Pete Carroll was barely done listing all that went right for the Seahawks in their most recent exhibition game when the coach got the biggest question of this final week of the preseason.
What is Seattle going to do with Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pryor at quarterback behind Russell Wilson?
It’s just about the Seahawks’ only “drama” right now — if there is any way for a Super Bowl champion to have drama in an exhibition season. The final exhibition game is Thursday night in Oakland.
“We’re going to go through next week and see what happens,” Carroll said late Friday night after the 34-6 win over Chicago. “It’s real important. (This) week will be a good chance for the other guys to play again.”
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In three of the four previous years of the Carroll regime, he has kept two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster to begin the regular season. The exception was in 2011.
The Seahawks must set this year’s regular-season roster by 1 p.m. Saturday.
Carroll has a trusted, ninth-year veteran in the 31-year-old Jackson. He also has a wild card, an athletic but at times erratic, 25-year-old former Ohio State star and Oakland Raiders starting quarterback into last season, for whom Seattle traded a seventh-round draft choice this offseason.
Those facts are the only certainties surrounding Pryor right now.
At Denver and, to a lesser extent two games ago against San Diego, Pryor looked like he might convince the Seahawks to keep him because he was too potentially wondrous to risk letting go — even though the third quarterback is inactive on regular-season game days.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has been working with Pryor to take more time finding secondary receivers after he begins his characteristic runs from the pocket. That’s had mixed results. Pryor has had what would have been big completions dropped, including by tight end Cooper Helfet against San Diego on exactly the type of play Bevell had been focusing on.
But Pryor has also forced throws — into the end zone for an interception late at Denver, one play after running back Demitrius Bronson dropped what would have been the game-winning screen pass, and an interception Friday in the fourth quarter against Chicago’s deep reserves.
The Seahawks have produced 64 percent of their 1,005 yards of total offense and 68 percent of their 91 points this exhibition season when Wilson has been games. That figures; the starter has triggered 100 of the team’s 176 plays.
Jackson has only led four drives, half as many as Pryor, with the second-team offense in two exhibition games. He has produced two field goals. The offense has averaged 3.1 yards per play with him in there, and has converted 3-of-7 third downs. Jackson didn’t play against San Diego two games ago.
Carroll and Bevell know what they have in him. They are still trying to find out about Pryor.
Pryor has produced 16 points in three games while leading twice as many drives as Jackson this preseason. The offense has produced 5.8 yards per play and is 4 for 11 on third downs this month with Pryor in there.
Fourth quarterback B.J. Daniels has led one touchdown drive in limited time. He seems destined for Seattle’s practice squad, that is if some other team doesn’t claim him off waivers this coming weekend and adds him to its regular-season roster,
Unlike in Denver or against San Diego when he entered those games earlier, Pryor played mostly with third-stringers very late in the blowout of the Bears. It was his worst of his three “game” appearances so far as a Seahawk. Pryor’s targets on his two throws were undrafted rookie free agent RaShaun Allen and second-year, undrafted free agent Arceto Clark. Neither are likely to be Seahawks by this time next week.
Against Denver and San Diego, Pryor entered with more second-team blockers and receivers. He was throwing to Helfet and top rookie draft choice Paul Richardson. Both are likely to be on the active roster in the regular season.
The last two exhibitions have gotten so out of hand so quickly that first Jackson and then Pryor have only been playing in short spurts — if at all — at the end of blowouts.
Friday night against Chicago, Jackson got two series after Wilson left one drive into the third quarter of a 31-0 game. Pryor entered with 5:56 left in the fourth quarter and also had just two, truncated drives. The first one ended when he threw an interception. The second drive ended the game, with Pryor taking two kneel-downs.
How are Carroll and Bevell to make a decision based off any of that?
That’s why the main intrigue to Thursday’s perfunctory-for-the-starters exhibition finale in Oakland is whether Pryor makes a final flash on his old home field to make his new team. Or will Jackson’s dependability and experience again make him the Seahawks’ only backup to Wilson this season.
“They did not get a great look (Friday), and didn’t get one last week either,” Carroll said. “We’ve had a couple games where the QBs didn’t get as much action as we’d like.
“(This) week’s really important for Tarvaris and Terrelle and B.J. So we’ll see how that works out.”