The question was on the lips of frantic Seahawks fans Saturday night: How will quarterback Matt Flynn play in his first appearance in a Seahawks uniform?
Here’s the good news for you folks: It almost doesn’t matter.
If the Seahawks are as aggressive on defense as they were against Tennessee, and the rushing game is this productive, the Seahawks could be having a three-way quarterback race between Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer and Charlie Whitehurst and it wouldn’t make much difference.
Both Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson had bright spots Saturday night.
But the Seattle defense scored a touchdown on the first Tennessee offensive play. Earl Thomas deflected a pass, and Brandon Browner grabbed the loose ball and returned it for a 23-yard touchdown with only 9 seconds gone in the game.
And the first time Flynn got a chance to show his skills, the rushing game dominated a 62-yard drive for a field goal. Considering the quality of the Seahawks on defense this season, taking an early 10-0 lead like this may be all they need.
Flynn completed all six of his pass attempts on that drive, but for less than 5 yards per attempt. The rushes averaged more yards per attempt than Flynn’s passes.
But the chains were moving.
Wilson got his chance in the second half – playing with reserves against reserves – and made a fabulous first impression, completing a 39-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards on his first drive. His composure, athleticism and accuracy adds heat to the competition.
Flynn didn’t exactly grab the job by the throat (as his 57.4 passer rating attests), but he looked comfortable and mostly in command.
Even though Flynn, Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson had received fairly balanced snaps during practice, Flynn seemed to be the front-runner, having signed a contract that included $10 million in guarantees.
Wilson, a third-round draft pick, was expected to need some time to get up to speed with the NFL game. But he’s nonetheless getting the chance to prove his worthiness.
And the plan is for Jackson to get fewer reps during the exhibition season on the theory that the staff had a full season last year to evaluate his attributes.
Although Flynn has only two NFL starts, he showed Saturday night he understands how the position is played. That’s more important than it sounds because the position is about much more than just throwing passes.
He should have a fundamental command, having spent four years sitting in meeting rooms watching Green Bay Packers films with league MVP Aaron Rodgers.
So much of what he has to offer is managing the offense, being an administrator, getting everybody in the right spot, reading defenses well enough to get them out of bad plays at the line.
It’s obviously early in the exhibition season, and he’s in a new offense, so he’s still in that period of adjustment. And that should be even more of a challenge for Wilson, in his first NFL camp.
Flynn got sacked once when he didn’t get rid of the ball in time, and another time when he was not quick enough to get away from a collapsing pocket – the sort of play in which Wilson excels.
Flynn’s biggest mistake came when he threw an interception on a slant-in pass when he didn’t see linebacker Colin McCarthy drop into coverage.
He also bobbled a shotgun snap that was fired high and hard by backup center Lemeul Jeanpierre.
Coach Pete Carroll stressed the decision is a process, and the staff wants to take the time needed to pick the right player.
But it’s also clear that the sooner they decide, the more time that guy will have to develop the necessary rapport and timing with the players who will be out there when the games count.
Flynn and Wilson gave him a great deal to study.
Flynn finished the first half having completed 11 of 13 for 71 yards. And one of his incompletions was a drop by tight end Anthony McCoy.
The most important number, though, was the 10-0 score the Seahawks had on the board when Flynn was still operating with the first team.
While the competition at quarterback will continue, the efforts of the first-unit defense and running game make the outcome less email@example.com