The first person to reach Russell Wilson on the field after the final play in Sunday’s game might surprise you.
It was Matt Flynn.
You know, the guy most people expected to begin the season as Seattle’s starting quarterback. The guy who got to play in all of three games this season, all blowouts. His most noteworthy moment was a fourth-down pass that he threw (perfectly it should be noted) into the end zone against Arizona only to have Jermaine Kearse fail to grab it and in the process, spawning a mini-debate about whether Seattle was running up the score.
Flynn’s relationship with Wilson was something I wondered about often this season, something I tried to watch. Flynn was the veteran after all, Wilson the rookie who came in with his eyes unflinchingly on the Seahawks’ starting job.
And even when Wilson was named the starter, it was only after Flynn was unable to play in the third exhibition because of a sore arm. It would have been easy for Flynn to feel resentment. Understandable even. But the fact that he ran off the sidelines, meeting Wilson as he began to leave the field and embracing Seattle’s rookie after his remarkable game, answered a lot of questions. Not about Flynn’s future, necessarily, but about his role on this team.
“First off, Matt handled himself really well,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He never accepted it. I never expected him to. I wanted him to fight the whole way, and if it made him grumpy at times or whatever it made him, that’s what was going to happen. But he handled it like a real champion kid.
“He competed in practice on a regular basis. He never did want to accept it, and he still thinks he’s the best quarterback in the program and I admire him for thinking that way. I’ll forever regret the fact we got to see him play very much because everything he did was on point. But Russell just didn’t let it happen.”
So what happens now? Flynn is signed for two more seasons. He not only wants a chance to start, but deserves a chance to start every bit as much as he did when Seattle signed him.
What’s his future with Seattle?
“As we move forward, we’re going to figure it out,” Carroll said. “We’re fortunate that we have two really good football players in our program and we’ll figure out what’s best.”
Flynn’s contract calls for him to make $5.3 million in 2013. That’s not a prohibitively high figure for a quarterback especially when you consider Wilson is still on his rookie contract.
But over the second half of the season, Seattle’s offense became increasingly tailored around Wilson’s specific skill set. In fact, I believe that was a factor in the decision to name Wilson the starter coming out of training camp.
The Seahawks knew the acclimation process was going to go both ways, the rookie needing to adjust to the NFL and Seattle’s offense needing to adjust to the specific skill set and strength of its rookie.
And while you could make a case that Flynn is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the entire league, he might not be the best backup quarterback for Seattle. He is a quarterback whose biggest asset is timing and anticipation while Wilson is someone with a plus-arm by NFL standards and exceptional mobility.
In that regard, Seattle might be better finding a backup quarterback who is capable of running some of the option plays Seattle has as opposed to a more accomplished passer like Flynn.
Carroll was asked, specifically, if it was important to find a backup with traits similar to Wilson’s.
“It’s a good point and we’ve talked a lot about that,” Carroll said. “It would be nice to have another guy who might be able to be a factor in that way. There’s some really good kids out there. We’ll see.”