Seahawks' QB battle gets off to slow start
The first day of a positional battle that could be critical to the future of the Seahawks franchise got off to an uninspiring start Saturday as the three quarterback contenders were inconsistent and unconvincing.
They each had bright moments but also combined for a collection of overthrows, misreads, tipped balls and interceptions.
Look, the hitters are always ahead of the pitchers this time of year.
They’ve had a month off and they’re probably a little rusty, and two of the three are in their first season with the team, so it might be expected.
But given the importance of finding a leader at that position, every play is going to be subject to microscopic evaluation until the issue is resolved.
Here’s why: With a solid rushing attack and an elite defense already in place, an efficient, upper-half quarterback would be enough to put the Seahawks on the road toward long-term division contention.
If all three fizzle, well, we’re all familiar with what 7-9 seasons feel like.
“There was a little bit of everything today,” coach Pete Carroll said of the quarterback’s performances. “There’s going to be ups and downs across the board.
There’s no reason to evaluate today.”
But the fact is, they’re evaluating every snap. No, it’s way more than every snap.
“Everything counts, walk-throughs, early work, late work
the preseason (games are) going to be extraordinarily important, as well,” Carroll said.
Matt Flynn (free-agent acquisition from Green Bay), Tarvaris Jackson (last year’s starter) and Russell Wilson (third-round rookie) alternated in roughly equal proportions Saturday.
Flynn had some timely completions to a range of receivers, with his best ball probably a deep completion to speedy Ricardo Lockette. But he also had some misfires and had two passes deflected at the line (didn’t we think that was going to be the problem for the 5-foot-11 Wilson?)
Jackson had a really nice series near the end of practice but also several overthrows and an interception by cornerback Richard Sherman.
Wilson one time showed his elusiveness – by evading pressure – and his arm strength – by gunning a deep out for a completion. But he also had some wild deliveries and bobbled the ball a couple of times. (What about those huge and adhesive hands we heard about?)
“There were some good points and some low points,” Flynn said after practice. “It was just the first day
it is kind of expected.”
After minicamps finished in June, Flynn went back to Louisiana to study his playbook and work routes with new teammate Doug Baldwin. Baldwin was last year’s sleeper-star, an undrafted free agent who led the team in receiving.
Flynn said Baldwin was the first Seahawk to make contact when he was signed. Baldwin wore jersey No. 15 as a rookie. Flynn wore No. 15 in Green Bay.
The fact that Flynn now wears 15 with the Seahawks and Baldwin switched to 89 means that Baldwin is smart to butter up the guy who may be the new starter, and Flynn is smart enough to make friends with a reliable possession receiver.
Carroll said he’s established a strict protocol and timetable for solving the three-sided puzzle that is the quarterback position, but he is going to keep it a mystery for now.
Flynn can live with that.
“You talk to any of us, we will all say we want more reps,” he said. “We understand the Seahawks are based on competition. We understand also that it is going to bring the best out of us. I think we are all embracing it and we’re trying to get the most out of it we can.”
Counting snaps, looking forward, or focusing on how the others are doing, he said, are the kind of “mind traps” that are dangerous in a competitive training camp situation.
Flynn showed further veteran savvy in his interview Saturday. He was asked about critics of his arm strength – and he does have an unconventional delivery and does not seem to have that upper-end fastball.
“When it all comes down to it, you have to be smart and accurate,” he said. “That’s the main objective of the quarterback.”
Absolutely, and those appear to be his strengths. But those are the sorts of things that show up best in game situations, making this one of those rare times when exhibition games might actually be worth the expense of the ticket.
Carroll stated the obvious: Everybody knows how important it is to make the right decision. And he promised to show the “patience it’s going to take to make really good decisions
and this is just the first step of it.”
This may turn out to be the most important decision Carroll makes, but his three quarterbacks didn’t give him any overwhelming evidence to support their candidacy on the first day of the battle.