Inside Seattle's quarterback Carroll-sell: Timing of Russell Wilson's start
Pete Carroll's high-stakes move could define his legacy in Seattle
By Steve Kelley | The Seattle Times
Seahawks' Russell Wilson to start Friday
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times
Understanding why the Seahawks' are going to start Russell Wilson is not difficult. Coach Pete Carroll wants to see whether the rookie can replicate his second-half success the past two exhibition games if he's going against the opponent's first-string defense.
Why now, though? That's a question that is more difficult to answer, especially after Carroll's explanation that starting Wilson did not constitute a change in the team's original plans. The change occurred in which game it was Wilson would start.
"The change was that we didn't start Russell in Game 2," Carroll said. "That was one of my thoughts that we were pretty strong about so this is not a big deal for us to be doing it in Game 3 because we already thought that that would be the right thing to do. But then after reevaluating, I thought, 'Let's just stay the course one more team here.' So we did."
This surprised me because coming out of the first exhibition game, my best guess was Wilson would start the second exhibition game. My rationale was Seattle had played Tarvaris Jackson with the first-unit in the team's mock game on Sunday, Aug. 5, then Flynn got his turn on the exhibition opener on Aug. 11. Give Wilson a shot the next week in Denver, and then each quarterback would get one turn with the first-unit offense in a game situation and Carroll would have his body of information to make a decision.
So why didn't Carroll go with Wilson in Game 2 like he planned? Was Wilson's red-zone interception after the Seahawks forced a Titans' turnover scare Carroll? Was it something Flynn did?
"It's totally a gut feeling," Carroll said. "Let's keep it the same, and let's learn more. I thought we were making progress and we were moving along in a way I didn't want to change that."
But after thinking about that decision, I had another thought. Starting Wilson in the third exhibition game instead of the second accomplishes two things:
1. This gives Wilson the stiffest defensive test available this month.
The third exhibition game is the one opposing coaches generally game plan for. Not only that, but Arrowhead Stadium is considered one of the tougher environments for an opposing team. Coach Romeo Crennel is a defensive-minded coach, the Chiefs play a 3-4 scheme. So do Dallas and Green Bay -- the Seahawks' second and third opponents. For that matter, Arizona's defense is based in a 3-4 though the Cardinals aren't nearly so static, showing multiple fronts.
2. Matt Flynn could still get a shot with the starters this week.
NFL teams generally play their starters through the first series of the third quarter, which means that if Flynn starts the second half, he would still get a chance to work against the first-string defense.
Then again, as has been pointed out to me, maybe I'm trying to rationalize what is much more of a fluid situation. If Carroll followed a gut instinct to start Flynn again in Week 2, maybe he's simply responding to the fact he was wowed by the way Wilson played under constant pressure in the second half in Denver.
Whatever the reason, a quarterback situation that seemed to be settling down just got a whole lot more confusing.