Flynn relishes chance to start
Matt Flynn will start Saturday's exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Tennessee @ Seattle, 7 p.m., Ch. 13
RENTON — Nervous?
Matt Flynn's not nervous to start a football game.
Now spiders, they make him nervous. He absolutely hates them, but when you spend four years as an NFL understudy like Flynn has, you don't get stage fright at the prospect of starting, you get ready.
"I'm excited I get the opportunity," Flynn said. "This is kind of what I have been looking for and waiting for."
He waited four years in college for his chance to start and led Louisiana State to a national championship as a senior. He went to the NFL as a seventh-round pick, beat out a second-round pick for the Packers' backup job and spent four years learning behind Aaron Rodgers, one of the league's best.
Now, it's not necessarily his turn, but it is his chance in Seattle. He will start Saturday's exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field, he'll play through the first half and try to make his best case for why he should be Seattle's starter when the season opens.
"I'm looking at it as a chance to go out there and prove that I can run this offense," Flynn said. "Prove that I can take control and move the ball."
He's the headliner of this game for Seattle's offense. New receiver Terrell Owens won't play. Neither will Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette, who are recovering from leg injuries. Running back Marshawn Lynch isn't expected to play much, and coach Pete Carroll suggested Lynch may not even dress for the game.
That leaves the focus on Flynn, the quarterback who most around the league assume will end up as the Seahawks' starter when the regular season begins. He's the single-biggest investment the team has made at quarterback since Carroll became head coach. Flynn was historically prolific in his first two career starts and he was the highest-profile QB not named Peyton Manning who was available on the open market this offseason.
But soon after Flynn picked the Seahawks, the team flung him into the deep end of a three-way quarterback competition. That changed this week when Carroll named Flynn the starter not only for Saturday's exhibition opener, but for three days of practice. No rotations. No uncertainty.
"He has really assumed the role," Carroll said. "Which I asked him to do. Just take over. You're the guy, in all aspects of that. We've had a very good week of practice."
For the first week of training camp, Seattle's defense held a clear advantage in the 11-on-11 scrimmage drills. From the tall starting cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman to the speed of rookie pass rusher Bruce Irvin, the offense had a hard time finding a rhythm. During last Sunday's mock game, Seattle's three offensive units had a combined total of 15 possessions, which produced exactly two touchdowns.
But after Flynn was installed as the starter this week, the Seahawks' first-unit offense found a consistency it had been missing. It started Wednesday as the anticipation and timing Flynn was known for stood out in what was his best day of practice during this training camp. He completed two passes to Zach Miller, leading the tight end perfectly into diving catches. Flynn also hit Golden Tate in the end zone on a perfectly thrown corner fade over Browner.
"He's looked very strong," Carroll said. "He's very much in command."
Carroll said when this week started, he wanted to see how the team looked with Flynn as its starter. So far, the answer is pretty good, but the biggest statement will be made in Saturday's game when Flynn is expected to play the first half.
To call this a make-or-break moment would be an overstatement, but to say it's just another exhibition game for Flynn is underselling it. There's a lot he's playing for.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @dannyoneil.