Here's where Carroll was smart: Despite the big free-agent contract Seattle had given former Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn, Carroll said from the first mini-camp that Flynn, Wilson and 2011 starter Tarvaris Jackson would compete for the quarterback position. Day by day Carroll alternated who got the most first-team reps. The offense had West Coast principles, but Carroll liked to take shots downfield, and Bevell was going to ride Marshawn Lynch heavily. Wilson didn't care. "The greatest athletes of all time have always been able to adjust," he says. He won the job.
Wilson showed at N.C. State that he could run the common West Coast scheme. He showed at Wisconsin that he could play behind a huge line and be effective, and he showed he could throw a great deep ball. And now he's shown he can be Tarkenton—a mobile guy in the pocket, running not to run but to evade pressure while he finds an open receiver. "We were all amazed how long he could keep plays alive," says Seattle wideout Sidney Rice, who caught the pass in the 24--23 Week 6 victory over the Patriots that convinced many Seahawks that Wilson was for real. With 1:18 left, Wilson looped around the pocket, settled on the right hashmark and hit Rice in stride deep, between two defenders, for a game-winning 46-yard touchdown.
"When we gave Russell the job," says Carroll, "I thought, Well, buckle up: It's gonna be a Disney ride. It wasn't conventional thinking. But conventional thinking, that's not always what wins."
Now let's see how many more NFL teams will strap in for a similar ride in 2013.