By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks are sticking with Russell Wilson despite the rookie quarterback’s early-season struggles.
Even if coach Pete Carroll wanted to make a change, the health of backup quarterback Matt Flynn would be a complicating factor.
Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on Monday that Flynn “is still not full speed” because of a lingering elbow injury.
Carroll named Wilson the starter over Flynn after an offseason competition that stretched into the preseason, but that decision is being second-guessed as Seattle’s passing game has been ineffective during the first four games. The latest weak output came Sunday in a 19-13 loss to St. Louis that dropped the Seahawks to 2-2.
“I know when Matt plays he’s going to do well and when he gets his chance he’s going to do a good job for us. That’s all he’s done as we’ve seen him. We have a good alternative if we need it. Right now we’re staying with [Wilson],” Carroll said. “We want to see if we can keep moving ahead and make good growth, see good growth, and get these wins.”
Wilson threw for 160 yards, three interceptions and no touchdowns on Sunday. Carroll defended some of Wilson’s mistakes, saying he wasn’t entirely responsible for two of his interceptions. The first came on a first-quarter pass that was thrown slightly behind Doug Baldwin, going in and out of the receiver’s hands before it was caught by Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
“He could have thrown the ball a little better to Doug but Doug had a chance at that ball and the guy (Johnson) makes an amazing play to get that ball off his back hip,” Carroll said.
Carroll also excused Wilson’s third interception – which he threw on the Seahawks’ final drive when tight end Anthony McCoy slipped as the ball was in the air – but said his second pick was the result of holding onto the ball too long. Wilson was looking for Sidney Rice during a third-quarter drive but he was hit as he threw and the ball popped up into the air.
“That ball should have come out [sooner]. We should have got rid of that football. We had guys wide open,” Carroll said. “It was a double-corner-type-of-blitz and so there was a lot of spacing out there. But we got distracted on it and Russell didn’t let the ball go.”
Backup quarterback Matt Flynn is dealing with a lingering right elbow injury. (AP)
Carroll also lamented the Seahawks’ inability to convert on third down through the air on Sunday, even in some third-and-short situations. One of those missed opportunities came in the third quarter when the Seahawks had to settle for a field goal after failing to convert on third-and-4 from St. Louis’ 12-yard line. Wilson rolled right and had tight end Zach Miller open near the goal line but overthrew Rice in the back of the end zone.
“We have to convert and we have to be better in those situations,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks have the league’s leading rusher and a defense that is allowing the second-fewest points per game, but their anemic passing game has been a major factor in both of their losses, which have come by a combined 10 points.
Carroll attempted to take some of the heat off Wilson last week, saying he was insisting on a conservative approach that emphasized efficiency over production from his rookie quarterback. Wilson has completed 60 percent of his passes and entered Sunday’s game with just one turnover, but his 160 passing yards against St. Louis represented his highest output of the season.
Hence some of the clamoring for Flynn, who was the Seahawks’ presumed starter when they gave him a free-agent deal that will guarantee him $10 million.
Flynn started the first two preseason games and was going to back up Wilson in the third game before pain in his throwing elbow forced him to sit out. Wilson turned in an impressive performance that swung the competition in his favor, and Carroll named him the starter two days later.
At the time, Carroll said Flynn’s injury was merely inflammation. But it apparently is still severe enough to keep Flynn from taking the amount of reps he would need to take if he were preparing to start.
“Anybody that thinks, ‘OK, let’s go with the other guy’ – well, he can’t practice yet,” Carroll said. “He could go in and throw it and make it through a game. He throws 15 throws a day a couple days a week, and that’s not really enough to get him ready in a gameplan. He’s got to throw 50 balls in a day to get ready.
“So that’s not even an issue for us yet to have a chance to put him there.”
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