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Originally published Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 6:03 PM

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Pete Carroll has always handled the quarterback situation in Seattle his own way

Carroll's quarterback ways definitely not conventional

Seattle Times staff reporter

QB candidates

Matt Flynn

Age: 27 Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 225

Experience: Entering fifth season

Contract: Signed three-year, $26 million deal with Seahawks in March.

The skinny: He's been the starting quarterback in just one of his previous nine seasons of football, but in that year, his Louisiana State Tigers won the national championship. He joined Dan Marino and Kurt Warner as only quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for three or more touchdowns in each of his first two starts.

Tarvaris Jackson

Age: 29 Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 225

Experience: Seventh season

Contract: Entering the final season of a two-year, $8 million contract he signed in 2011.

The skinny: Tarvaris Jackson had a .500 record as a starter in Minnesota (10-10) and a .500 record as a starter last year in Seattle (7-7). While he was courageous playing his final 10 games of the season with a strained pectoral muscle, he must convince the Seahawks he can improve his fourth-quarter performance to remain Seattle's starter.

Russell Wilson

Age: 23 Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 206

Experience: Rookie

Contract: Signed a four-year, $3 million contract this year.

The skinny: Wilson was chosen in the third round, No. 75 overall. It was the first time since 2005 the Seahawks had chosen a quarterback in the first half of the draft. Seattle has started four quarterbacks as rookies in team history, but Jim Zorn was the only one of those four who was not a first-round choice.

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RENTON — There are plenty of ways to describe how coach Pete Carroll has handled quarterbacks in Seattle.

Conventional, however, is not one of them, so it shouldn't be a surprise that people across the NFL are cocking their eyebrows skeptically at the three-headed monster of a quarterback competition that's currently underway in Seattle.

Ever since he arrived in Seattle in 2010, Carroll has shown he knows exactly one way to handle that position: his own way.

That was true two years ago when Carroll introduced a quarterback competition when no one thought there was much of a comparison between Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst. Then a year later, when everyone expected a competition, Carroll named Tarvaris Jackson the starter before he was eligible to practice.

And now, Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson are alternating days with the first-unit offense, a round-robin competition that Carroll is doing everything he can to highlight without discussing the specifics of when — or how — a decision on the starter will be made.

"It's going to be interesting to watch," Carroll said. "I'm not going to tell you the specifics of that."

This is not how things usually work in the NFL where most coaches view a quarterback controversy as if it were a dental procedure without Novocaine. At the very least, it's going to be uncomfortable, and it might turn out downright excruciating.

Coaches have all sorts of ways around it from downplaying the competition to denying it entirely. It's a handbook of sorts on how to cool the question about competition.

In Miami, the Dolphins are sorting out a three-way competition between incumbent Matt Moore, first-round choice Ryan Tannehill and veteran David Garrard. Practice repetitions with the first-unit offense are determined day to day, handed out as they are earned, according to new coach Joe Philbin.

In Tennessee, the Titans have a heads-up competition between the starter last year, Matt Hasselbeck, and the first-round choice last year, Jake Locker. Things are even, coach Mike Munchak said last month, with fans divided between something old and something new at that position.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is using competition as a firepoker of motivation for incumbent starter Kevin Kolb.

But Carroll leads the league in adjectives to describe his competition.

The schedule for evaluation? "Very strict," said Carroll.

The criteria for a decision? "A big-time formula," he said.

The fact he's offered no specifics on either the timetable or rationale being used in the evaluation isn't surprising. He's a football coach not an elected official. His job is to pick the best quarterback, not to be transparent while he's doing it. Besides, scrutiny is just part of the job description for a quarterback.

"This is for a starting spot in the NFL," Flynn said. "So it's going to get more attention and you see that all over the NFL."

But while most coaches would attempt to turn down the temperature on the quarterback competition, to dilute the suspense and the scrutiny, Carroll is trying to make Seattle's pocket boil.

Pressure can bust pipes, but it can also produce diamonds, and by staging a three-man, musical-chairs competition at quarterback, Carroll is getting a chance to see which player can make the most of his limited reps against a defense that ranked among the league's top 10 last year.

"We are not going to cater at all and make it easy for quarterbacks," Carroll said this week. "We are going to stress them as much as possible."

That is one way to pick a quarterback. More specifically, it's Carroll's way.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

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