The Seattle Seahawks have this saying plastered at the opening of the tunnel heading onto CenturyLink Field to symbolize the competitive environment created by coach Pete Carroll. He has consistently stated that every job on the Seahawks' roster must be earned through competition. Watching Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson duke it out, it's apparent that Carroll is adhering to this premise at the quarterback position.
While most expected Flynn to waltz into the starting role after signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract in the offseason, he has yet to win the job outright after two preseason games. In fact, he is embroiled in a surprisingly competitive battle with a rookie third-round draft pick.
With two weeks of game film to study, here are my thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' quarterback situation:
Flynn has been as good as advertised following a four-year run in Green Bay as Aaron Rodgers' backup. He has been steady and consistent from the pocket, displaying outstanding instincts, awareness and anticipation. Flynn has shown a solid mastery of the Seahawks' offensive system by regularly getting to the second and third options of the progression. This forces opponents to defend the entire field while allowing the offense to remain on schedule. Flynn has averaged a disappointing 3.9 yards per attempt in the preseason, but he has been plagued by dropped balls from his receivers (see: Terrell Owens).
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From a game-management standpoint, Flynn has been solid in orchestrating things from the line of scrimmage. He routinely gets the Seahawks to the line quickly and makes the appropriate checks to get them into favorable plays. It is easier to handle this process during the preseason against defenses that are conservative in coverages and fronts. But the fact that he has shown a solid grasp of the complexities of Seattle's offensive system is an encouraging sign at this point.
In two preseason games, Flynn has shown solid leadership while guiding the Seahawks to four scoring drives (all field goals) in 10 possessions. He has made enough conversions in critical situations to sustain drives, but Seattle must produce more touchdowns to be effective in the regular season.
Wilson has been a pleasant surprise for the Seahawks. He has quickly grasped Seattle's offense and shown the playmaking ability that helped him excel in his collegiate days at Wisconsin and North Carolina State. Most impressively, though, Wilson has been superb from the pocket. He has consistently delivered accurate strikes to all areas of the field, and shown no issues throwing over towering defenders, despite his diminutive stature (he's listed at 5-foot-11, 206 pounds). I've been impressed by Wilson's accuracy, ball placement and anticipation on throws from the pocket.
Wilson brings an added dimension with his speed and athleticism on the perimeter. He routinely escapes pressure and finds a way to pick up hidden yardage on impromptu scrambles. This creates tremendous pressure on the defense and could allow the Seahawks to incorporate more movement-based passes to create big-play opportunities.
Wilson has been superb in all areas of game management. He has directed the offense well from the line and guided the Seahawks to six scoring drives (five touchdowns and one field goal) in 10 possessions. He has faced mostly backup competition on opposing defenses, but Wilson's propensity for putting the ball in the paint is impressive for a rookie signal caller.
It will be hard to bypass Flynn as the starting quarterback, considering his solid play throughout the preseason and the hefty financial investment Seattle made in him. Flynn was recruited to be the franchise quarterback and hasn't done anything to disappoint thus far. However, Wilson appears to have special skills at the position, and his ability to thrive as a dual threat could be problematic for opponents in the regular season. I expect Flynn to get the first crack at the job when the regular season opens, but if the marquee free agent struggles at any point, I wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson get the call.