The quarterback “competition” in Seattle has been covered fairly extensively over the last few weeks due to OTAs and mini-camps that are now over until training camp begins. As the phrase goes, the cream rises to the top. However, the competition in Seattle is becoming both meaningless and overplayed. Let me explain.
Tarvaris Jackson has played in virtually the same offense his whole career. He is at maximum familiarity with the system. He has also been able to start many times and demonstrate what he can and cannot do, both when he is healthy and unhealthy, which I’m sorry to say is not impressive. I applaud any athlete who guts it out while being hurt, but let’s be serious, we all play hurt – those of us that play in amateur recreational leagues all the way to the pros – and what that means goes only so far. Circumstances can change and nothing is 100%, but that shouldn’t paralyze a team from change. For the Seahawks, Jackson’s ability is a known quantity. He’s not the quarterback of the future and if he is re-signed, it will be for less than he is making now and not to be the starter.
Matt Flynn, who was signed in the offseason for at least a guaranteed $10 million, is entering a new offensive system with new players. He has only started two games (both of which were amazing) and has no meaningful historical record outside of practice situations. That’s okay. The Seahawks knew that going in. The issue, however, is that Flynn is an unknown entity in regards to the Seahawks. Even if he has grasped 100% of everything that he has learned so far, he cannot catch up with six or so years in the same system that Jackson has. What Flynn has is upside potential that Jackson does not have.
For arguments sake, let’s say Jackson has reached 100% of his potential which registers about a 5 on a scale of 1 (Tebow) to 10 (Brady, Rodgers, etc.). That means that Jackson will never play better than a 5. Flynn, who is currently splitting first team reps three ways in camp, may not be higher than a 4, let’s say, due to the factors listed above. His potential however could be a 7 or an 8. That potential alone should make Flynn Seattle’s starting quarterback. Whether or not Flynn achieves starting quarterback potential greater than Jackson doesn’t matter because Jackson is known and Flynn is not. So even if he matches Jackson, it’s a wash with regards to the record and the correct choice financially.
Assuming my case is true, or at least plausible, it makes no sense to continue splitting first team reps between Jackson and Flynn (and even Wilson). This is just extending the time it takes for Flynn to reach maximum potential to a point where an informed decision can be made on Flynn’s future with the Seahawks.
As a fan, watching another season of Chicken Little in the pocket makes me want to take a long walk off a short pier (and I’m not sure my heart can handle the stress), but if I were to approach this rationally, I would stand by my case above. There is no point in wasting another season starting Jackson, when you could educate yourself on Flynn. Jackson isn’t taking Seattle to glory, that much is known. So there is a very limited downside to naming Flynn the starter. If Seattle misses the playoffs again it’s not like that wouldn’t have happened anyway with Jackson under center. If Flynn is absolutely atrocious, Seattle can start grooming third round draft pick Russell Wilson.
The quarterback decision is more important this season because of Seahawks’ schedule. Seattle plays Dallas, Green Bay, New England, San Francisco, and Detroit in the first half. Those are going to be tough games and if Seattle can manage to steal two, or even three, of those it would greatly improve their playoff chances. That means they need to let Flynn have as many reps as possible leading up to the season. There aren’t any spares. John Clayton just predicted Seattle to go 9-7 for the season. Potentially, this puts Seattle in wildcard contention but by no means guarantees a playoff berth, let alone home field. He’s more realistic than my bullish predictions, but I’m guessing he has Seattle losing to pretty much all the teams listed above.
Seattle’s missing puzzle piece is the quarterback. We know we have one option that doesn’t fit well enough and at least one other option that at least has the potential to fit better if only the Seahawks give him a chance. It’s time to end the “competition,” make a decision based on potential and what is known and unknown, and move forward. Only then, can Seattle take a serious step forward in rebuilding the franchise.