Seahawks coach rolling dice with rookie QB

Conventional doesn’t suit Pete Carroll. Never did in college.

Certainly doesn’t calling the shots in the NFL.

Since taking control of the Seattle Seahawks, he’s given second

chances to those with checkered pasts at previous NFL stops, tried

players in nontraditional positions and given lower round picks

plenty of chances to make their mark.

Now comes Carroll’s biggest gamble – choosing to start rookie

quarterback Russell Wilson after paying handsomely to sign one of

the hottest free agents available in the offseason in Matt

Flynn.

If successful, Carroll could be on the brink of turning the

Seahawks into the regular contenders they were during a five-year

run of playoff appearances in the middle of the last decade that

included four division titles.

If he fails, and the Seahawks struggle, Carroll will face

increased pressure and scrutiny after going 14-18 in his first two

regular seasons in charge.

”We need to always be in tune with conventional wisdom,”

Carroll said. ”However neither (general manager) John (Schneider)

or I feel like we have to operate under that particular guidance

system. And we’re not. And we haven’t since we got here.”

If the Seahawks are going to be successful, Wilson will not be

that much of a factor. Yes, he’ll need to make plays if the

balanced offense Carroll wants is to be successful. The team is

built around the bullying running of Marshawn Lynch – and rookie

Robert Turbin – and a young, aggressive and confident defense on

the rise.

Pound the ball with Lynch, use arguably the best young secondary

in the NFL to create havoc, and Wilson doesn’t need to be a star.

And, if Wilson continues his stellar play from the preseason when

the season starts, then Seattle may have its next franchise

quarterback.

”Even though I’m a rookie, I believe in the fact that I can

help this team win and do a lot of great things,” Wilson said.

”We have an unbelievable defense, we have a very strong offense

and great special teams. We just have to keep improving. It’s a

great opportunity. I’m fired up about it, that’s for sure. I can’t

wait.”

The three-way quarterback battle between Wilson, free agent

Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson stole most of the headlines during

training camp. But Carroll also didn’t shy away from generating

more attention. He signed wide receiver Braylon Edwards then

brought in Terrell Owens for a look, creating a circus around the

normally ignored Seahawks.

Jackson is gone, sent to the Bills, and Owens is gone, too.

Edwards likely will be a significant contributor. Seattle also

added tight end Kellen Winslow in a trade with Tampa Bay.

There was some trouble, too, with Lynch being arrested for DUI

in California in July. On the field, his rugged running style made

him the most productive back in the NFL over the second half of the

season.

Wilson can only hope Sidney Rice and his surgically repaired

shoulders can stand up to a full season and a return to form that

saw him make the Pro Bowl in 2009, when he caught 83 passes for

over 1,300 yards in Minnesota. While Edwards gives Seattle another

veteran target, the continued development of young receivers Golden

Tate and Doug Baldwin will be equally important.

The Seahawks’ secondary is solid, with cornerbacks Brandon

Browner and Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam

Chancellor perhaps one of the best foursomes in the league. Ten of

11 starters are back on defense, with rookie middle linebacker

Bobby Wagner replacing David Hawthorne.

If there’s a defensive concern, it’s the pass rush. Chris

Clemons is back, and the Seahawks used their first-round draft pick

on rush specialist Bruce Irvin. They also signed defensive tackle

Jason Jones from Tennessee.

”I just want to win; however we can do it, whoever can get the

attention,” linebacker Leroy Hill said. ”We know we’re good, we

know we have all the components in the world to be a (good)

defense. That showed last year.”

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