Photo Credit: John Rieger/US Presswire
Russell Wilson took the city by storm last Friday night in Kansas City, and in doing so also stole the competition right out of Matt Flynn’s hands. Wilson put up stellar numbers including almost 200 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air and another 58 yards on the ground against a Kansas City defense that ranked 12th in the league last year. Ultimately, Wilson’s play the first three weeks of preseason forced Pete Carroll’s hand. Even when he was up against 2nd and 3rd string players, Wilson looked like he was playing to win the starting job while Flynn looked like he was simply trying not to lose it. The only way for Carroll to stay true to his “comPETE” mantra was to name Russell Wilson the starter, and that’s exactly what he did early Sunday evening.
The main reasoning for starting Flynn over Wilson in most people’s minds was purely experience. Flynn has been in the league for four years and learned behind one of the league’s best in Aaron Rodgers, right? Well, unfortunately sitting behind the best means not playing. Flynn has done a whole lot of sitting and not a ton of playing even going back to his college days at LSU. In the nine years he’s been out of high school, Flynn has been the starting QB exactly one year. Granted he sat behind Jamarcus Russell, an eventual number one overall pick for three years in Baton Rouge, but still, the game experience is definitely lacking. Russell Wilson on the other hand won the starting job at North Carolina State his redshirt freshman year despite being only a two star prospect. Wilson was the starter for three years in Raleigh before spending a year in minor league baseball as a prospect in the Colorado Rockies organization then transferring schools to Wisconsin to play out his one remaining year of eligibility. While Flynn has been sitting and watching other great players play on the field, Wilson has been the great player on the field making plays and learning by doing.
Wilson has also shown a great deal of leadership everywhere he has been. He was a team captain his junior season at NC State, then when he went to Wisconsin, his teammates voted him captain just three weeks into fall camp. Reports are that Wilson has already won over the locker room in Seattle as well. After Friday’s game Golden Tate chimed in with his thoughts on the new starting QB, “You get a feeling that he’s just very, very special. You don’t know what it is, but you get that feeling. You get excited to see him get on the field, because you never know if he’s going to throw a perfect touchdown pass or juke a safety to extend the drive. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s just good to have a guy who seems comfortable sitting back there. He’s just a very, very special player, and I’m excited to see him grow.” Tate seems to be describing what many have called the “IT” factor. It’s not a stat, it’s not a measurable, you either have it or you don’t, and Russell Wilson has it.
John Gruden said it best on draft day, “If I were Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson, I’d be leery of this kid because, if you give him a chance…If you give this kid a legitimate chance to win the job…he’ll win it.”