RENTON, Wash. — Every day since the start of training camp, either Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson or Tarvaris Jackson have cycled to the podium in front of a Seahawks backdrop and been asked to handicap the three-way race to be the starting quarterback in Seattle.
And each day one of the trio stand before the bank of microphones and say the right things about enjoying being a part of the competition and doing their best to try and impress head coach Pete Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks staff.
Realistically, the competition will need to start getting pared down soon. Seattle has completed one week of training camp with no clear-cut favorite in the competition between the incumbent (Jackson), the high-priced newcomer (Flynn) and the upstart rookie (Wilson).
Some type of resolution — whether it’s naming a starter or just dropping one from the competition — most likely won’t come until after the first or second preseason games. But an indication of where Seattle may be leaning, or who is stepping out ahead could start coming into focus on Sunday when the Seahawks hold a mock game in preparation for their preseason opener next Saturday against Tennessee.
With no timeline and lack of clarity from Carroll, every move, every snap the three take in practice is open to interpretation. Was it telling that Wilson got seven fewer snaps than Jackson on Saturday? Or was it more important that Flynn took significantly more snaps during 7-on-7 than the other two?
Even the slightest phrase uttered can be analyzed as a possible signal. When Flynn was asked Saturday if he was tired of being asked about the competition, his reply started with “I’m not looking a couple of weeks ahead right now.”
Does that mean the Seahawks are still two weeks away from a decision? Or do they already know and are waiting a bit longer before making that proclamation public?
It’s enough to make an analyst go batty. But the trio seem to understand it’s part of being an NFL quarterback.
“It’s definitely the nature of the position but obviously this is for a starting spot in the NFL so it’s going to get more attention and you see that all over the NFL,” Flynn said. “Just have to take it step by step.”
For most of a decade who would be the Seattle quarterback was never in doubt. From 2003 to 2010, Matt Hasselbeck was the quarterback of the Seahawks and mostly without contention. He took the Seahawks to their lone Super Bowl appearance and six total playoff appearances.
When the Seahawks moved on from Hasselbeck before the start of last season, they chose Jackson as his initial replacement because of his knowledge of the system offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell runs from their time together in Minnesota. And while Jackson won over his teammates by playing through a painful pectoral injury, he didn’t do anything to wow coaches or fans.
Therefore, the Seahawks made the decision this offseason to sign Flynn, draft Wilson and create one odd circumstance for training camp.
“I think we’re kind of breaking new ground. It’s something I’ve never done before. For however many years I’ve been in the league it’s something I haven’t done before. We’re just trying to do the best we can divvying it up,” Bevell said. “We have a plan every day coming out here of exactly how we want it to go. Where it can change a little bit is during some of these, ‘move-the-ball’ periods. If you move your offense, if you go a 10-play drive you get 10 plays, if you go three-and-out you got three plays and we change groups. They can get off there a little bit. For the most part we have a plan when we come out here.”
For the most part, the number or reps each quarterback has received during the team periods has followed a similar pattern to which is working with the No. 1 offense. On Saturday, Jackson got the most reps and was working with the starters. On Friday, it was Wilson and on Thursday it was Flynn getting the most.
All three are accepting the circumstance for now, even if their fate has become the trigger for so much debate.
“Obviously, we get out there and play hard. But we treat every day like its game day in our mind. That’s the way we have to compete,” Wilson said. “To win this league, to be successful in this league, to win just a game. You have to compete every single time you step out on the practice field so it makes it fun that way.”