Life Without Hasselbeck

This offseason feels like it’s the most important for the Seahawks since the early 90s, when we had to look toward replacing our last Ring Of Honor quarterback Dave Krieg – anyone can see how well that turned out for us.  A full decade lost in the forest of disposable QBs.  We tried the college ranks to no avail (Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire, Rick Mirer, Brock Huard), we tried veteran free agents with middling success (Stan Gelbaugh, John Friesz, Warren Moon, Jon Kitna, Trent Dilfer), but it wasn’t until we made a trade with Green Bay in 2001 for backup Matt Hasselbeck that we finally found our answer.  Even then, it took him the better part of two seasons before he finally wrestled away the starting job for good.

Now, we’re faced with that same crisis once again.  How we handle this transition COULD determine our level of success for the next decade.  If we fail miserably on our choice, it would likely spell doom for our current regime and we’ll likely run into a similar coaching conundrum we saw in those turbulent 90s.

It’s telling that we weren’t able to get a deal done with Hasselbeck before the Lockout.  This is a guy who’s been the face of the franchise for the better part of the last decade.  The guy who helped whip this organization into shape.  The guy who led us to our only Super Bowl appearance.  He has roots in our community.  His family lives here and loves it here.  Yes, he’s on the downside of his professional football career, but he still has enough left in the tank for at least a couple more productive seasons before he’ll have to hang ’em up.

And yet, here he is, just another Free Agent, playing the waiting game along with the rest of us.

More and more national pundits are predicting that Hasselbeck will sign elsewhere.  Of course, that’s not something that should be taken entirely at face value.  We’ve seen time and again how often the national sports talkers get things wrong when it comes to Seattle sports.  They don’t know their heads from their assholes!  I do, however, put quite a bit of credence on what John Clayton has to say on the matter; he lives here!  And he’s one of the most on-point NFL speculators in the game.

If John Clayton says Matt Hasselbeck might’ve played his last game with the Seahawks, I’m inclined to believe him.

So, where does that leave us?  Unfortunately, it leaves us without a whole lotta options.  The only quarterback we have under contract at this moment is Charlie Whitehurst.  I could try to look on the bright side here; I could say that if the Seahawks were to tailor the offense to his specific skillset – like we did in that harrowing Week 17 victory against the Rams – MAYBE things won’t be so bad.  But, if I’m being realistic, then I have to question that very skillset and ask if he has what it takes – both mentally and physically – to lead an NFL team into the playoffs and beyond.

Before I continue, I understand it’s kind of ridiculous to be talking about playoffs going into this season – ESPECIALLY since we were only 7-9 last year.  But, is it really THAT crazy?  How much will the NFC West improve in a single offseason – an offseason cut short by this stupid Lockout?

Well, let’s take a look at that.  If this is really Hasselbeck’s time, then where would you expect him to go?  A lot of eyes are on the San Francisco 49ers, as they’ve endured YEARS of faulty quarterback play.  I’m not as sure about that one, though, as I see a team with a fresh head coach directly out of college.  I see a team that will likely want to get going with a fresh start at the position, with a young guy who will lead their team for the next 8-10 years, not the next 1-2.  It would seem silly to invest so much at quarterback (either in the draft, or via a trade for someone like Kevin Kolb), and then have them sit for a couple years behind a veteran none of the fans would really want to see (especially if Hasselbeck gets off to a slow start).

No, if it were me, I’d set my sights on the Arizona Cardinals.  They’ve already proven they’re willing to sign a savvy veteran on his last legs with Kurt Warner.  They have a team set up that’s not too far off from repeat playoff appearances (as well as a heartbreaking defeat in the Super Bowl); all they need is a steady leader under center to put them back over the top!  Arizona is still close enough that it wouldn’t be too much of a hardship to fly the family down for regular visits … if we’re going to rule out the AFC West (seems like they’re all set at quarterback anyway), then Arizona is really the only logical destination.

When you put that into the equation, then yes, it really does sound ridiculous to expect the Seahawks to repeat as division champs.

If we do lose Hasselbeck, though, I don’t think that’ll necessarily be on people’s minds (at least, the sane people).  Just competing.  Getting a young quarterback in there and seeing him get better as the season wears on.  Getting glimpses of a future All Pro who will EVENTUALLY lead us back to the Promised Land.  Something the Rams have now.  Something a handful of first round teams will be hoping for coming out of this year’s draft.

It’s going to be rocky in the short term, but we knew this time would come eventually.  Life without Hasselbeck won’t be easy, but we can’t screw this up.  If we fail in our efforts this year, it could mean another decade of futility to come.  Hold onto your nuts, guys.

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