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2009 Season Retrospective: Mike Teel

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Mike Teel



Outlook: If Sam Bradford busts, it will set back the Rams. If Sam Bradford busts, but Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy succeeds, it will be a disaster. The former is very possible, inherent even. The path to a franchise quarterback is a minefield. The latter is much less likely. Rarely does a class produce a bad top quarterback prospect but good talent among the also-rans. If the first quarterback taken is David Carr, you expect Joey Harrington and Patrick Ramsey to follow. JaMarcus Russell was a poor selection, but the Raiders needed a quarterback, and for all his failure, Russell has proven no worse than Brady Quinn. Kevin Kolb, we shall see.

Kyle Boller was selected 19th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. He was selected after Carson Palmer and Byron Leftwich and before Rex Grossman. The Ravens were two seasons removed from a Super Bowl victory and desperately missed the "worst quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl" Trent Dilfer. They burned through journeymen and didn't founder, but it was clear to everyone inside and outside the organization, the Ravens were a quarterback away from contending again. He didn't have to be great, but competent or better would be a major boon.

The Ravens wanted Boller enough to trade up for him. Baltimore traded their 2004 first-round pick to acquire Boller. That pick became Vince Wilfork. Steep. Boller, of course, turned out to be bust. A pretty big bust, actually, because instead of being obviously incompetent like Dan McGwire, Boller started 42 games for Baltimore, maintaining his quarterback of the future status until 2007. That hurts.

Boller could not consistently throw an accurate pass. He didn't lack for arm strength, motivation, intelligence or athleticism, but he was wild. Brian Billick thought that could change and it probably cost Billick his job. Could Boller have changed? Can that quality change?

And why this lengthy exposition about Boller in an article nominally about Mike Teel?

His strengths are obvious and otherwise. Teel has a very strong arm. He throws a nice deep pass, can bullet it into tight windows and can make all the throws. Even the one-handed behind the back from the roof throw Seneca bet he couldn't. Teel has a clean drop-step, and plants and looks down field without delay. He can be accurate. His read and understanding of the playbook showed enough growth from week one of the preseason to week four of the preseason to be considered a strength and a promising sign.

Mike Teel cannot consistently make his passes. Sometimes he steps back, sees his man, cocks, plants and beans the cheerleader. It's not about sailing it or throwing it behind the man, it's about his accurate-to-whiff ratio, and it isn't good. He can zing one to Ben Obomanu in stride and then power a wobbler that bucks and bends like a knuckleball.

Consistency, often lampooned (ie "yeah, consistently bad"), is a fundamental part of all sports. Regularity might even be a better word, but there's that Metamucil connotation. Be it a golfer's swing, a pitcher's motion or small forward's hook shot, practice makes machine. The body can become so skilled in a motion that elite quarterbacks pass like I press "a". The outcome is assumed.

Teel doesn't have that. It's little wonder he seemed so streaky in college. He needs to develop consistency of control. He needs to make every throw and know every throw he's making.

Teel could master his talent and become a great quarterback, but it seems unlikely. Dropping him for John Paul Losman, serial sack taker, seems fickle and unwise. I don't think it will bite Seattle in the ass. Teel was always a long shot, whatever his arm strength-dictated upside. Unfortunately, though Teel might be broken and though Teel may never overcome his scattershot accuracy, an inability to read coverage, make quick decisions and anticipate pressure are just as deadly and just as seemingly unfixable. Losman has not only exhibited those failings, he has for six seasons. He has been sacked so often for so long it seems more likely that he's ruined than on the verge of recovery.

Big picture: J.P. Losman joins Charlie Whitehurst as athletic, strong-armed quarterbacks that don't exhibit good decision making. It's only two, but two is a trend and as with everything in the NFL, we're never going to get a sample size large enough to satisfy the rigors of science. Quarterback is the definitive position of an NFL franchise. Mostly, teams get lucky. The decision is made for them. Need aligns with fortune and the obvious pick is made and the obvious pick becomes the right pick. However, an eye for what makes a successful NFL quarterback is a wonderful cheat. Athletic, strong-armed, those are optional. Decisive, aware, consistent, that is the new prototype.

Good luck Mike Teel. I do not have a lot of confidence that you will develop, but more confidence than I have in either of your replacements. And good luck Jeremy Bates, I hope you know what you're doing.

XFINITY from Comcast is a proud supporter of Field Gulls. You’ll get your Seahawks games as a part of over 120 NFL games XFINITY provides in HD, as well as On Demand game recaps from every NFL game every week, faster Internet speeds, and stunning HD. With XFINITY and NFL RedZone, you get every touchdown from every game every Sunday afternoon! Call 1-800-XFINITY or visit