Last post for a few days. Enjoy the holiday if you celebrate. I know I can't count my blessings with every bone in a newborn baby's body.
This is the first in a multipart series examining how Seattle can determine its future by determining its quarterback of the future. The second part should be up on black Friday.
The Matt Hasselbeck Plan
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Matt Hasselbeck started the season 25 of 36 for 279 yards. He wasn't well ahead or living on RAC. He wasn't Admiral Checkdown commanding the Y-wings to martyr themselves against the turrets of the opposing defense's Death Star. Hasselbeck was a capable quarterback, leading his team back from his own blunders to a shutout slaying of the St. Louis Rams.
Then Hasselbeck dropped his deflector shields and threw himself bodily down the 49ers exhaust shaft and towards the team's reactor core. He was stopped short by Patrick Willis' superlaser elbow smash.
Everything that has followed has sucked. Broken down Hasselbeck is not much more valuable than General Sack-Himself, Seneca Wallace. Hasselbeck has had broken ribs, and still suffers from a throwing-shoulder injury of unknown origin. The injuries, we must conclude, have taken their toll.
When Shaun Alexander slowed, his decline was inexorable. The smartest, most skilled back in the world can not overcome zero burst and swampfooted cutting ability. Hasselbeck and his fans are enduring a more complicated but no less painful decline. Unlike Alexander, Hasselbeck is not cooked, done, debilitated and embarrassing himself.
Matt Hasselbeck could recover and be a good quarterback again. His marginal arm strength is likely to decline, but not so badly he can no longer make his bread and butter mid-range throws. Hasselbeck can not do that today, but when he's healthy, he can.
In this plan, Seattle accepts what it has and does not have at quarterback. It sticks with Hasselbeck and attempts to build itself around what he can do. It improves the line and run game to keep Hasselbeck healthy and keep Hasselbeck viable when he is inevitably injured. Tim Ruskell continues to build the defense towards elite.
The plan might be enacted thus:
Rework and extend Hasselbeck's contract in the offseason. This will free immediate cap dollars and preempt a quarterback controversy.
Be players in free agency and in the trade market. Target undervalued backs from teams with depth, and attempt to buy elite free agents like Julius Peppers, Elvis Dumervil, Carlos Rogers and Richard Seymour. Seattle is no longer an attractive destination for players that want to win, but Paul Allen's money is no less green.
Approach the draft from a best talent available standpoint, but understand the need for talent at offensive line, running back and potentially wide receiver.
Tap Mike Teel as the long term replacement, or acquire young talent to contest him for the position.
How it works: Hasselbeck regains arm strength as his health improves, but, more importantly, Hasselbeck the signal caller comes to fore as Hasselbeck the quarterback recedes. The team builds around Hasselbeck's intelligence at the position and compensates for his deteriorating tools.
The Seahawks continue to redefine themselves as a defense-minded team. It doesn't panic and pour resources into the offense, attempting to remake an elite offense around a quarterback not capable of helming such an attack, but buttresses the offense and improves and stabilizes the offensive line. The Seahawks young talent gels, perhaps pushed over the top by a Peppers, Berry or Dunlap, and begins a run of dominance over a still very weak NFC West. If things break right, one February night in the coming decade, Robert dies of joy. We spread his ashes accross Qwest hiding our barely stifled smiles.
How it fails: Hasselbeck is never fully free of routine football abuse and therefore never free of debilitating injuries. The team invests in Matt Hasselbeck's skills and leadership and get Trent Green, Jake Delhomme, Mark Brunell, etc: A once very good quarterback at his body's end. The discord on offense prevents major gains by a talented defense, or, what gains are made, are wasted because of the Seahawks untenably bad offense.
Having invested in Hasselbeck and otherwise ignored the quarterback position, the team is stuck between stations, improving on defense as the offense crumbles--seasons away from any chance of renewal. Seattle spends its coming seasons betwixt good and bad, often settling into mediocre, but never a true contender. The upshot: The Seahawks can't collapse enough to rebuild.