ESPN's John Clayton reported Sunday on SportsCenter that Tarvaris Jackson will receive the first reps when the Seahawks open training camp in late July. Rotoworld's Evan Silva passed on Clayton's comments early Sunday and it created a bit of a hubbub on the Twitters and in the subsequent domino-effect article writing at various sites as it was seemingly interpreted as meaning Flynn has really stunk it up in practice thus far. Silva transcribed Clayton's comments: "(Flynn) hasn't wowed anybody in all the offseason program. And because of that, when they start training camp, Tarvaris Jackson will be taking the first snap."
Of course, this doesn't really come as much of a surprise if you've been tracking Seahawks offseason programs; Jackson has received the 'first reps' as the incumbent starter for the team's OTAs and veteran Mini-Camps, and Pete Carroll has pledged to give the competition between Jackson, Matt Flynn, and Russell Wilson ample time to play itself out (way longer than we'll want, he's pointed out). Flynn's inability to overtake Jackson for the job this early might surprise (and worry) some, but my guess is that the coaching staff feels no need to move the three around on the mostly irrelevant 'depth chart' this early in the offseason.
Instead, they've shown they're committed to seeing how things play out by giving each quarterback equal reps. Most of the Seahawks' offseason practices came in three-day bunches, and though Tarvaris Jackson had been getting the 'first reps' as the incumbent on the first day, Flynn got all the reps with the 'first team' on the second day, then on the third day, Russell Wilson got all the 'first team' reps. The Seahawks coaching staff are obviously trying to get the best picture as to which quarterback can command the offense and lead the team by giving each player an equal shot with the players that likely will be starting on Sundays this year. It's also possible, perhaps probable, that Carroll sees this three-way competition as beneficial to all three players as they compete to prove their mettle, and doesn't want to upset what he perceives as a good thing for the team.
It's probably worth adding a little context on Clayton's quotes, which I'm sure will give some fans heartburn as they read the reports without seeing the actual interview, -- though the veteran reporter notes that Flynn hasn't wowed anyone in the Seahawks' front office enough to move ahead of Tarvaris for the 'first reps' with the offense, Clayton expects that Flynn will indeed win the starting job and then the Seahawks will ultimately have to decide whether or not to retain Jackson during the season as a backup, noting that Russell Wilson is still in the picture as well. I think this part, which is sort of Clayton's opinion but ultimately main point I think, has been glossed over a bit (or omitted entirely here, here, and here) in the national reports that followed this interview. The text underneath John Clayton during the interview actually says "More likely to start season for the Seahawks: Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson?" Anyway, this is just what you'd expect at this time of year.
The bottom line is that nothing has changed since the Seahawks opened their offseason programs and though a lot of fans probably would have liked to see Matt Flynn come on and blow his competitors away immediately and decisively, it seems clear that Pete Carroll and company don't want to tip their hand, rock the boat, stir the pot, or otherwise meddle in a competition that still has a long way to go (and has been fairly even thus far - whether that's good or bad). Clayton acknowledges that "It's still gonna be a three-way competition," and if you believe Pete Carroll, he's right - each QB is going to get equal reps until the team narrows this thing down to two. Then, we're probably going to see the competition carry on into the preseason, much longer than anyone is probably hoping for.
There. That was my obligatory Seahawks quarterback competition post of the day. See you tomorrow, same place, same time.