The Seahawks & The Risk of Not Taking Risks

The quarterback debate always tends to be the most passionate debate among football fans, which makes sense as the quarterback position is the most important one, and one that is easy to have an opinion on. That's not to be dismissive or to say everyone who wants to talk about it is a total beenie. It really is a position worth focusing on and anyone willing to put in the time can study it pretty quickly, but the debate as a whole has a tendency to get out of hand. I don't listen to sportsradio, and don't pay much attention to the comments sections of major sport sites, but my impression has been the Seahawks QB debate has been relatively subdued.

We're in a bad situation at the position, and have been for years, which is why pundits have a hard time accepting that our front office dealt with it by trading for a 3rd-string QB and then signing a QB to start that most people wouldn't have considered a starting-level QB. Including me. I'm not going to pretend the front office was absolutely sure Tarvaris would work out, but in taking two long-shots they got a fairly good result for the picks and money invested.

But what really helps is the lack of alternatives clearly showing they are better. Even going back to 2009, the first year when the post-Hasselbeck era was starting to knock on the door but before our current FO was in place, we had the 4th pick, which was nowhere near where Mark Sanchez could reasonably be valued. He wasn't a top-10 pick by any stretch of the imagination, let alone the 5th overall he was taken at. The Jets just lost to the woeful Broncos, and if I had to put any one reason to it (though there are various, like a lack of rungame), it'd be Mark Sanchez. Josh Freeman? Freeman was a reach even where the Bucs picked him, let alone where we picked, and while he worked out they were taking quite a risk. As a rebuilding team should.

Our current front office has had a dearth of valid options available. In 2010, Sam Bradford was gone, Tim Tebow was never worth a 1st round pick and is currently a hot topic because Von Miller is winning games for him, Jimmy Clausen (broadly considered 1a) wasn't even worth the 48th overall the Panthers put into him, and Colt McCoy is awful even as a system-specific quarterback.

In 2011, more of a market opened up, but one where the prices for the likes of Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer make more sense for a franchise that can burn a bit of draft value on completing their team. The draft wasn't a bad one for quarterbacks, but backed up to the 25th pick and with so many teams reaching for flawed prospect, it was a hard one to come out with a quarterback and without drafting draft value. Andy Dalton? No.

But that's the nature of the modern NFL. Everyone recognizes the value of quarterbacks. It's easy to overrate, like pundits did when talking about the Seahawks this off-season, where they failed to recognize that other investments can have value too even when your quarterback situation is unsettled. But we shouldn't go all the way to the other side. In the modern NFL, there just isn't any position that comes close to the value of a quarterback, and while there are exceptions on winning championships, getting a pro bowl-level quarterback is of singular importance.

Now, I'm not criticizing our front office. I agree with the direction they've taken for the quarterback spot, at least at this time. But when it comes to our quarterback debate, it's worth keeping in mind that you can't just keep avoiding risks at this position. Yes, you're going to fail at times and end up with a Mark Sanchez, but the reality is everyone values quarterback highly. I'm glad we imported Green Bay expertise in John Schneider, and I feel fairly confident we'll pull the trigger at the right time. But it is about pulling the trigger, not about waiting for an Aaron Rodgers-esque opportunity to drop into your lap. The value of quarterbacks is too high, and with that they come with a high cost that fans simply have to live with.

Is the next off-season make-or-break, do-or-die? It's hard to envision us getting out of the 1st round without a QB, even if we need to reach or overpay to move up.. I don't think a lot of people would disagree with me on that, but it's worth keeping mind the basic simple reasoning behind it. The quarterback position is very highly valued in the draft and in trading, which means the risks you take are greater. Avoiding big risks creates a positive impression as each individual safe move looks good, especially when none of those risks are working out for other teams yet, but it's not a long-term franchise direction worth taking. Paying an unreasonably high price is a hard pill to swallow for a team that is not really done rebuilding, but to avoid taking the dive altogether is a big risk in and of itself.

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