Everybody knows what the Seahawks offensive strategy is going to be this season. Pete Carroll has carefully built this team around the run game featuring Marshawn Lynch and his hard-hitting, take no prisoners running style. As a back up to Lynch, Carroll even drafted a Lynch clone in Robert Turbin. That’s how important the running game is in the Seahawks plan. Offensive line coach Tom Cable was hired to put together a run-first offensive line and recent OL draft picks like Carpenter and Okung have reflected that philosophy. So what kind of QB does a run-first scheme require? One that doesn’t turn over the ball, make critical mistakes, or get sacked for large losses of yardage. That QB is Matt Flynn.
Now if I know this, every Defensive Coordinator in the league also knows the Seahawks are a team that’s built to run the ball. In the NFC West, teams are actively working on strategies to STOP Carroll’s run-first offense. And unfortunately for the Seahawks the 49ers have the defense to effectively put the clamps on Lynch. What Carroll and Cable do when the 49ers and other good defensive teams stack the box against the Lynch/Turbin attack is the basis for my concern about Matt Flynn being given the keys to the Seahawks offense.
In Flynn’s first two starts of the pre-season he’s been called “pedestrian” by sportswriters. “Flynn hasn’t played himself out of the job” is the mantra this week when he went 6 for 13 and 31 yards. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement. I’m thinking about mid-season, after teams have had time to review film of Seattle. They’ll see Flynn’s weaknesses, and analyze the successes other teams have had stopping Seattle’s running attack. And if they do stop Lynch does anyone think Matt Flynn is going to take this team on his shoulders and beat opponents with his passing? In other words, is Flynn a big enough passing threat for defenses to pay any attention to him instead of our vaunted running game? He hasn’t shown us anything like that thus far in his 2 starts.
Russell Wilson has shown himself to be a passing and running threat, albeit against second team defenses. He has the kind of skill set that will keep the team from bogging down if the defense is effective in sniffing out and running down “beast mode”. Wilson is a play-maker. He manufactures plays when blocking breaks down as he did on his second play on Saturday when a blitz collapsed the pocket. He showed his elusiveness in slipping out of two seemingly sure tackles, turning a loss into a modest gain and keeping the team in a short yardage situation. The next play was a Robert Turbin first down. This is the kind of play you need from a quarterback to keep defenses honest. A QB has to deliver a completely different and legitimate threat when a defense keys on the run. Wilson has done this 2 weeks in a row. Flynn hasn’t.
It’s been a healthy 3-way competition at the QB position. Now it’s a 2-way contest with T-Jack on the trading block. The only thing left to find out is; can Wilson repeat his throwing, scrambling, running success against a number one defense? With 2 games left Carroll needs to take a chance on starting a QB controversy by starting Wilson in pre-season week 3. Better for it to see what he has now than in week 5 sitting on a 1 and 3 record, trying to salvage a season with a QB change.