The two rookie roommates, Russell Wilson and Robert Turbin, sometimes sit in their room at night and try to see into the future.
Some call it visualizing, imagining themselves as successful, finding the paths toward football greatness.
Wilson admitted Monday afternoon after the Seattle Seahawks practiced that one of his goals for this season was to become the starting quarterback.
Coach Pete Carroll has decreed it so. Wilson starts; Matt Flynn competes for playing time as the backup; and Tarvaris Jackson ships out for the Buffalo Bills.
Flynn “did everything just fine,” as a candidate for the starting position, Carroll said Monday, but “Russell’s performance was just so far off the charts that we had to recognize it.”
Wilson gave Carroll absolutely no choice in the matter. He latched onto this job and made it his own.
This competition was a high-profile test case of the Pete Carroll Meritocracy. Its motto: The Best Player Plays. And that’s regardless of draft status, contract situation or political expediency.
That’s not insignificant. For a coach who goes into his third season without a winning record, there are risks in starting a rookie at quarterback rather than a veteran.
But the risk in not going with Wilson was greater — because it would reveal his fundamental philosophy as a sham.
That’s how convincingly Russell Wilson earned this job. And everybody on the staff, and surely most of the players on the field, know it.
Wilson’s statistics suggest he treats NFL preseason opponents with the same disregard he did those of the Big 10, when he compiled the highest passer efficiency rating in NCAA history last season at Wisconsin.
In three preseason games, he’s thrown for five touchdowns and completed 67 percent of his attempts for a 119.4 passer rating.
But he has worked very hard to make it look easy.
Receiver Golden Tate told of the dedication Wilson showed during the team’s summer break, continuing to be at the headquarters at 6 a.m. to study.
“He’s a true professional and he’s ready for the spotlight,” Tate said.
Carroll sees that drive and “tireless” work as a product of Wilson’s hyper-competitive nature. But beneath that, he said, are intangibles that you can’t coach, a “marvelous natural football intelligence and his great savvy for the game.”
We hear of outliers in the business world breaking through the metaphorical “glass ceiling.” Well, as a 5-foot-10-inch quarterback, Wilson has broken through the NFL’s “glass floor.”
“Me being a shorter quarterback, I believe I’m playing for a lot of other kids in the future,” Wilson said.
The liabilities of his height, debated since before the draft, seem almost irrelevant now. Instead, we’ve seen big-time arm strength, elusiveness and uncommon composure.
Even when the pocket collapses and he has to take off running (averaging 15 yards per carry), Wilson is under control, looking more like a talented slalom skier than a guy frantic to escape muggers in a back alley.
A couple specific plays may have provided tipping points for Carroll’s decision.
The first came in the fourth quarter of the second preseason game at Denver, when he was under pressure on a third-and-three. Being dragged down from behind, the wise quarterback knows he has no choice: Eat the ball.
But Wilson flipped it to a soft spot in the defense to receiver Lavasier Tuinei for a first down. A sack would have taken them out of field goal range. Throwing it out of bounds would have been a grounding penalty since he was in the grasp. But he ended up inventing a way to get a first down. Two plays later, they scored on a screen pass to Tyrell Sutton.
And last week against the Chiefs, he put on an important display of toughness, delivering a touchdown pass to Charly Martin as he was about to take a savage hit by end Tomba Hali. Wilson bounced back up as if it was a game of two-hand touch.
That’s why Carroll and his teammates are crazy about him.
Here’s why you’ll like him: When asked about his potential and the hype, he has humbly stated, “I get here early, I stay late, and I want to be great some day.”
Carroll is giving him that chance. And it’s the right choice even if it’s earlier than anyone other than Wilson could have envisioned.Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com