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"Winning forever" and winning now: inside Pete's conundrum

There's been a lot of speculation about what's been going on inside Pete Carroll's head this summer, including the idea that he knows what he wants and he's playing mind games with the fans, to the idea that he doesn't know anything about QB evaluation and is screwing the pooch here.

I'm not a mind reader and don't have an inside track to his thought process, but my take on Pete's slow decision-making process is related to the fact that Pete's philosophy of "winning forever" includes winning now. To explain:

The typical NFL team going through peaks and valleys, as, coming off a disastrous season at some point, the team will go into a full rebuild mode and continue to suck for a few seasons while a new quarterback (and mostly new everyone else) struggle with their growing pains and learn to work together as a unit. Then you have a few years of dominance, if you're lucky, before the stars you've developed decide to jump ship for bigger paydays elsewhere and your now-on-the-decline but-still-famous-and-fan-loved QB holds the reigns as you plummet back to terrible. Cycle begins again.

"Winning forever" means that you never enter full rebuild mode and resign yourself to sucking for a few years, that you win now even in the midst of a different kind of rebuild. (And, hopefully, means that you don't see the same decline because you've from the beginning been ruthless about playing the best people regardless of fame or salary.)

So, the typical thing that a "build a winner" coach would have done when taking over from Jim Mora is to find that young QBOTF and install him right away to get his learning curve started through a couple bad seasons and hopefully come out a seasoned starter. Coming in, Pete Carroll knew that he wasn't going to be hitching himself to Matty H long-term, so there was no reason not to get the rebuilding underway with a new QB — except that it didn't give him the best chance to win now.

And who knows? If Carlson hadn't been injured in that Bears game and ruined our ability to run any 2TE sets ...

The lockout made planning year two difficult. We lost Hasselbeck with an intentionally lowball offer, we didn't draft a QB (I would imagine) because Carroll had expressed doubt about winning now with a rookie QB (Cam Newton and Andy Dalton seemed to have convinced him differently at this point), so he found the option that gave us the best chance to win now: a reasonably consistent system-ready QB in T-Jack, whose salary reflected his stop-gap role.

So we enter year three. Pete Carroll is in love with Russell Wilson. If you've read or seen any interviews where he talks about Wilson versus how he talks about Matt Flynn or T-Jack, it's obvious. It fells like this is the guy he wants long-term. The only question is: Can he win now?

Before Newton's and Dalton's season last year, I have no doubt we'd have seen Flynn being handed the keys a long time ago, since he's most fully competent quarterback we have on the roster currently. He's probably going to give us the best chance to win this year. Pete's philosophy says that Flynn should start. But Pete's gut says that Wilson should start, because he's more likely the future, in terms of his strengths and skill set being most in line with the full offense Carroll wants to run.

What Pete wants to do is to see if he can reconcile his philosophy with his gut feeling. He wants to win now with Wilson. Pete gave him the best chance to work his way up to it by giving him full halves on an NFL stage and seeing positive results. The Chiefs game is kind of putting it all on the line, to have Wilson show the coaching staff and the fans and the media whether or not he can compete at this level right now as a rookie. Guess we'll all find out on Friday.

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