he is now. He is a better athlete and a better thrower and stronger than he’s ever been.”

Offered Flynn, “I didn’t know going into it that I was going to be throwing. … I think they just wanted to see me throw, see my footwork, see just the throws I can make. They asked me to do it, and I was totally up for it. We kind of had fun in the workout. It was real laid back.”

That leads to the next – and obvious – question: Where does Flynn fit in the quarterback picture, where the team already has incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson? Does Carroll expect Flynn to be the team’s starter in 2012? “I don’t know that,” Carroll said. “It was very clear how we delivered the message, that we now have the opportunity to make it an open competition. Tarvaris is well ahead. He’s the guy that’s here working for us now.

“I told Tarvaris when I talked to him (Sunday) what we were doing with Matt, bringing him in here to compete for the job. He’s going to make everybody better and help our football team. That’s really clearly where it is. There are really no surprises here. … I expect T-Jack to be better and I expect Matt to come in here guns blazing trying to see if he can take that job. It will be a great situation for us.”

Carroll added that he expects the QB position to be “a highly contested spot.”

No problem, Flynn said – with his words and, more importantly, his actions.

“Coach Carroll, we talked about it, and he’s big on competition,” said Flynn, who was in Baton Rouge where he played his college ball. “I’ve always been a firm believer in competition. I think it brings the best out of everybody. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

“It’s something that I can’t wait to get it started and get it rolling.”

Flynn, 26, conceded that there isn’t a lot of tape of him playing in the NFL. In four seasons with the Packers, he started two games. But what starts they turned out to be. In 2011’s regular-season finale, Flynn set franchise records by passing for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a victory over the Detroit Lions. In his only other start, he threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a four-point loss to Tom Brady and New England Patriots in 2010.

Other than that, however, Flynn has thrown 51 passes, completing 27 for 284 yards, with no TDs and three interceptions.

“I’ve learned a lot from (Rodgers),” Flynn said. “I can’t put a price on the time I spent in Green Bay, and learning from Aaron and learning from the coaches up there. If it wasn’t for them, I probably won’t be in the spot I am today.

“They built my game, everything from the mental aspect to the physical. I think I’ve grown in the last four years and just learned a lot about how to play football – what defenses are trying to do; what it takes when you’re a starter in the NFL.”

Jackson and Flynn came to the Seahawks with a background in the West Coast offense, but they are not passers from the same pod. Jackson has a stronger arm, while Flynn is more accurate. Jackson knows the Seahawks’ system, because he played in it under coordinator Darrell Bevell with the Minnesota Vikings as well as last season; but Flynn is smart and has shown to be a good decision-maker.

Jackson posted career highs in yards (3,031), completions (271) and TD passes (14) last season, despite playing the final 10 games with a damaged pectoral in his passing shoulder.

“He was under amazing stress, and stood really tough and strong and competed his way through it,” Carroll said. “So T-Jack has an opportunity to continue to get much better. With Matt coming in, I think we really are going to make this a very highly contested spot. But with depth and with the kind of competitiveness that can give us a real good 1-2 punch, however it works out.”

On Flynn, Carroll added, “Matt is really a team guy first. He talks about all the right things. He understands that he has a role to fit into. I think he has a very good conscience about him. He knows good football. He’s been in a great program.”

Luring Flynn to Seattle is the kind of move fans have been waiting for since Carroll and Schneider took over in 2010 – one that could become the franchise’s biggest transaction at the pivotal position since acquiring Matt Hasselbeck in a trade with the Packers in 2001.

If Flynn can be as productive as the last QB named Matt that the Seahawks acquired from the Packers, everyone will be happy.

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