For Seattle to achieve above their ability and ride a tough run defense and home field advantage deep into the playoffs, something kind of important must be accomplished first: the Seahawks must become a good team. Yes, folks, I have hope and Seattle has a real chance of making noise in the postseason, but I also have tape and time, and a sick fascination with finding the truth about this team. The truth is often ugly stuff.
One truth we will explore over this week is that Max Hall is the third quarterback Seattle has faced this season that probably will not be starting anywhere in 2012. Both Hall and Sam Bradford are pretty bad, but excusably so because they're rookies. Alex Smith and Jay Cutler are ruined. Cutler could potentially be reclaimed but I think time has about run out for Smith. We are not quite to 2007 territory, but we're damn close.
One thing that popped out to me while watching the first quarter last night is that Hall is tiny. He is both short and slight, and on one play, a short pass to Stephen Spach, it looked as if Hall simply couldn't see over his linemen and so lobbed the ball high and sort of towards Spach in the hopes that Spach could run under it. He was wide open. It fell incomplete. By a few yards.
Size doesn't define a player, but it's correct to say quarterbacks like Drew Brees are an exception to a pretty concrete profile. I am not size obsessed by any measure, but football is a game of force and speed and vision, and tiny rookies with cap gun arms and little idea what they're doing represent about as bad a quarterback as a team can ever start. And as for Hall's future, if you're much shorter than your lineman and can not start a game without being injured partway through, all the leadership in the world is not likely to save you.
Hall might represent a new low, but he had to really scrape the barrel to achieve that. It's been a season of bad quarterbacks.
In week one, Alex Smith was wild and Seattle capitalized. The 49ers are now 1-6.
In week two, Kyle Orton took apart Seattle. Yesterday "Tebow" chants echoed across Mile High during Sunday's 59-14 blowout loss to the Raiders. The Raiders. Orton may be good or may be concluding a hot streak, but Seattle made him look unstoppable.
In week three, Philip Rivers, playing from behind all game, threw for 455 yards on 52 attempts. It wasn't the spectacular performance the raw numbers would imply, but it was still pretty damn good. And it still put Seattle's backs against the wall late into the fourth quarter.
In week four, Sam Bradford -- who, if you've only seen his highlights and so bought into the hype that he's the second coming of whoever, is performing at 86% of league average for ANY/A, on par with a rookie Tim Couch -- had probably his best game of his young career. Seattle was smothered to death by the Rams suffocating defense. The Rams.
In week six, Jay Cutler returned from a concussion and bobbed and weaved his way into sack after sack. This past Sunday, Cutler was sacked four times, threw four interceptions, all to DeAngelo Hall, and amassed -155 DYAR.
And then there was Hall, who finished 4/16 for 36 yards and an interception. Interceptions are worth -45 yards in the classic Hidden Game of Football formula, meaning Hall essentially broke the system. Factor in the additional 18 yards lost on sacks, and Hall was worth -27 yards on 18 pass attempts. The only thing that prevented him from surpassing Cutler's -155 DYAR was a lack of opportunities.
The Seahawks can not control for the quality of quarterback competition they face. It's a boon that the opposition has been so bad and I'm not saying we should give back any wins, but where Seattle should be dominating, running over weaker opponents, they are squeaking out wins. Even Sunday's home win was frustratingly close.
When Seattle collapsed in 2008 after showing a dominating-looking defense in 2007, we were forced to face the fact that some of what looked dominant was in fact only beating the already broken. If Seahawks fans are looking for a sobering counterpoint to yesterday's optimism, well, the rest of the season, in which Seattle will face Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Matt Cassel, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman, may just provide it.