Most coaches welcome a quarterback controversy as they would an infectious disease.
But Pete Carroll is promoting the Seahawks’ 2012 derby with such energy that two contestants weren’t enough. So he tossed in a rookie draft pick to spice up the field.
So we should brace ourselves for months of partisan debate and analysis of trivial details. (Continue reading if your suspense is building over the exact measurement of Russell Wilson’s hands.)
Friday offered early competitive evidence as the Seahawks opened a brief team workout to the media. And while some teams might shield dueling quarterbacks from the microphones and cameras, the Seahawks did the opposite. The only players made available for interview were the two prime quarterback candidates, incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn.
And Carroll, of course, is the ringmaster.
“We’ve done everything we can to make this position as competitive as possible,” Carroll said. “It’s a crucial position on the football team and we’re going to do everything we can to figure that out as we go down the road.”
It gets more interesting next weekend when a minicamp will include the recent third-round draft pick – Wilson of Wisconsin – who was viewed by some as a costly redundancy after the team committed a reported $10 million guaranteed to land Flynn.
A fourth should probably be mentioned in the conversation, since the Seahawks thought enough of the prospects of Josh Portis to keep him on the roster all last season rather than expose him to waivers by placing him on the practice squad.
“We’re going to have to mix and match it,” Carroll said of the division of playing time. “And just make it a real cool process and hopefully it will show itself somewhere down the road and we’ll figure it out then.”
At times in Seahawks’ history, the sorting out of personnel at the quarterback position has been something much less than a real cool process.
It was not always a smooth transition when Dave Krieg overtook Jim Zorn in the early 1980s, nor when Rick Mirer and John Friesz volleyed the job in the mid-90s, nor when Matt Hasselbeck needed a few seasons of Trent Dilfer bailouts before he matured into the job.
Far more disastrous was the early ’90s collection of a declining Krieg, Jeff Kemp, Kelly Stouffer, Dan Mc-Gwire and Stan Gelbaugh, which hit bottom in ’92 when the latter three combined for a season passer rating of 48.9.
Like most NFL teams, the Seahawks have been at their best when the position is held by a single, established leader. Finding out who that is will take some time.
Friday, Jackson took the first snaps and looked completely healed from the pectoral injury that limited him last season. He is strong and fast and has big-time arm strength. Flynn showed his quick release and accuracy, although his delivery looks to have a little elbow-first “push” to it.
The two made collegial comments afterward. “I think we’re trying to push each other and also, when the time comes, I know that we’re going to have to lean on each other,” Flynn said.
Jackson proved his toughness last season, playing through injury, but was chronically unable to lead the team in game-on-the-line situations. It’s what he studied and focused on after the season.
“I could have done a lot better job of not turning the football over … finishing with points and just being more consistent,” he said. “We didn’t have any drives to win the game at the end, and that’s what quarterbacks are supposed to do.”
Flynn, meanwhile, will have to prove that the gaudy numbers he put up as a rare replacement for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay can be sustainable over the length of a season in Seattle.