Rookie Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson will start this Friday’s game against the Chiefs.

Pete Carroll said he might not name a regular season starter until after the final preseason game.

Pete Carroll said the coaching staff doesn’t view the QB battle under normal “conventional thinking”.

From this information much is being made of Russell Wilson winning the QB battle at the present time and being anointed the starter going into the season because conventional thinking is that a team plays its starters on both sides of the ball, the entire first half of the third preseason game.  They also play two series at the most in the first two preseason games, of which Flynn and Wilson have seen extended action for their respective halves of play.  All we, the unwashed masses with no inside connections to the team know at this time, is that Russell Wilson will play Friday against the Chiefs with the first team offense and against the Chiefs first team defense.  When Carroll says this is a process and a competition, that hasn’t ended yet, we owe it ourselves to not call it a QB controversy.  It’s a competition that is still going.

Flynn could very well start the season as QB1.  He could embarrass himself at Arrowhead against training camp fodder while Wilson excels against a top 15 defense.  I wouldn’t rule out a great performance from both QBs leaving us in a state of confusion about which will start the season.  I still think it’s going to be Flynn if for no other reasons besides he has looked good enough and protecting Wilson’s development should be the organizations first priority, given what we’ve seen from him so far.  The start or sit a rookie QB debate is one of the more interesting ones, some quick numbers of rookie starting QB’s since 2005.  This is not week 1 starting QBs, but reflective of those who started at least 2 NFL games in their rookie season and had over 100 passing attempts (excludes Tim Tebow primarily).  DYAR is a statistic provided by Football Outsiders that “gives the value of the quarterback’s performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.”  In simplified terms, it judges a QB based on his peers, the defense he played each week, and what was happening in the game.  10 yards on a 3rd and 30 is worth less than 8 yards on a 3rd and 5.  Overall DYAR number, positive is good, negative is bad.

Year – Player, Team, DYAR, Rank

2005 – Alex Smith, 49ers, -866, 46/46

2005 – Kyle Orton, Bears, -585 45/46

2006 – Vince Young, Titans, 114, 23/46

2006 – Matt Leinart, Cardinals, 277, 19/46

2006 – Jay Cutler, Broncos, -15, 33/46

2007 – Trent Edwards, Bills, 3, 30/51

2008 – Matt Ryan, Falcons, 1,102, 7/41

2008 – Joe Flacco, Ravens, 232, 19/41

2009 – Matthew Stafford, Lions, -652, 45/46

2009 – Mark Sanchez, Jets, -383, 38/46

2009 – Josh Freeman, Bucs, -393, 40/46

2010 – Sam Bradford, Rams, -178, 39/46

2010 – Jimmy Clausen, Panthers, -749, 46/46

2010 – Colt McCoy, Browns, 146, 27/46

2010 – John Skelton, Cardinals, -348, 45/46

2011 – Cam Newton, Panthers, 404, 15/47

2011 – Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars, -1,009, 47/47

2011 – Christian Ponder, Vikings, -404, 45/47

2011 – Andy Dalton, Bengals, 575, 12/47

2011 – T.J. Yates, Texans, -81, 32/47

For reference

2011 – Tarvaris Jackson, Seahawks, 161, 25/47

Without watching any of these QB’s extensively it’s hard to come to many conclusions about starting a rookie QB and what type of performance to expect.  The majority opinion is that some of the best QB’s currently in the game have struggled their first year starting, while some have excelled given limited surrounding talent.  If I had to rank this group based on production so far and projected in the future for those still starting, it would look something like this:

No longer starting, replaced – Orton, Young, Leinart, Edwards, Clausen, McCoy

Middling or above average – Smith, Sanchez, Gabbert , Bradford, Skelton, Ponder, Yates, Flacco, Freeman

Elite or potentially very good – Cutler, Stafford, Dalton, Ryan, Newton

I meant to include draft position but memory will serve most people reading this fairly well, lots of these guys were first round picks.  What does it all mean?  I have no idea honestly but I found the sharp increase of rookie QBs starting since 2009 to be interesting, something that Pete Carroll has talked about several times. He’s view being that the rise of the spread offense in the NFL and the intelligence of QBs makes them more NFL ready than ever before.  Prophetic stuff given the situation the Seahawks find themselves in right now.

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