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Originally published August 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Page modified August 25, 2012 at 11:04 PM

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Wilson has been amazing but Flynn still best bet at QB

It is risky business starting a season this promising with a rookie quarterback.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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That was no rookie hustling his team to the line of scrimmage, quick-snapping the ball, catching the Kansas City defense asleep and throwing a touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow.

That was no kid quarterback, going vertical, completing down-the-field passes to veterans Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens.

Despite coach Pete Carroll's remarks to the contrary, on the road, on Friday night, under the rules of competition established this summer, Russell Wilson has won the Seahawks' quarterback derby.

If this camp was completely a show-me camp. If all three quarterbacks — Wilson, Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson — were given equal chances to win the job, Wilson should get it.

He has lived up to almost all of Carroll's exclamation points, turning sacks into scrambles into 30-yard gains.

It's not uncommon to see rookie quarterbacks, faced with furious pass rushes, pull the ball down and run. Most of the time, their runs are premature, immature. They don't recognize the defense. They can't find their receivers. Their runs are like surrenders.

But Wilson runs with a purpose. Runs like a tailback, breaking tackles, outsprinting safeties, dodging defensive ends. He isn't quite as good as Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III, but Wilson has three of his team's four longest runs through the first three exhibition games.

Wilson read the Chiefs' defenses like a scholar. And he commanded the Seahawks' huddle like a four-star general.

His quarterback rating of 134.8 wasn't just good for a rookie. It was good for Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning and Tom Brady. In his first game with the first string, he was 13 for 19 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

In his three games, Wilson has thrown for five touchdowns and run for another. The Hawks have scored on 12 of their 18 possessions with Wilson at quarterback.

And, in the earn-everything world of Pete Carroll, where every day is a competition and every job is open until someone emphatically shuts the door, the noise we heard from Kansas City was Russell Wilson shutting the door. What more can he do?

But here's the problem with this competition:

There is a world of difference between Kansas City in August and San Francisco in October. The Chiefs didn't game plan for Wilson. Arrowhead Stadium, which in season is as loud as any place in the country, was tranquil. This wasn't a regular-season atmosphere.

It is risky business starting a season this promising with a rookie quarterback.

As the season begins, teams will have tape on Wilson. They will have a spy watching him (Kansas City didn't) whose job it will be to snuff Wilson's runs. Defenses will be better prepared for Wilson than they have been in these three practice games.

And, I believe, this competition should have started in July, or back in the OTAs of spring.

I believe Flynn has been competing for this job for four years and that should be taken into consideration. He's been competing for it since he beat out Brian Brohm for the backup position in Green Bay.

Ask yourself which is more impressive: Wilson's three exhibition games or Flynn's two NFL starts where he threw for 731 total yards and nine touchdowns?

And which games were more relevant, Wilson's three games in August, or Flynn's regular-season starts against New England and Detroit?

Flynn doesn't have the wow factor that Wilson has. But he excels at the subtleties of the game. And I think ultimately, as good as Wilson has been this month, the Seahawks would win more games with Flynn than Wilson.

We still don't know all of the parameters of this competition. How much stock Carroll and his staff place on practice performance? If they take into consideration the fact Wilson hasn't faced adversity?

Wilson has done everything asked of him. His work ethic is unquestioned. His study habits are the equal of PhDs. He has been prepared. He has been fascinating to watch.

But I still believe the Seahawks would win more games with Flynn at quarterback. And more emphasis should have been placed on Flynn's body of work.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or

Preseason stats
How Russell Wilson has done in the Seahawks' first three exhibition games.
Game Passing TD Int
Tennessee 12-16, 124 yds 1 1
at Denver 10-17, 155 yds 2 0
at KC 13-19, 185 yds 2 0
Total 35-52, 464 yds 5 1

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation. | 206-464-2176


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