For this week and the preseason opener, Matt Flynn is the Seattle Seahawks’ starting quarterback.
Beyond Saturday night against Tennessee, coach Pete Carroll is keeping it a mystery.
"You’ll have to wait and see," Carroll said. "Wait and see. Taking one week at a time."
The decision to announce the quarterback plans for the preseason opener is the first definitive move Carroll and the Seahawks have made in their three-way quarterback competition. Flynn will take all the reps with the first-team offense for the rest of this week — beginning with Wednesday’s practice — and play the entire first half. Rookie Russell Wilson will play the second half against the Titans, leaving incumbent Tarvaris Jackson on the sideline as a spectator.
Jackson worked with the No. 1 offense in last Sunday’s scrimmage and in practice on Tuesday, but will see his reps cut significantly the rest of the week as game preparation starts to kick in.
"T-Jack came in in great shape, he’s quicker than he was, he worked his tail off in the offseason," Carroll said. "You could tell his arm is strong, he’s fully recovered, he knows what we’re doing, he’s solid with everything, and at this time I think I can make a little bit of a shift and cut down his reps so that we can get a really good look at Matt and at Russell.
"To make a big decision like this, it’s about your information that you gather, and I want really, really good information coming in so that we can make a really clear-cut choice as we do it."
What Carroll wouldn’t answer is whether this is the start of a shift away from Jackson and toward the two newcomers. Jackson played 14 games last season, earning locker room respect for playing through a painful pectoral injury for most of the year and helping Seattle recover from a 2-6 start. Yet he could never finish games the way the Seahawks wanted. Four times last season at home, Jackson faltered in the fourth quarter and was one of the reasons Seattle missed the postseason.
Jackson has looked good during training camp, but now it’s Flynn and Wilson’s opportunity to take a step ahead.
"To do this and get a lot of information early, we had to rotate the quarterbacks with the receivers as well so they got to throw to the same guys and we could figure that out, which our coaching did a great job of doing, but now as prepare for the game, we’ll zero in with the guys that the quarterbacks will actually throw to in the game, so that will help a little bit for continuity," Carroll said. "Matt has done a fantastic job so far. He’s learned the system, he’s on it, he can make all of the adjustments, all of the calls, he sees the defense really well. I love that he’s moving well in the pocket. All of the things we’re asking him to do, he’s fit that together so far, but now I need to see him in a situation where he takes over and see what that looks like."
Flynn was one of the hottest free agents on the market in the offseason. But Seattle added another layer of insurance by drafting Wilson in the third round out of Wisconsin. Wilson performed well during offseason workouts and minicamp and has flashed at times during training camp but also showed some expected rookie struggles.
Asked when he would finally make a decision on a starter for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 at Arizona, Carroll again indicated he wants it determined sooner than later.
"As soon as possible," Carroll said. "But I’m not going to rush it."