Overview: In his final season in Seattle, Mike Holmgren loosed his death grip on convention and let Seneca Wallace return punts. There was even talk of him playing wide receiver. Wallace rewarded Holmgren's boldness by injuring himself in pre-game warmups. He never returned a punt. He returned to start week seven in Tampa Bay. He started eight of the final 11 contests. It was his best season as a professional. He set career highs in completion percentage, adjusted net yards an attempt, sack percentage, interception percentage and DYAR. His interception rate was a sparkling 1.2%.
What went right: Three of Seattle's four wins were had with Wallace under center. He outperformed Matt Hasselbeck in most meaningful ways and validated his status as a top backup quarterback. For some, he established himself as a starter to be. He showed his normal arm strength. He improved his pocket awareness and poise, and turned some of that "weapon" talk into actual productive runs.
What went wrong: Wallace wasn't that different a quarterback than he's ever been. He did loopy things under pressure and made pressure of his own. Defenders would close on his target receiver clued by Wallace's unblinking eye. His read remains underdeveloped, though there's growth. Holmgren was running his nerfed playbook, and though his stats look superficially strong, Wallace was the leader of an anemic pass offense. Holmgren was cautious to a fault, and if Wallace didn't throw many interceptions, he didn't convert many long third downs either.
Outlook: Wallace's improved passing stats corresponded with a spike in yards after catch by his receivers. Of his 1,532 total passing yards, 49% or 755 yards were converted after the catch. Yards after catch correlate much more strongly to the receiver than the quarterback. As fans, we can give some heft to that statistic. We can give credit where credit is due on Leonard Weaver's 62 and 43 yard touchdown passes. Both were dump offs Weaver made gold. We can know Koren Robinson's 90 yard reception was a busted play by Philadelphia's defense, and an exception in an otherwise futile day for Wallace. We can see Wallace barely found Deion Branch in bounds before Branch reversed field for 63. All those yards are thrown into the statistical bucket, but Wallace will be hard pressed to relive any of them.
He continues to be among the league's best backup quarterbacks. In another circumstance, Wallace could have a short run as a serviceable starter. Maybe. Long a better athlete than quarterback, he could develop late in his career and still be something special. That's very unlikely. His low interception rate, strong quarterback rating and improved DYAR are more indicative of Holmgren's lack of trust than a fundamental improvement in Wallace's game. Wallace effectively executed Holmgren's nerfed playbook; Seattle passed for the fourth fewest yards in the NFL.