It hadn’t even occurred to me to think what people would be saying about the quarterbacks after Seattle's loss last weekend to the Rams in St. Louis. In hindsight I was way off base, and admittedly I should have seen all of this coming. Let us gather the children now and go over the facts:
- Matt Flynn will collect $2 million dollars in salary this year on top of the $6 million he collected when signing his deal.
- Russell Wilson was taken in the third round.
- Russell Wilson is short.
- Defeat was sealed versus the Rams on an interception thrown by Russell Wilson, he also threw two other interceptions in that game.
- The Seahawks passing game is dead last in the league when looking at yardage totals.
All of those are facts; there is literally no doubt about them. I know because I looked them all up on Wikipedia, and that shit never lies. The beauty of all that is the truth in it. Simplistic as it may be, there is comfort in the knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that things are true. People are not always so comfortable separating themselves from things that are easy to assess and moving on to what driving forces might lie beneath the surface, and that’s how you get the quarterbacking controversy we’ve got today.
Football is a game of angles, speed and inches though. There is rarely ever true "fact" due to the level of variability in every play, and the volume of plays in each game. Each moment has it’s own impact on the game and deciding which moment is most important in determining the outcome is practically impossible.
As that is the case I’m going to take a moment to remind everyone why those facts have little bearing on the situation at quarterback for our hometown team. One by one, I’m going to calm down every rabble rouser out there!
"Matt Flynn’s salary is like 8 million times more than Wilson though!"
Flynn’s contract is pretty miniscule for a starter, and to suggest that pay scales should dictate playing time would drive any football coach batshit crazy. Look around the league and you’ll see that Flynn’s contract is really only slightly above average for a backup, and it’s only as high as it is because the Hawks didn’t really have a choice but to bring him in (they weren't guaranteed to get a QB in the Draft).
Think about this for a second, if Wilson had been on the roster going into free agency do you think they still give him fair market value to come to Seattle? I doubt that, and while that is a point one could argue against you’d certainly have to admit that they would have thought twice. Wilson is a guy this front office coveted going into the draft, and regardless of whether or not they saw him starting year one, they surely pictured him working into that role by year two.
Two separate teams let Matt Flynn walk out of their facilities and leave town before he signed here, so stop hanging on to all those news stories you read following his explosion against Detroit last year.
"I told you so! Third round quarterbacks never succeed as rookies"
Discussing Wilson’s draft stock is meaningless on the football field, so avoid bringing it up from this point on, people. Once a guy is on the roster, he is just that. "A guy on the roster." Pete Carroll has always made it clear to the media and fans that he makes his decisions on the field, not in an office with spreadsheets. Asking yourself where or how a player was acquired is far from his style in terms of dictating play time.
While his draft value back in April speaks to some of his perceived shortcomings it has no bearing on future success and does not speak to whether or not he’ll overcome them.
"Russell is too short! He can’t see anything!"
His height does seem to be affecting his play. He has looked ruffled at times so far this year and is having trouble finding guys in certain spots. The degree to which this is an issue is debatable though, and I’m not worried anyways.
His height is no different from any deficiency that any other player might have. A weak arm, lack of commitment, injury issues... the list goes on forever. There are a plethora of things that slow and eventually kill the careers of young players that once looked poised to succeed. No one ever knew four games in that a guy's career would be over because of any of the other issues, and I don’t see height any differently.
I didn’t expect Wilson to gain a Drew Brees-like understanding of finding throwing lanes from within the pocket in four games. As long as he shows some level of improvement, I’ll patiently wait for the jury to return with a verdict.
"Three interceptions in a game?!? No way we can win like that!"
Blame for the interception that ended the game last Sunday has been a hotly contested topic. I heard one ex-quarterback point out that it was surely Wilson's fault the ball was picked, because he should not have thrown it to TE Anthony McCoy on the play in the first place; that Doug Baldwin was open and would have easily gotten more yards anyways. Another *more successful* quarterback felt the read was correct and that McCoy could have made it out of bounds.
No matter which way you look at the play that ended the game, the fact that he threw them doesn’t mean as much as the how and why. The second pick he threw, where he had the ball tipped from behind, was on him as far as I can tell. He seemed to stand tall a little too long, which is funny because previously everyone had been talking about how often he left the pocket too early for their tastes.
The first was a ball that should have been caught by Dough Baldwin. You can point to the throws location and bring up how difficult it can be to catch a pass thrown behind you but I promise you if you were given the chance to ask Doug he’d tell you that was all on him there.
Three picks, all of which impacted the game, none of which seem likely to be repeated often enough to be a serious issue. Russell has made generally good decisions up to this point in the season, especially for a rookie.
"This passing game is gross, last in the league… Everyone else is setting records"
Putting Matt Flynn in as the starter might bump the Seahawks' offense up a bit, I guess, but you’ve got to understand that the Seahawks are meant to have low totals in the passing game. Lost in this statistic is that they also have the fewest passing attempts and that is by design.
I will say, however, in regards to the gameplan, I would love to see some more passing on early downs. Run, run, pass seems great considering the "run, run" part has been so helpful up to this point, but I feel like it has a drawback in that it puts more pressure on a quarterback to make good on third down.
In short, yeah the passing game is bad; but it’s not as bad as it looks on paper.
I don’t think Wilson has played great and he undoubtedly needs to be better on those third downs; he’s made some mistakes (most of which have been extensively discussed on the interwebs and talk radio stations), and missed his share of opportunities to convert. But looking at it objectively, he's passing for 60%, has mixed some bad throws with some very good throws (play-action to Golden Tate vs GB, TD Pass to McCoy vs Dallas, 22-yard strike to Sidney Rice vs. ARI, etc) and is about where you'd expect a rookie to be on the learning curve. It's only a matter of philosophy whether you'd prefer to go with a possibly higher floor veteran with a lower ceiling over a higher-ceiling rookie with a likely lower floor at this point.
Putting Flynn in seems like a good idea in part because he is that grass on the other side of the fence. In football though the fence is tall and very difficult to see through, so don’t be so sure that the grass is as green as it looks.
My name is Luke. Follow me on twitter @MyHawkSoFly, satisfaction is guaranteed.