SEATTLE — A day that began with some prominent subtractions from Seattle’s roster ended with a definitive statement: Rookie Russell Wilson will start the season at quarterback.
“He’s earned this job,” coach Pete Carroll said in a teleconference with reporters.
And with that, the rest of a busy Seahawks Sunday was rendered a footnote.
Releasing veteran receiver Terrell Owens after three weeks? Not all that shocking, considering he dropped as many passes as he caught (two) in his two exhibition games. The pending trade of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to Buffalo? The writing was on the wall regarding his lack of a future in Seattle for weeks.
Wilson is who everyone is going to be talking about in Seattle this week as Carroll made official what became fairly obvious: Wilson’s performance this month earned him the starting job ahead of Matt Flynn.
“It was a legitimate competition as we said from the beginning,” Carroll said of Wilson. “With the opportunity he’s taken advantage of, he deserves to start.”
Wilson will start Thursday’s exhibition finale against Oakland, and the season opener at Arizona on Sept. 9. The quarterback competition that began in May is over for now, and while Wilson won the job, Carroll took great pains to point out that Flynn did not lose it after the Seahawks signed him in the offseason from Green Bay.
“Matt Flynn has done a great job for us in every way,” Carroll said. “The opportunities just didn’t seem to come in as big a way as it did for Russell.”
There was also the matter of last week’s elbow injury, which couldn’t have come at a worse time for Flynn. He couldn’t practice Wednesday and wasn’t able to play in Friday’s game when Carroll planned for him to enter in the third quarter and get at least one series with the rest of Seattle’s starters in Kansas City.
Carroll said that Flynn’s injury is an inflamed muscle, and while it’s not serious, he wasn’t able to throw Sunday.
With Flynn out Friday, Wilson turned in his most impressive performance of the exhibition season, which is saying something. He passed for 185 yards and two touchdowns and led Seattle on six scoring drives. He has thrown five touchdown passes and been intercepted once. The team has six runs of 20 or more yards, and Wilson has four of them. His quarterback rating of 119.4 leads the NFL.
“Everything about what he has done has been impressive,” Carroll said.
“You would think there would be those times where it all added up on him or he wouldn’t be able to get out of it.”
Seattle signed Flynn with the hope he would become the starter, but not the promise. He was brought in to compete with Jackson, and then Wilson was added to the mix after Seattle picked him No. 75 overall, the earliest pick the team had used on a quarterback since Rick Mirer in 1993.
“I just think he’s proven to us that he’s very, very capable,” Carroll said. “I think the big label that we put on this is being diminished some. Times have changed, and if we don’t acknowledge that, we’re just putting our head in the sand.”