The Tape: Eagles @ Seahawks: Seneca Wallace: Career Backup

Another mistake I made is assuming Seneca Wallace had a good game. I admit, on first viewing, I'm as mook as anyone. I see a pretty pass and think "that's a pretty pass" and when Brian Dawkins comes down for the incompletion forcing hit or Keary Colbert lets Asante Samuel swat the pass from his hands, I think "good play/come on guy, get some hands!" On the second through n takes, the truth bubbles to the surface. First, though, let's address something very important in evaluating Wallace's performance: Run after the catch.

Known as RAC or more often YAC, yardage gained after a catch is mostly dependent on the receiver. In two games, Wallace has thrown for 393 yards against two stingy pass defenses. He hasn't fallen into his normal potholes: Mostly avoiding sacks, no turnovers of any kind, and fewer truly boneheadead decisions. The long and short of it is, facing two good pass defenses, Wallace has thrown for 7.25 adjusted yards per attempt. That's on par with Matt Hasselbeck's 2005 (7.3).

Except roughly 154 yards of that 393 has come not from Wallace, but from two plays by Leonard Weaver and one play by Koren Robinson. Three plays separate Wallace from awful. And on those three plays, it was the receiver who made the major contribution.

Here's why Wallace is destined to be a career backup.

That great play by Brian Dawkins:

2-7-SEA 14 (1:32)

Seattle sets in a 3 WR, I-backs. Eagles in a 4-3. Wallace takes the snap, locks on to Robinson, waits for him to get a step on Samuel and then lays a pretty pass over Robinson's shoulder. For. An. Incomplete. Dawkins shoulder blocks Robinson and forces an incomplete. Why is it Dawkins was there awaiting the pass? It's not luck or great speed; no it's right there in the setup:

Wallace takes the snap, locks on to Robinson...

Wallace telegraphed the play. Dawkins, no longer gifted athletically, can see when a quarterback's locked on. He was all over Robinson from the snap.

Asante Samuel on Keary Colbert:

3-6-PHI 47 (12:03)

Seattle sets 4 WR, Rb, SG. Eagles in a 4-1 Dime. Wallace takes the snap, locks on to Colbert, awaits separation and delivers a strike up and over Colbert's shoulder. Colbert snatches it, attempts to bring it into his body before having it knocked away by 2007 All-Pro Samuel. We've played this game so I'll save you the didactics, but it's all there: locked on, bad judgment (facing four corners and choosing to challenge Samuel) and a rocket pass that Colbert has to stop and snatch rather than run into.

The upshot: It will be interesting to see what Colbert does with a better quarterback. Should we ever see that. His problem isn't his hands, they're terrific, but his ability to gain separation. If he could put more than a few inches between him and the DB, that ability to snatch the ball would be rewarded. As is, he's barely bringing the ball into his body before getting clobbered.

That's a lot of mistakes for an experienced quarterback to make. Though hardly steeled by game experience, Wallace has had thousands of snaps in the same system over six seasons. There's those things we just can't expect him to improve and there's those things I'm not sure he can improve. His drops are unorthodox. In a rhythm offense (and what offense isn't), Wallace's seven steps are as fast a normal quarterback's four. They also cover a remarkable distance. Philly threw an overload blitz on Wallace on his first "flip" to Owen Schmitt. The Eagles overloaded left, sending two pass rushers against John Carlson. Carlson failed to stop either, but it's only partially his fault. Wallace faked play action and continued into a seven step drop. At its end, Wallace was literally nine yards behind the line of scrimmage, so deep so fast, no tackle or tight end could hope to seal the edge.

That might be the curse of the mobile quarterback. Their style is so discordant with the experience of their teammates, and a traditional system so designed around the rocket armed plodders, there's no hope of harmony or cohesion.

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