Aug 11, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) carries the ball during the 2nd half against the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Tennessee 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

A Call for Moderation Regarding the Seahawks' Quarterback Competition

I am starting to feel like the only person who decided not to drink the kool-aid at the Heaven’s Gate convention.  After Russell Wilson’s great performance people have become flat out hyperbolic and I fear may have lost a little perspective along the way.  Yes, Wilson did have a good game.  For those that have been Wilson boosters the whole time, and down on Flynn, this is exactly what they have been looking for.  Now they have all the information they need, never mind the insanely small sample size of one preseason game.

Wilson did look good.  He showed poise, a strong arm, good decision making, and it helped that Terrell Owens finally decided to catch a ball.  Wilson had a quarterback rating of 134.8, which is fantastic.  He completed 13-19 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.  (Wilson also rushed for big yardage but I don’t believe that a quarterback should be evaluated on his rushing skills since ideally he is going to run the offense from the pocket and not put himself, and his team, at risk by running in the open field very often.)  Flynn also got the help of having Sidney Rice in double coverage which allowed the other Seahawks receivers to become more open.

I realize that these are details in a larger picture, but if people are going to mainline confirmation bias like it’s the end of the world, they are worth pointing out.  I now understand why quarterback “controversies” can become so detrimental to a franchise.  This hasn’t even really been that bad of one, but you still see people taking hardline positions – mostly on Wilson’s side for whatever reason.

Admittedly, Matt Flynn hasn’t looked totally sharp this preseason.  That doesn’t always mean much, however.  Flynn apparently is suffering from some sort of elbow issue and I have no doubt was also told to throw to certain people and make certain plays in order to test out another players’ abilities (looking at you, TO).  One could look at this and say that Pete Carroll trusts in Flynn’s ability enough on its own that he can be used to test out the abilities of other players.

If we are going to be using insanely small sample sizes to evaluate a quarterback then it also means we should look at Flynn’s regular season game from last season against the Detroit Lions.  Flynn completed 31 of 44 passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns.  All of that got him a rating of 124.8 which is also fantastic.  It defies logic to look at one quarterback’s numbers and dismiss his competitors simply because you may have a preference.  Anybody that claims Flynn is any worse than Wilson is just ignoring facts when you look at the actual numbers.

Flynn is not nearly as mobile as Wilson.  He is a pocket passer that controls the game by running through his progressions and taking what is there.  Wilson still has trouble reading defenses (failed to pick up a KC blitz a couple times) but is able to compensate through his mobility.  Compensation and creativity don’t equate to experience and understanding, however.

At this point, I can’t honestly say I know who will start.  I know the Wilson proponents are much more aggressive, vocal, and stubborn, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely rational.  The realization I have come to over the last few days is that I have to have the same trust I’ve had in the past that Pete Carroll will make the best decision.  There is no reason I would second guess him now when I haven’t done so in the past.  I hope that all the other 12th Men realize this as well.  If Flynn gets chosen, I hope all the Wilson supporters get behind the decision. Nothing would make me angrier than hearing a stadium booing Flynn and chanting “Russ-ell” the first tough game Flynn has.  Whoever Carroll chooses, there will be tough games.  I express this concern because of the way talk radio, the papers, and some commentators have been slurping down the kool-aid.  Wilson is the new kid in town and if you believed some you’d think he can walk on water.

In the end, I suppose, this is just a plea for unity, moderation, rational analysis, and continued faith in the PCJS experiment.  Instinctually, I tend to be very skeptical of over-excited bandwagon riders and their claims, as well as arguments that seem based on a single event or limited data (and there have been a few on this site and in the comments section).  Putting Russell Wilson on a pedestal doesn’t do him any favors either.  Whatever one may think, he still has a long ways to go and is far from becoming the next Steve Young or Drew Brees.  It’s even far too early to claim he is the best quarterback of his draft class.

The way I see it is the Seahawks have a “high-quality” problem.  They have a choice between two good quarterbacks that can lead their teams to victory, albeit in very different ways.  In the next ten days or so, Pete Carroll will make his decision and I hope that the second-guessing is limited and the faith remains alive.  I know I will support whoever starts game one under center.  After all, both options are better than Tarvaris Jackson.

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Tags: Matt Flynn Pete Carroll Quarterback Competition Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks

  • Nick harris

    So i somewhat disagree with small sample size and how you judge the players. Flynn had that game in a completely different offense. I think you are downgrading the effectiveness of being a mobile QB. I agree that it could hurt the team if an injury occurred but this is the NFL time to wear the big boy pants. I was upset with this article but you sold me on the last paragraph. Well said.

  • Bob K

    A call for moderation…then he sneaks in some lame arguments for Flynn and against Wilson. Good gawd. These Flynn supporters are totally off the charts when it comes to being unreasonable. These are the people who did not want to give Wilson *any* chance, even though he was spectacular at everything he did. It would have been a crime against humanity if these people got there way and a star like Wilson — who has proven to be the better quarterback and better man for the job when he was given a chance — had to sit the bench without a fair chance.

    These people who have underhandedly supported Matt Flynn don’t know football. They just go around parroting each other. They are of incapable of evaluating and comprehending that someone like Russell Wilson can be that good. That level of talent does not compute with them.

    Also, I hate to say it, but there have been racial implications as is the usual when a young black quarterback challenges a white veteran. The white sports media has been totally close-minded and ridiculous in supporting Flynn as, apparently, their Great White Hope; while the African Americans in the media like Warren Moon, Curt Menefee, Mac Strong and eventually even Jerry Brewer, have been totally open minded and reasonable. Again, I hate to say it, but I have to attribute the close-mindedness and the viciousness with which the sports media tried to block Wilson from getting any chance to subconscious racism.


    • Hanley H. Bonynge

      You don’t have to agree with the argument or the analysis, but you’re the exact type of person I’m talking about when it comes to over the top hyperbole. Labeling somebody that you don’t know a racist simply because you can’t handle a disagreement over sports says more about you than anybody else.

      According to your logic, preferring a person for a role who happens to be a different gender than the other option would make a person sexist. Only a paranoid individual would claim that the entire sports-media complex is against Russell Wilson for the sole reason that he’s black (never mind the fact that the sports-media complex isn’t against Russell Wilson).

      There are plenty of people in Seattle — in the papers, on the radio, TV, and internet — that have been supporters of Russell Wilson and made the case for him honestly and passionately. Only a small-minded, insecure, paranoid, delusional human being would boil an argument over starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks down to race.

      You and the rhetoric you spew are exactly why moderation and sensibleness is needed. It’s people like you that make discussion, or even argument, completely void of meaning and purpose due to your own fear and narrow-vision of the world around them.

      In your three paragraphs, you didn’t refute one statistic or argument I made. You simply went from implying that I was racist to flat out calling me one, simply because you disagree over who should be Seattle’s starting quarterback.

    • 12thMan_Rising

      This comment really bothers me. Earlier in the preseason I supported Flynn. My reasoning was entirely about football, and not wanting to rush Wilson. I’ve seen many promising young QBs ruined by starting them too early, and I wanted Wilson to be given the time to be properly prepared before being thrown to the wolves.

      I come from a mixed race family. Racial issues and undertones are in the very forefront of my mind. YOUR blanket assessment as to what you assume to be my motivation is actually hate-filled, racist, and completely inaccurate.

  • thelastporkchop

    You talk of small sample size and highlight Wilson’s and Flynn’s one good game each. Fine, fair enough. But, what you don’t do is mention that our sample size is actually a bit larger than those single games apiece – in the first two games of the preseason, Flynn hasn’t played very well, while Wilson has (against backups, yes, but that is a different argument). If you’re going to argue small sample size you need to look at the whole sample.

    • Hanley H. Bonynge

      You’re right. Ideally, I’d prefer not to use preseason stats at all as I find their predictive abilities very limited. Coaches often try things out and run an offense in a different context than we as fans look at it. I used Wilson’s one preseason start as a (not-so-great) stand-in due to the absence of anything else. In my opinion, regular season starts carry much more weight. In this case, Wilson gets the benefit of the doubt since he has no regular season starts.

    • Hawkman

      Flynn played just fine with who was out there with him. Count in the drops and he had a higher rating than Wilson. It seems alot to me like when a runnuing back tears up the preseason and the for some reason doesn’t even make the team. I do believe RW is going to be avery good QB . But the tell me why he almost overthrew Kelle winslow and he was open by EIGHT yards. He is good but not as accurate as Flynn. And SLAMMING Matt Hasselbeck makes everyone doing that really look like an ASS!

  • Scott Collier

    I guess I’m guilty of being one of the Kool aid drinkers. But the analogy of the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide doesn’t hold very well for the following reason. You really can’t say the play of Russell Wilson is comparable to an invisible flying saucer inside a bright comet millions of miles from Earth. Wilson is for real, has hard stats that we can read, and some pretty impressive video that all of America has seen. He looks no different in Seahawks games than he did in Wisconsin games. He’s nothing short of exactly what Pete Carroll thought he was. Period. If we want to be fair, we should look at the data on Flynn. In two starts last season with a totally different and highly talented Green Bay team, he did well in one game and exceptional in the other. Fast for ward to this pre-season. Where is the Matt Flynn of last year? I haven’t seen it. Maybe it’s because the talent he has now isn’t what he had in Green Bay. Or maybe, as some of his critics have pointed out, that one game against Detroit was more the product of a great team having a great game deep in the year. If we’re looking for consistency of play, Wilson is the one who has been the most consistent. Second team, third team, first team…no difference in his play. Just like he did at Wisconsin. I don’t call it drinking Kool aid to recognize consistency and skill. I call it giving credit where credit is due. And I agree, there is no racism involved with the support of Flynn. It’s completely reasonable to give a 4 year veteran the benefit of the doubt. Flynn hasn’t had a great pre-season but it’s not all his fault. A couple plays here or there could have made a difference in how he’s perceived. I think it’s more his mobility that makes Wilson look like the better QB. I’ve said before Wilson can get out of trouble and make plays where a pure pocket passer will just take the sack. That is mobility. Add in a stronger arm and his advanced learning curve and maturity and the scales start to tip for Wilson. One last thing. One of Flynn’s biggest supporters is John Gruden.

    • Scott Collier

      Opps, meant “one of Wilson’s biggest supporters is John Gruden”.

    • Hanley H. Bonynge

      There is a reason preseason stats don’t count as part of someone’s career. I disagree that Wilson has any “hard stats” in the NFL. He was some preseason stats and college experience. We wouldn’t be this generous to an opposing QB so we shouldn’t use preseason and college stats to bolster the argument for ours. Because there really isn’t that much evidence, people are manufacturing conclusions based on very limited data that are wildly out of proportion. If somebody thinks Wilson should start, that’s fine. But don’t act or argue that there is a lot of hard data to back this up. There just isn’t. This list of great college QBs who failed in the NFL is long. The list of promising preseason QBs who failed in the regular season is long. Chances are, we’ll get to see Wilson in a real game this season and I have no fear that Wilson supporters will be sure to let me know that they told me so. That’s fine. But then we can talk about how good Wilson is. Right now, people are just extrapolating to ridiculous extremes of conclusions.

      They are a way of looking at someone’s ability but don’t necessarily mean much at the end of the day. It’s the same reason teams will go 4-0 in preseason and get crushed in the regular season. Maybe Matt Flynn of last year isn’t there, or maybe Carroll decided to test some other stuff out there is a whole layer of context that we don’t have. We don’t know. That’s the point. I am not sure why you think Wilson is further along any learning curve than Luck or Griffin. If PC starts Wilson, that’s fine, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that our entire, or even majority of an, offense would somehow be available to us. Mobility is great, but it isn’t an offensive scheme.

      The Heaven’s Gate reference was a joke. (Nothing kills a joke, even a bad one, like having to say it’s a joke. Maybe focus less on the comet and more on the extreme beliefs and opinions based on little data. It makes more sense that way.) People are going way over the top with this QB thing and making it personal. I will be happy when Carroll makes the decision, whatever it is, and we can move forward although with the way things are I have a nasty feeling that if he chooses Flynn the 12th Man is going to be fractured and a segment will be waiting and hoping for Flynn to fail, which is very unfortunate.

  • Michael Bernazzani

    I feel good about both. But I’ve been pulling for RW since before the draft because I’m sick of Matt Flynn’s & Matt Hasselbeck’s. We’ve NEVER had a QB even close to being elite, top-5, in-the-playoffs-every-year awesome. While I see Matt Flynn’s ceiling being Matt Hasselbeck, which I would’ve gladly taken had Wilson somehow let me down. But he’s done the opposite. If people are going say there’s a reason he was a 3rd rounder, then they have to remember there’s a reason Flynn was a last rounder. Rodgers sat for 4 years because Favre played EVERY GAME! Not because he wasn’t ready. Flynn sitting behind Rodgers doesn’t make him the next Aaron Rodgers. Why Rodgers is better than Flynn?? ATHLETICISM. Sorry guys but in the next 5 years the immobile pocket passers (Manning) will be phased out of the game with each new draft. What were all the attributes they loved about RG3? Leadership? Arm? Mobility? sounds like RW3 to me. Sorry this is somewhat incoherent, but I feel like people (coughHUGHmillen) are making excuses for Matt Flynn. If RW gets hurt, I’m confident Flynn can win us a couple games like he did in GB. #12thMan #RussellMania

    • Hanley H. Bonynge

      It will be interesting to see if that is where QBs and the NFL go. I think that there will always be a limited number of QBs that fall into that category so that teams will take and start a very good pocket passer over a mediocre mobile QB. Kind of like how everybody would love to have a Shaq on their team, or any dominant true center, but there really just aren’t enough to go around so an entire revolution of the league can’t take off.

  • Mike Liv

    Most QBs do well in the preseason, because the defenses are playing vanilla. When a QB struggles it is not a good sign. Good stats are not a predictor of the regular season, but poor stats usually are. This does not mean a QB or Oline can shake off the rust, but good QBs should play well. Flynn has checked down too quickly and to me that is a sign of him trying not to loose the QB job, if he is that concerned then there must be a reason (he is not out playing Wilson in practice.)