LeBron James and Game 7: A chance to shape his legacy 6/19, 08:52 PM
Seattle again playing the role of Leverage City 6/18, 05:42 PM
Russell Wilson and the pleasant unpredictability of competition
OK, let me admit it: I tried to call Pete Carroll's quarterback competition too soon. As a result, much of what I previously said is outdated.
I shall punish myself by reading "Win Forever" over and over for the entire 2012 season.
Seriously, though, think about what would've happened if Carroll had done the same. If he had bowed to conventional wisdom and named Matt Flynn the starter already, he would've missed out on what he is always seeking: the best player without bias.
He would've missed out on Russell Wilson making the strongest case of any quarterback to date that he should be the Seahawks' starter.
I'm not going to engage in intellectual dishonesty with you. I'm not going to cling to my old thoughts about Flynn and act as if Wilson didn't move the needle Friday with his brilliant performance against Kansas City. I still like Flynn a lot and think that he'd be a fine starter, but it's impossible to ignore that Wilson is proving to be a more intriguing option. Performance should be able to change perceptions. That's the joy of sports. And for me, Wilson's play Friday, on top of the progress he has made throughout the entire preseason, has altered my thinking about the QB competition in these ways:
1. The notion that Wilson, because he's a rookie, is a significantly greater risk than Flynn no longer applies. Since he has arrived in Seattle, the third-round draft pick has shown that he is mature beyond his years. And now he has performed beyond his years. The numbers don't lie: His 119.4 quarterback rating leads all quarterbacks this preseason. While his impressive numbers were easier to question during the first two games because he was a backup playing against reserves and roster hopefuls, Wilson validated everything he has done on Friday by performing even better as a starter. He completed 13 of 19 passes for 185 yards, ran twice for 58 yards and led the Seahawks on scoring drives during their first six possessions. He's efficient. He makes plays down the field. He's a pass-first quarterback, but as a runner, he possesses the three deadly E's: effective, elusive and electric. He isn't turnover prone (he has learned from the one big mistake he made this preseason, a red-zone interception against Tennessee). And he makes quick, decisive reads and normally doesn't hold onto the ball too long.
While the regular season would present tougher challenges and game plans that would be designed to fool the rookie, Wilson has done enough to provide confidence that he could handle it. Kansas City was far from vanilla on defense Friday, and Wilson still thrashed them. He has a history of passing efficiency, and it's translating to this level. There's always a risk in starting a rookie quarterback -- and my man Hawk Blogger did a great evaluation of rookie starters -- but is the risk greater than starting a veteran backup getting his first chance to be the man? That's a good debate. And the fact you can debate it is a positive for Wilson.
2. It's worth noting how well the offense functions and the spirit it plays with when Wilson is in the game. Wilson played in a West Coast offense at NC State, and when he transferred to Wisconsin, he learned how to operate a power run game with a lot of play-action passes. Guess what? The Seahawks run a West Coast offense centered around a power run game. He's a natural fit and a quick learner. His mobility is also a plus with all the bootlegs and rollouts that the offense demands from a quarterback. The more you watch Wilson, the more you recognize how good he looks in the system and how his 5-foot-11 height is a non-factor in the system.
And then you must consider how energized the Seahawks look when Wilson is in the game. He makes big plays, and that uplifts the offense and everyone on the sideline. The Seahawks always have the potential to be explosive when Wilson is on the field. They haven't been able to say that in a long time.
3. The statement made in a 44-14 victory over Kansas City must be recognized. Did you notice how dominant and fun the entire team looked Friday? The Seahawks played well in all three phases of the game, and when the offense is scoring on every drive, it unburdens a team. This won't always be the case. In fact, I'm still not expecting the Seahawks to have a stellar offense this season, even if Wilson wins the job. There are still concerns and holes on the offense. But once again, Wilson is an energizer. We've seen the Seahawks at their best with him behind center. That must be recognized.
So, here's where I stand now: Confident in Carroll's competition-based system. I wrote early in training camp that Carroll deserves the benefit of the doubt because his unconventional ways have worked out quite often. My error in judgment was that I tried to pre-judge a competition. That's a big no-no when trying to decipher Carroll. I always thought the QB battle was designed to get the best out of Flynn, and maybe it was, but in a competition, there's always the chance that someone unexpected rises up and proves to be worthy of consideration.
Questions remain about how prepared the starter will be for Week 1 because of a lack of reps. For that reason, I thought Carroll would have named a starter by now. But ultimately, will that matter as much as choosing the right guy? Look at what patience in the face of convention did for the Seahawks this week. It revealed Wilson's virtue in a clear and unmistakable manner (and that's a virtue you may be witnessing for the next decade).
And who is the right guy, by the way? It's looking increasingly more like it will be Wilson, but I'm not in the business of evaluating quarterbacks. That much is clear now. So, for a change, I'll leave that to the professionals.
The Seahawks know what they're doing, even when they go against the norm.
Settle into the new NWhomes
Find indispensable tips, advice and information on new homes, rental properties, decorating, neighborhoods and more.