You’ve heard it before: the quarterback is the most important position in sports. No other position encompasses the kind of responsibility, notoriety, and overall knowledge that an NFL starting quarterback possesses at all times. From Broadway Joe to Joe Cool, the quarterback has historically defined the attitude and approach of a football team, and ultimately decided its success.
Without a quality passer, a team has no identity. Without a general, an army cannot move forward. Without a boss…well maybe that’s a bad example (see Office Space.)
The Seattle Seahawks have been fortunate enough over the last decade to have the luxury of quarterback solidarity. The years with Matt Hasselbeck at the helm have spoiled Seattle fans, who now must try to make sense of a world without a clear starting QB.
A quarterback controversy is not always a bad thing. For coaches, it is a chance to challenge their team to build a new identity. For the players, it is their chance to prove to everyone their merit. For fans, it is an exciting time of discovery, a promise of something better, and a worthwhile offseason debate.
However, I fear that this year’s quarterback controversy not only lacks any of those positive attributes, but also removes focus from another equally disturbing problem in Seattle.
The Seahawks can’t run the ball.
With an uncertain quarterback situation, it would be nice to at least have a decent running game to fall back on. Instead, the Seahawks have one of the worst rushing attacks in the league backing up a quarterback controversy that reminds me of choosing between the chair and lethal injection.
Really, does anyone believe that either Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst is the peg to fill the hole left by Hasselbeck’s departure? Neither has enjoyed success in this league, unless you count Jackson’s undeniable ability to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. Both are lauded for their youth compared to Hasselbeck, but at 28 and 29, respectively, Jackson and Whitehurst are hardly the young franchise changers as they are sometimes advertised. It takes a grandpa like Hasselbeck to make these guys seem youthful.
My point is that the debate between Jackson and Whitehurst is useless. Neither QB is a long term solution.
Thus, the Seahawks should focus on improving their running back situation. After ranking 31st in the NFL in rushing yards a year ago, gaining just 89 yards per game, the front office did nothing to try to improve the running back position. No significant changes were made to the tailback personnel, an odd choice considering the myriad changes they made everywhere else.
Marshawn Lynch averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last year. His six touchdowns were decent, until you see that half of them came in one game against the Carolina Panthers, the worst team in the league.
Leon Washington, brought in as a change of pace guy, got only 27 carries, and focused mainly on the return game, where he admittedly impressed, with three kick returns for touchdowns.
Through the first two games of the preseason, it has simply been more of the same. Washington and Lynch have combined to average 3.3 yards per carry, and the onus to produce yards has fallen on the disheartening arms of Whitehurst and Jackson.
This has all the makings of a dangerous combination. Looking around the league at other teams with quarterback questions, you see that nearly all have at least decent running games.
The 49ers have Frank Gore, the Panthers have DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, the Vikings have Adrian Peterson, and the Jaguars have Maurice Jones-Drew.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, have question marks at both positions, a situation that is almost certain to end poorly this year. While it would be nice to have some optimism heading into the season, it will take a breakout year from someone at either position to keep the Seahawks relevant in an improved NFC West.