Pete Carroll seeks out players who unique qualities, and the Seahawks’ third-year coach has definitely found one in Russell Wilson.
The rookie quarterback will start the regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona, as well as Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field, Carroll announced Sunday night.
The ascension of the team’s third-round draft choice began during the pre-draft evaluation process and only accelerated as Wilson made his way through the rookie minicamp in May, the full-squad minicamp in June, the training camp practices this summer and especially once the preseason began.
“It’s been a very exciting competition that’s gone on, and Russell has taken full advantage of his opportunities and done everything we could ask for on the field,” Carroll said during a conference-call interview with reporters who cover the team.
“And more you guys can know, what he’s done off the field in meeting rooms and with our players and how he’s represented himself, he’s earned this job.”
Matt Flynn, who was signed in free agency to compete for the starting job, will be the backup. The club is in the process of trading incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson to the Buffalo Bills, Carroll confirmed.
So the Man of the Hour, and the summer, is Wilson.
He made his first NFL start Friday night against the Chiefs in Kansas City and directed scoring drives on the Seahawks’ first six possessions in the 44-14 victory. In the two previous games, Wilson played in the second half – in relief of Flynn – and produced five touchdown drives and a drive to a field goal in 11 possessions.
The numbers in the three-man competition for the starting job added up to 3 – Wilson’s uniform number.
How did he take the news? In stride, as Carroll characterized it, which is very much in character for Wilson.
“He was excited. He said he was excited about that, and that it’s exciting,” Carroll said, “And absolutely in stride. I don’t think it’s going to bother him a bit. In time as you guys (reports) are around him more and you watch him more, you’ll come to appreciate the uniqueness of Russell and his approach.
“He expects to be good. And he expects to be successful. And he expects to make plays. And he expects all of that, so true to his soul. That’s just the way he is and thinks. Nothing else even kind of enters in his mind. He came to win this job. … He just went about it to go get it. He has worked extremely hard to put himself in this position and we all admired that he understood how to do that.”
Wilson tweeted this response: “I'm thrilled to get this opportunity thanks to @petecarroll, my @Seahawks teammates and the #12thman Matt 6:33.”
Flynn also came in wanting to win the job after serving as Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay the past four seasons. So how did he take the news?
“He’s disappointed,” Carroll said. “Matt came here to be a starter. He took it exactly the way I would think a great competitor would. He still wants it. And that’s going to help us. And it’s going help him, too. He will not back down from this challenge and when his opportunities come up – which hopefully he’ll play (Thursday night) – he’ll continue to demonstrate what he’s all about.
“I’m disappointed for him, too, because I know how much he wants this.”
Flynn could only stand and watch on Friday night as Wilson continued to flaunt his uniqueness. Flynn could not play against the Chiefs because of what Carroll said is an inflamed muscle in his throwing elbow. So rather than having Flynn takeover for Wilson in the third quarter, Wilson took another step toward winning the starting job by leading another TD drive – his eight of the preseason.
Wilson completed 13 of 19 passes for 185 yards and two TDs against the Chiefs, for a passer rating of 134.8. He also ran for 58 yards on two carries. In the first two games, he had completed 22 of 33 passes for 279 yards, with three TDs and an interception, for a 110.5 passer rating, and also run eight times for 92 yards and a score.
In starting the first two games, Flynn completed 17 of 26 passes for 102 yards. But in 10 series, he generated four field goals and the offense did not score a touchdown.
The numbers simply added up Wilson being the starter.
“Knowing we had two great kids, it came down to them battling it out,” Carroll said. “And with the information we have, this is the way we’re going.”