Seattle Seahawks: Time For a Change at Quarterback?
The Seattle Seahawks find themselves in a position where they must re-evaluate their starting quarterback situation. The problem can be looked at many different ways: long term chances of success, best chance to win now, and the many other factors that contribute to poor QB play (i.e. offensive line protection, wide receiver ability, opposing defenses). Essentially, they are looking at a quality control issue. Since I play a “quality guy” in real life, let’s apply some of those skills to analyzing the Seahawks predicament.
I won’t bore you with all the tables, charts and diagrams, I promise. Why don’t we start by defining the problem: The Seahawks Passing offense is the worst in the NFL. There we said it. Laid it out on the table. So, now we ask why? Well, Russell Wilson is averaging just 148.5 yards per game and a QB rating of 73.5. Why? There will be several answers here:
1. Wilson is a rookie. This is a legitimate defense of his performance. He, at times, makes bad reads or determines where he is going to throw before the snap and abandons his progressions. He looks the part of a rookie signal caller, and there will be growing pains. The question here is a speculative one: Is the long term potential for improvement worth the risk to Wilson’s health and confidence by continuing to play him now. I do not know Russell Wilson. I do not have the benefit of seeing him in practice or talking to him on the sideline during a game. Is he the type of guy that will persevere or would he profit from sitting back and learning through practice and observation?
2. Pete Carroll has said he put a “lid” on the passing game so far in 2012. This answer goes a long way to explaining why the Seahawks passing game is last in attempts and yards. But it brings up other whys? Why did he feel the need to do so? Would the same be true if Matt Flynn was the starter?
3. Pass protection. As a team, Seattle has only given up 8 sacks in four games, but QB pressures feel more frequent. Also, consider that they have only attempted 100 passes. That’s one sack every 12.5 attempts. Compare that to Ben Roethlisberger, historically one of the most sacked QBs, who is getting taken down once every 13.3 attempts. Seattle will need to address protections no matter who the starting QB is.
4. The ability of the opposing defenses. The Seahawks have faced the Cardinals, Cowboys, Packers and Rams. All four defenses have been good at creating pressure on the opposing QB. And all boast at least one big name player in the secondary. While this factor can be hard to quantify, it has to be considered.
5. The supporting cast. The question is have the players around Wilson helped or hindered his ability to win games? Marshawn Lynch is the only real offensive threat and is a definite advantage to any starting QB. Other than that, Seattle does not have much. WR Sidney Rice still looks out of place in Seattle and would probably be a number two option on most teams. Braylon Edwards has a career worth of under achievement. Zach Miller is a good option at TE, but doesn’t really threaten a defense. And Golden Tate is still developing. Then you are left with a hard question to answer: Are these players completely behind Wilson or would they give a little more if Flynn were starting? In a perfect world, this would not be an issue, but it is a reality in the NFL.
The next issue that Pete Carroll must address is long term success versus winning now. Professional football is a fickle business. Fans and owners want to win now and coaches have a difficult time sustaining their careers. Will Wilson develop into the next Drew Brees? Is the Potential there? Obviously, Wilson is not the answer for winning now, but what are the chances he can become the franchise’s leader for the next ten years? The Seahawks must have thought Matt Flynn could win games for them or they wouldn’t have fattened his wallet this offseason. Does he give the team a better chance at success in 2012? Does he have more long term upside than Wilson? Unfortunately, I am in no position to answer these questions.
My personal opinion is that you go with your gut here and let Wilson grow up on the field. Once the decision was made to start him this year, benching him now will probably do more harm than good. Matt Flynn might win you more games this year, but his future is as unknown as Wilson’s.