Third-round rookies aren’t starting NFL quarterbacks.
They just aren’t. Hell, rookies in general rarely get the nod to be the starter — this will be the first season since 1970 that more than two rookie NFL quarterbacks will start opening day — much less players selected on day two or three.
There are too many variables. There is too sharp a learning curve. Disguised coverages and line checks. Faster defenses and split-second audibles. Rookies can’t adjust fast enough to start in the NFL.
Tell that to Pete Carroll.
Pete took probably the biggest gamble since arriving in Seattle, by throwing Russell Wilson into the fire and having him start week 3 of the preseason against Kansas City. When everyone told him that this isn’t the way you prepare an offense for a football season, that conventional wisdom says you need the veteran QB everybody assumed was going to be the starter to take the first half snaps, he charged ahead with Wilson anyway. The rookie dazzled the nay-sayers — myself included — by leading six Seahawks scoring drives in seven opportunities, throwing for 185 yards and two touchdowns, and adding 58 yards to his offensive numbers with two long runs.
So much for conventional.
But then, Carroll’s tenure as head coach in Seattle has been anything but conventional. Most new head coaches approach the quarterback position as their number one priority. Pete instead built a stinging defense first; a defense that allowed only seven points to the Chiefs starters, most of which played well into the third quarter of Friday’s game. He brought in stop-gap guys to run his offense, like Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson. Carroll was clear from the start that his first focus was on the defensive side of the ball, and his next focus was a smashmouth running game.
Check, and check.
When Seattle selected Russell Wilson in the third round, nobody was talking about him starting this year, or even in the next couple. He was touted as a guy who could hold a clipboard, and eventually develop into a potential starter. Many experts pointed to lack of size size as a reason why the Wisconsin alum would never be a legitimate starter in the league. I would say that Wilson is taking steps every day to prove all of those pundits wrong. Turns out Pete may have known what he was doing all along.
There’s no going back from this. Elbow pain nonwithstanding, Matt Flynn just got outplayed for his job. There is no feasible way Carroll and Company can turn around and hand the offense back over to Flynn. Russell Wilson has answered every question, cleared every bar, and Friday night, put a huge exclaimation point on what’s been as productive a preseason as he could have possibly had. For whatever reason, this offense moves better with number three under center. He reacts well to pressure, though he still may be too eager to take off from the pocket. His quick release gets the ball into tight windows with speed that can counteract the adjustment from the college to pro level. And he seems to just have that … moxy. The unphased, seldom rattled, even-keeled demeanor that usually takes years in the NFL to develop.
So what now? Pete threw Russell Wilson out there to see if he could be a starter for the Seahawks. And he came out and proved that he can. In a city that already has King Felix, new royalty has been crowned on the football field, at least for this week. Is there any other way to see it other than Russell Wilson starting game one in Arizona? Conventional wisdom would say there’s no chance.
Because Pete Carroll is nothing but conventional.