BobbyK requested an analysis of the three Seahawks quarterbacks at this point. I live to serve.
Interesting to note how quickly everybody is to discard Josh Portis, a strong-armed, elusive prospect they liked well enough that they kept him on the roster rather than risk exposing him to waivers on the practice squad last season.
But so be it. We’ve been able to see the three prime contenders – Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson – in certain OTAs and minicamps. But that’s only been a fraction of their practices so it’s not a complete sample. And nothing has been “live.”
I’ve never seen an NFL situation in which three quarterbacks shared the snaps in such equal proportions. This process enhances fairness, but, if extended, reduces the prep time for the guy who is going to end up on the field when it counts. It’s early, but there will be a tipping point where this becomes costly.
Bobby’s question sought an opinion on the leader for the starting job at this point. My opinion only: Flynn. And I’d say that Jackson’s status second-third-gone will depend on the quickness of Wilson’s maturation.
Jackson first. There are times in practice when Jackson fires a pass and you immediately recognize it as the ball-flight of a legit NFL starter. Going on ballistics – muzzle velocity, if you will – Jackson so often looks big-time. He’s among the toughest guys on the team, took over without benefit of an off-season program last season and was still voted team captain after only a couple weeks in town. At times, though, you wonder where he’s throwing. His timing is sometimes questionable, firing a pass to a receiver who had been open but is covered once the ball arrives. And as much respect that he earned from the staff and teammates last season, he still failed in crucial moments of games. He acknowledged this and said he’s devoted himself to correcting weaknesses in half- and game-ending situations. The problem is that he can’t really show that in something short of real games, making it hard for him to earn that confidence in practices and preseason.
Flynn: I don’t care for his throwing motion. He has a bit of an elbow-first push to it. At first look, it makes him seem a bit unimposing as a passer. Many great quarterbacks have flourished with unique styles, though. Whereas Jackson has the look of a thoroughbred athlete, Flynn is less impressive on the hoof. The difference is in efficiency. Flynn identifies his target, anticipates the opening, and gets the ball into the receiver’s catching-window with great regularity. His timing and accuracy make him look like a quarterback who can move the sticks, and be a very nice fit in the Hawks’ run-balanced offense.
Wilson will be a wild card. He has looked very mature in practices, and is obviously a quick study. He seems to have a rare competitive confidence that might border on the kind of audacity that has pushed some quarterbacks to elite status. At 5-10, of course, he needs that. We’ve seen enough of him to get the feel that he can throw every pass he’ll ever need in the NFL. I’ve been impressed with his ability to break out and find a secondary receiver and get him the ball … several times buying second-chances with quick feet and finding a receiver at the sideline with a perfect fastball. Again, his real value and readiness for play in this league can’t be realized until he’s in live action.
The situation is an obvious upgrade. If it’s Jackson who wins the start, it will be because he beat out two other candidates and was not just named the starter, as was the case last season, because the only other choice was incumbent Charlie Whitehurst. If Flynn proves an upgrade over Jackson, then that will mean a better balance with a rushing attack that was one of the best in the NFL over the second half of last season. And paired with a top-10 defense that returns 10 starters, that’s a promising situation. If Wilson can come in and earn the starting job as a rookie over a pair of veterans, he will have to show the kind of potential that would make him a steal as a third-round draft pick.