I suppose that there are some people that would think using the word 'quandary' when referring to the Seahawks quarterback situation is overly dramatic. Quandary is defined as 'a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.' Eh, maybe. Then again, there are probably people out there that think it's worse than that.
My take on it falls somewhere under the word 'quandary,' I think. I don't really think it's so bad as the word denotes, but I also, obviously, don't think the Seahawks are in a perfect situation with regards to their options at the position either. I do want to take a few minutes to explain my personal opinion on how I think this front office is going to approach the situation, based on some quotes from both Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Now, first off - a large part of these quotes were pulled from the Seahawks' media site and were transcribed from their post-draft press conference about ten months ago, so obviously there could be minor or major changes in philosophy since then. The most obvious example of this would be the following.
Back in late April, beginning of May, when asked about whether he would start a rookie quarterback or prefer to let that draft pick sit for a few seasons and learn the system and the ropes, this is what John Schneider said:
"Yeah, that's the philosophy that hopefully the guy is being able to be groomed. We've had some different experiences but my recent experience has been in Green Bay's system, where you don't play the guy. You develop a guy and you have another guy getting ready."
Pete Carroll added:
"Given the opportunity, we totally agree we'd rather bring a guy along, nurture the process and not take it any farther than you have to. You're not always given the opportunity and then competition's going to play a factor here and we'll see how that works out. But for a young guy, it's best for him to move at a pace that allows him to grow and be confident and not have to take steps backwards to take steps forwards."
"They had the great example [in Green Bay] with Aaron [Rodgers]. It was a perfectly orchestrated process. When he got there, he was ready to start and command the position. So I think that was a good experience for John [Schneider]. I've also seen a couple years ago when we had to start a guy that was a freshman [at USC]. There's just challenges to that for the young player."
"You'd rather bring him along more ideally where you can get him right, he's slowed things down, he's in command, he can actually think clearly as opposed to just scrambling around to get things done. So we'll do what we can with our choices and opportunities but we really agree on that."
That's been fairly documented and hits on the logic factor as well. Schneider's pedigree is in Green Bay, a place that produced the most recent and the most perfect example of the fruits of letting a player sit for multiple years to learn and develop in your system - Aaron Rodgers. As we know, Rodgers struggled pretty mightily in the first few seasons of his career in limited game action, and many thought he was going down the 'bust' road. Well, obviously we know how that turned out once he was given the reins after several seasons of ... seasoning.
Now, Pete alluded to this in his original comment from a year ago, but has sort of backtracked a bit on the idea of always wanting to sit a rookie.
Carroll said recently:
"Well, my opinion in the last few years has changed on what the quarterbacks can do coming out of college. I would have told you, in years past as an NFL coach, that young guys can't do it, and there were only a couple that ever did, and that wasn't enough to make that an expectation that you could count on. But I think that's totally shifted."
"It used to be that, unless a team had a Peyton Manning-like talent, it would sit its highly drafted rookie quarterback for most, if not all, of his first season. Sometimes, the quarterback would sit for two years. Not anymore."
"There's a carry-over in the upbringing of quarterbacks that now is allowing them to transition much more quickly, and I think you can go with a young quarterback. A few years ago, I'd have said that you can't. I don't believe that anymore, and I think it's all a product of the whole football world of growing in the confidence and belief in the throwing game."
Now - I feel that there's ALWAYS an element of coach-speak and an emphasis on the hypothetical in Carroll's comments. But, I still believe that in a perfect world Carroll would much prefer to sit a young guy or rookie for at least a full season before throwing him into the fire. I'm nearly positive that Schneider feels the same way, probably more strongly than Carroll. Whether JS has say in when a rookie would get game action is an unknown, but I know that Pete and John work with pretty well documented harmony so I would have to think they'd have a clear plan defined for any given player. That, of course, is barring some competition surprise where said player impresses above and beyond the norm. This means, obviously, it's likely Tarvaris Jackson will start next year, unless the team goes out and gets a free agent. It's even arguable that if they go out and get a guy like Robert Griffin III, that he'd sit a year. Or two.
Now, when it comes to the quarterback search for the Seahawks, I really get the impression lately that there's a clear divide between the way the media and fans look it and the way the front office looks at it. For fans and the media, I tend to think it's a 'this is the year' type of mindset, and we've got to get our 'quarterback of the future'. More specifically, the Seahawks need to draft THAT guy that they think will lead them to the promised land and they'd better be damn sure he's the right guy.
On the other hand, I really feel like John Schneider and Pete Carroll's plan or philosophy for the quarterback position is not a 'we're going to draft our quarterback (singular) of the future' and more of a 'we're going to look at quarterbacks every year and churn the hell out of that position until the cream rises to the top,' so to speak. In other words, it's a numbers game. This front office, in my opinion, will be looking at every quarterback prospect like A guy that has the skillset they're looking for and certain qualities that could be nurtured into becoming a successful player. It's not a situation where 'this is the year we finally get our guy,' but instead, 'every year we're going to look for our guy.'
Said John Schneider, "We will be looking for a quarterback every single year. I have been blessed to be around some very talented people and it's just a philosophy that you can never have enough of those guys."
This, to me, this is not just talk, though clearly he hasn't yet drafted a QB. The Seahawks' rather unique situation dictated, apparently, that they spend their picks on the foundation of the team in the Draft and they've addressed the QB situation through trades, the waiver wire, and free agency thus far.
They've brought in a multitude of QBs in two short years - Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson, Josh Portis, JP Losman, Nate Davis, Mike Reilly, Zac Robinson, and probably a few others that I'm forgetting. Now that there are fewer holes on the roster I can see Schneider getting to the M.O. he constantly expounds in which he has the luxury of taking a QB every year, or even two in the same year.
I bring up the things Green Bay did while Schneider was there and though I'm sure he won't follow that model to a T, it's certainly the best way we have of surmising what sort of strategy he'll take here. The example I cite for the above described strategy would be the Brett Favre succession plan. At the time of the '05 Draft, Brett Favre was 34 and was on the heels of a 4,000+ yard, 30 touchdown season. Aaron Rodgers fell to 24 through series or random surprises, including the Alex Smith first overall pick by San Francisco, and Green Bay saw a target of opportunity. After trying to trade the pick away unsuccessfully, they took Rodgers.
As Bob McGinn recalled in a recent article:
If someone had asked after his first season whether Rodgers had a better chance to be a star or a bust, I might have answered bust. Many personnel people probably would have, too.
As a rookie, Rodgers' six substantial outings included a scrimmage against Buffalo, four exhibition games and the fourth quarter of a December night game in Baltimore.
He was brutal every time out.
In each of the exhibition games, Brett Favre started before turning it over to Rodgers. Until his 20th and final series, when the Packers scored a touchdown in Tennessee with the aid of a 33-yard penalty for pass interference, Rodgers had not generated a point. Sixteen possessions ended with punts, two on interceptions and one on a fumble.
If the No. 2 quarterback job had been awarded based on performance in training camp and games, it would have gone to Craig Nall hands-down.
Against the Ravens, Rodgers threw an interception, fumbled twice and was sacked three times.
As the 2006 draft drew near, Rodgers told NFL Network that he had heard the rumors of the Packers possibly selecting a quarterback with the No. 5 selection in a move that would likely end his career in Green Bay. Ted Thompson, the general manager who had drafted Rodgers with the No. 24 pick the year before, didn't rule it out.
A month before the draft, a panel of 18 personnel men were asked to compare Rodgers against that year's quarterback pool led by Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Jay Cutler. Not only didn't Rodgers draw any first-place votes, he had only one second and three thirds. Eleven scouts put him fourth, and three others even had him behind Brodie Croyle and Charlie Whitehurst.
Charlie Frickin Whitehurst!!
The Packers went on to draft QB Ingle Martin in the fifth round that year and though Brett Favre kept doing the Brett Favre thing, talking retirement then changing his mind, constantly, the team was still not completely sold on Rodgers. Just prior to the year when Rodgers would finally take the reins as starting QB for the team, the Pack selected two quarterbacks in the '08 Draft - Brian Bohm in round 2 and this guy named Matt Flynn in round 7.
Everyone talks about how the Packers' situation with Favre & Rodgers was so perfect and all that but from what we now know, Rodgers was anything but a sure thing. So, despite their first round selection of Rodgers in the first round of the '05 Draft, they kept churning at the spot, taking three quarterbacks even after that pick. THIS is why I don't think that Schneider looks at it like a "QBOTF" type of thing or 'this is the year" type of thing and rather as a spot to churn until you find a guy worth sticking with.
I think that Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson are part of this churn, and they haven't completely ruled out Tjack as the answer at that spot. That's why it gives them the luxury of not taking a guy in the first round this year. Now, that doesn't mean they won't, but I think the sense of urgency is greater for fans than it is for this front office. They'll always be developing guys and they'll always be looking under rocks for more talent.
As for finding their guy, Schneider had this to say about where to find your quarterbacks, whether it be early in the draft or late.
"Both ways. Matt (Hasselbeck) was a sixth-round pick. Mark Brunell was a fifth-round pick. My point is - that position is so hard. I know everyone writes about it all the time but it is truly the hardest position to evaluate. You look at Philadelphia, they have two quality guys [he was talking about Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, at the time]. Andy Reid basically came through Ron's (Wolf) method of drafting. I've been in drafts where we have taken a guy early and we have taken a guy late and we've had two guys on our team. It depends on the year. Now, if it's a bad quarterback year and there isn't a guy there then it's fine."
"Especially in the draft, it's not an area that you can panic for or panic about. But it's not an area that can be over looked because you think you have a guy."
That to me, is why you haven't seen any QB picks in the draft thus far. And that's why they'll keep churning.
So - as a reminder, what are they looking for?
"I think we are open. I think we are definitely open. There is such a wide variety. I don't want to get into specifics on guys but I think everyone knows what I am taking about. You have incredibility tough guys, you have big time competitors, you have really good movers, you have not-so-good movers. You have guys that are extremely accurate, you have guys that have average accuracy. Every one of these guys has compensating factors that are just more unique than guys of recent years."
I'm totally rambling and as with any quarterback discussion on here, there's never a real answer or thesis. I'll leave you with this though - John Schneider talking about his and the Seahawks' QB grading scale.
Schneider - "Our grading scale is based on our team and how we look at it, not the way the league looks at it. So we don't necessarily view a quarterback in a certain manner because another club would view him with a certain specific set of skills. It doesn't really come into play. Now it comes into play from a pure strategic standpoint on draft day if you're hunting for one."
So which attributes do they rank and how?
"That's not something that we want to get into... just competitively. I'd love to talk about it - it's fun."