One thing that probably has not been talked about enough regarding the Seattle Seahawks’ three-way quarterback competition is the involvement of the team’s suffocating defense.
And that was very evident today with Matt Flynn back working with the first unit. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll had the offense working in the red zone today, and all three quarterbacks really struggled to get their units into the end zone.
That’s not a surprise when you consider the type of length Seattle’s defense can run out there, with 6-4 Brandon Browner and 6-3 Richard Sherman on the corners, 6-3 Kam Chancellor at safety, 6-4 K.J. Wright at linebacker, 6-5 defensive lineman J.J. Jones and 6-6 defensive tackle Alan Branch eating up space and raising his long arms up the middle.
Flynn, Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson had to throw through some tight windows in a compacted amount of space, so there were a lot of deflections and tips, a couple interceptions, a few drops and a lot of balls being thrown away.
“It’s not easy for them at all,” Carroll said. “We’re not making it easy on the quarterbacks – we’re making it as hard as we can for them. And so I think if they can move the ball on us and make plays on us, that’s a good sign.
“I talked to the defense today, and told them to dial up and make it as hard as we can make it on those guys for just those very reasons, for comparisons and getting some good information. So we’re going to continue to do that, and continue to make it hard. … We’re going to stress them as much as possible.”
I think the drill also placed an emphasis on one of Flynn’s weaknesses – arm strength. In the red zone a quarterback with superior arm strength has an advantage because they can gun a pass into a tight window, and Flynn struggled at times with that today.
Flynn threw an interception on a pass intended for Ben Obomanu where cornerback Brandon Browner jumped the route and grabbed it for a turnover. Flynn also had another pass intended for Charly Martin on a slant route tipped by K.J. Wright and intercepted by Browner.
During team drills in the middle of the field, Flynn also missed a wide open Zach Miller on a play-action pass down the seam that was knocked down by Wright, who was beaten badly and chasing the play. Flynn needed to throw a balloon instead of a dart.
But Flynn didn’t have a lot of help either, as the receiving group probably had its worst day of training camp. Tate uncharacteristically dropped a TD on a slant route on a Flynn offering. And Ricardo Lockette also dropped a touchdown on a slant route from Flynn.
Lockette also showed a lack of maturity when he failed to hold onto a ball on a go route thrown by Wilson against cornerback Jeremy Lane, slamming his helmet to the ground with the ear pads popping out.
Overall, as a group the receivers struggled to win one-on-one matchups today, which had been a concern of the team heading into the season with such a young group and Sidney Rice not fully healthy.
However, Flynn had his moments. He did a nice job of looking off the defense and firing a bullet to Deon Butler down the middle of the field in a tight window for a nice gain.
And Flynn’s best play of the day was when he showed good pocket awareness by scrambling to his right to avoid pressure from Red Bryant, and then connecting with Tate on a comeback route down the sideline.
Carroll said he plans to continue to rotate all three quarterbacks with the first unit for the foreseeable future.
“We’re still on it,” Carroll said. “This is the fifth day of practice. There’s not much reason to alter anything we’re doing right now. We’re jus going to keep getting reps and gathering information.”
— Wilson worked mostly with the second unit, and really showed off his improvisational skills in the red zone today. On one play, he got outside the pocket moving to his left, faked a pass outside to Kellen Winslow and flicked a dart to rookie Lavasier Tuinei.
— Browner had by far his best day today, finishing with two interceptions and two pass deflections. Said Carroll about the knock-kneed Browner: “Not only does he have this length, but he’s got savvy that makes him special. He knows how to play the spot. He understands all of what is going on. He anticipates and sees things kind of before they happen, and that gives him a chance to be special if he can just hold up physically.
“I mean you look at those legs and that body, and there’s like no way you could ever say that you could do it. I mean it’s a sad sight now. You wonder if they’re arms – it’s that bad.”
— With Matt McCoy and Barrett Ruud still nursing knee injuries, special teams standout Heath Farwell has been running at middle linebacker with the second unit, and he’s done a solid job in the run game.
— Jackson worked with the third unit and took the least amount of reps of the three quarterbacks in the competition. But he got some work in after practice, throwing routes with Winslow, Lockette and Jermaine Kearse, along with Josh Portis and Wilson. Joked Jackson about the limited reps: “My arm’s not going to get tired out here, I’ll tell you that.”
— WR Jermaine Kearse came off the PUP list and practiced today, and defensive end Jason Jones returned to practice after sitting out two days with a knee issue.
— LB Matt McCoy, LB Jameson Konz, CB Walter Thurmond, OL James Carpenter, TE Anthony McCoy and CB Ron Parker did not practice today.
— Max Unger has really come a long way since his rookie season. In his first year defensive tackle Brandon Mebane owned Unger in one-on-one pass rush, but now the University of Oregon product can hold his own against one of the better nose tackles in the league.
— On the flip side, right guard John Moffitt struggled to contain Red Bryant.