RENTON — Matt Flynn has not been named the Seahawks’ starting quarterback, but he will start a second consecutive exhibition game when Seattle plays at Denver on Saturday.
Russell Wilson will play the second half of that game, which reflects the current pecking order between the team’s two offseason quarterback acquisitions.
Then there’s incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, who did not play in the exhibition opener, may not play this week in Denver and yet remains in the competition to start this year, according to coach Pete Carroll.
Got all that? Because that’s as close as we’ve come to clarity in this three-headed competition to determine Seattle’s starting quarterback this season.
“The emphasis right now is to get Matt and Russell their play time again,” Carroll said. “So we can really get another big body of knowledge of information for them.”
Jackson worked with the first-unit offense Tuesday just as he did last week. Flynn will work with the starting offense beginning Wednesday, just as he did last week, so he’s the starter as Seattle installs its game plan. Wilson will work with the backups just as he did a week ago.
Carroll said he considered starting Wilson at Denver to give the rookie the same kind of opportunity Flynn got a week ago against Tennessee. Flynn getting another start shows how the coaches have evaluated the pair so far.
“Matt has done a really good job of commanding all of this stuff,” Carroll said. “He understands the game in great depth, he gives us a veteran presence, even though he hasn’t had a lot of starting time. He recognizes the defense ... It’s still a challenge for Russell to catch up with that stuff. He’s battling to get that done, and there’s a difference right now.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean Flynn is being penciled in as the starter because Jackson is still in the competition, said Carroll.
“Absolutely he is,” Carroll said. “Really, this is just the way I’ve chosen to do it; I’m banking on the 18 games we’ve seen him.”
Jackson is the bird in the hand, so to speak. He played four exhibition games for Seattle last year, went 7-7 as a starter in the regular season and has six years of experience playing for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell — first in Minnesota and then last year with the Seahawks.
And while Jackson worked with the first-unit offense for Tuesday’s practice, he’ll now take a back seat for the rest of the week, which isn’t necessarily easy.
“This is very difficult for him,” Carroll said. “I admire the heck out of this guy. This isn’t the way he’d like to battle for his job. These guys are battling to show what they know and where they are, and we have to assess that if they can catch up with him.”
Ultimately, the question isn’t just who the starting quarterback is going to be, but who will be the backup as well. And as much as the Seahawks are assessing Flynn’s readiness to be the starter, they are also seeing if Wilson might be able to be the backup as a rookie. If that happens, it’s unlikely Jackson would remain with the team as the third-string quarterback making the $4 million he’s scheduled to earn.
Is there an answer coming any time soon? The third exhibition game is generally as close as the NFL comes to a dress rehearsal. Could the Seahawks reach a decision on the quarterback competition next week before they play at Kansas City?
“We may,” Carroll said. “We’ll find out.”