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Matt Flynn trade leaves Seahawks without a backup quarterback

Rick Stewart

The Matt Flynn trade is now officially official. Hopefully this means we'll all get to see him as a starter down in Oakland. That will be cool.

For the Seahawks and their fans though, onward: who now does Seattle acquire to backup Russell Wilson? My theory has been one that's shared, more or less, by Davis Hsu and a few others that I talk to consistently - if, god forbid, Wilson were to sustain an injury that kept him from the starting lineup, Seattle would revert to their dumbed-down, basic offense. For a boxing metaphor, imagine a heavily favored champion going against an underdog contender - how does the contender approach the bout? Body blows. Use the whole ring. Defend your head. Use strategic jabs. Make the champ chase you. Wait until he drops his glove and land a haymaker.

This theoretical offense would probably lean on the run more than any team in the NFL, and would utilize the pistol and read option to facilitate that. Davis posited a number for the run-frequency in that type of offense today: 65%. About two-thirds of total snaps would be runs. That sounds about right to me. Run the ball, run the read-option, run your base offense from the pistol, and use play-action to strike downfield strategically. Like every other team must do, pass the ball on third down, using the offensive weapons at your disposal. Design plays that allow the theoretical backup quarterback a one- or two-read drop but has built in scramble outlets.

Considering Seattle's weapons on offense, it's entirely plausible that this type of limited, stripped down offense could actually sustain some success, even with a guy like Tyler Thigpen or Colt McCoy at the helm. Even with a less-than-dynamic quarterback running the show, you could get Percy Harvin involved with end-arounds, with bubble/tunnel screens. Get Golden Tate one-on-one on the outside. Drag Sidney Rice across the field and throw it up to him at the sideline. Chip and release with Zach Miller and use him as an outlet. Dump it off to Marshawn and hope he can break a tackle or two. Find Doug Baldwin in a soft zone over the middle. Match Anthony McCoy up against a linebacker. This is all in theory, but my guess is that Seattle views their 'Russell Wilson Injury Contingency" something like what I've just laid out.

Make the quarterback the point guard. Back to that term. Game Manager. Use your legs. Don't turn it over. Make a seam pass from time to time. Throw on the run. Get outside the pocket to extend the play when pressure comes. No matter who the backup QB is going to be, it's going to be a little (a lot) ugly, most likely. Think: Tarvaris Jackson 2011 or Russell Wilson early 2012.

So, who's it going to be? There have been two names mentioned more than others thus far. At this point, Tyler Thigpen appears to the be frontrunner, and both Jason La Canfora and Chris Mortensen have reported the connection. This looks to me to be more than just idle conjecture or dot connecting. I think it's safe to assume that Thigpen is a real option, and probably the first option, when it comes to free agency.

Firstly, he'd be cheap. That's a big deal. That's why Flynn is gone in the first place. Outside that, he's still young (28), he's athletic, and he has experience in the type of offense I laid out above, specifically with the pistol. I don't know how big of a deal that will turn out becoming, but it's the most logical reason they're interested in him, and that's the bottom line. You have to jump to the conclusion that the Pistol would be a big part of the RW Injury Contingency.

The 2nd player being mentioned? As Danny O'Neil wrote a few days ago:

"One player to keep an eye on: Colt McCoy. He's currently on the Browns roster as Cleveland attempts to trade him, but is expected to be released and could be someone that fits what Seattle will be looking for in its backup."

Brock Huard echoed this sentiment, and listed McCoy #1 on his Top-5 QB Room Additions list.

Of course, McCoy is still on the Browns. That's not expected to last. They're not expected to find a trade partner. So, when McCoy becomes available, would he become the #1 option? Perhaps. I certainly wouldn't be against it. He's athletic, tough, can throw on the move, can run, and - going back to Huard's list - would likely make a good QB meeting room complement to Wilson in that he's known to be a film-rat and a worker.

With a strong group of weapons at his disposal, I don't doubt that McCoy would at least function as a game-manager type. Again, it would probably be ugly, but Seattle could do worse. McCoy has completed 58% of his passes for 4,388 yards, 21 TD to 20 interceptions in his four-year career. He's evidently not in Cleveland's long-term plans though.


As for what John Schneider thinks of the situation - he was asked where Seattle goes next with respects to their backup quarterback, and, after quipping "Well, I'll tell you exactly what we're going to do.. (laughs) ... that was a joke," he responded with this vague morass of an answer:

"There's different avenues that we can go - obviously we have a plan in place, and it's contingent on who that player is. Obviously, there's veterans that are available right now - some very talented guys, actually - and some guys that are all football, and have been down that road before that Russell has previously experienced, and there's also some guys in the draft that we think are pretty interesting. We have a plan, and we're just going to kind of take it as it comes. We're not going to rush anything and we're not going to get ourselves into a situation we we have our hands tied."


So - let's guess.

First, the weirdly worded: "We have a plan in place, and it's contingent on who that player is". I'm not sure what that means, but I would guess JS is alluding to McCoy, because he follows it up with, (ie, conversely) "there's veterans that are available right now.' Technically, Schneider is not allowed to talk about McCoy because that would be tampering, but once McCoy is actually released ("It's contingent" upon that release, obviously) that's an avenue they could explore. Maybe?

NOTE: I might've been right, but nevermind that now.

Second: "Some guys that are all football,.. and have been down that road before that Russell has previously experienced."

'Down that road before that Russell has previously experienced.' It's a weirdly worded sentence again and it almost sounds like he switches subject mid-sentence from guys that are all football to guys that are not all football, as he tries to remain vague.

So what's he mean?

Short guy? Undervalued guy? ESPN's Brady Henderson, on Twitter, guessed that Schneider may be referring to Pat White because of White's foray into baseball (ie, he's not 'all football'), similar to what Russell experienced in college -- Wilson's baseball endeavors forced him to transfer to Wisconsin prior to his senior year.

Anyway, there are my guesses. Maybe we should just wait until they sign a guy or two, but what would be the fun be in that?