Flynn vs. Wilson: The Debate Rages On
“In this situation, I think to make it the most competitive for our team, Tarvaris needs to be our starter right now,” Carroll said on July 30, 2011.
Thank goodness we have moved past this stage of Seahawks football.
With Head Coach Pete Carroll naming Matt Flynn the starter for a second consecutive week and following the same plan to play Russell Wilson in the second half, it appears Tarvaris Jackson’s chances of starting this season are nearly nil. While Tarvaris showed incredible toughness and some good leadership skills last season, the Hawks are in a much better situation with the new quarterback battle of Wilson and Flynn.
Each quarterback is new to Seattle and each quarterback is new to most fans’ eyes due to Flynn’s limited time starting in the NFL (or in college for that matter) and Wilson’s one year of major success in college (realizing he was solid before last year, but a bit more obscure at NC State). Each quarterback also brings different strengths to the table in the most intriguing QB race in Seattle since Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Dilfer in the early Holmgren years.
In the game against Tennessee on Saturday, Flynn exhibited the much discussed accuracy and pretty solid decision making. Meanwhile, Wilson exhibited the elusiveness and big play ability that have R-Wils backers salivating. (That seems weird). Unfortunately both QBs played well enough and in different circumstances that no clear leader emerged.
To be honest, going into the game I wanted Flynn to become the starter. While I do like Wilson’s potential, I fall into the camp that believes the team can’t reach full potential with a rookie taking snaps (apparently ignoring Andy Dalton’s success a year ago). I also like to think that Flynn can be a top-10 type QB in the NFL and the Hawks can push themselves over the 49ers in the NFC West with the free agent pick up. And this may end up being true, but right now Russell Wilson is pushing for my attention. Not to mention, the starting role.
While I will not analyze every snap and throw, I will say that Wilson looked to have good zip on his ball and was more accurate than I expected. He also showed the athleticism that makes people root for him to start. Aside from the designed bootleg for a touchdown, Wilson scrambled for an additional 27 yards in the game. He looked quick, agile and smart when getting out of the pocket. Wilson also displayed a good arm with his deep ball to Braylon Edwards. At the same time, the ball to Edwards was much more about Braylon’s ability than any quarterback. He made an incredible adjustment on the ball and punked the Titan defender for the score. Wilson also made a poor decision in a critical area as he threw an interception into the end zone. While the decision may have been ok, the throw was pretty awful.
(For more on Russell Wilson’s throws, check out this awesome analysis by Davis Hsu at Field Gulls).
Flynn also threw an interception when he lost LB Colin McCarthy in coverage and tried to zip a ball to WR Ben Obamanu. Flynn flat out didn’t see McCarthy from what I could tell on television. Of course, Flynn was 8 of 8 before the INT and looked incredibly accurate. It is hard to describe what made Flynn look so good without making him sound like a “game manager”, a monikor that so many sports fans seem to hate. To me, Flynn looked like Matt Hasselbeck at his best. He not only hit receivers in the hands, but on “simple” throws hit receivers where they could continue to make plays. For example, Flynn threw a great out route to TE Zach Miller where the ball arrived in stride so Miller could turn up field for a couple more yards despite the defender in close proximity. That is extremely valuable to have in a quarterback and gets under appreciated. Additionally, Flynn showed how good he can be with a solid run game which the Hawks showed early on behind a solid offensive line and RBs Leon Washington and Robert Turbin.
Where this competition gets a little tricky is who each QB played with and against in the game. Flynn got to play with the first unit and behind a first unit line (which looked good), but also played against the Tennessee first unit. On the other hand, Wilson played with second unit players, but against Tennessee’s back ups. Yet it gets more complicated. The Seahawks didn’t play Terrell Owens, Marshawn Lynch, Kellen Winslow, Doug Baldwin or Sidney Rice. That is a lot of weapons that could make either QB look pretty good. Which leaves us…..at the beginning.
There is a QB battle in Seattle, we know that for sure. It now appears to be leaving Tarvaris Jackson behind. We should have known that months ago. But who has the lead between Flynn and Wilson? We will have to wait and see how they both perform in Denver this weekend. The good news for Seahawks fans is that they both look pretty good thus far.