I’ve always been known as a fairly soft grader, so I’d probably give the Seattle Seahawks a midterm mark of, oh, F-minus.
The “F” part would be for failure on the field, particularly obvious during the recent loss at Dallas, where they comported themselves during the final quarter of a 23-13 loss with all the urgency of Rick Perry endeavoring to remember which cabinet departments he'd like to abolish.
The “minus” is because, at 2-6, the Hawks and their mentors seem to be doing all they can to fail in such a way that they couldn’t possibly hope to improve the club with either of the prized college quarterbacks draft pick next April. A mock draft based on their current record has the Hawks selecting fifth.
In any case, it’s something of a misnomer to refer to the eight-game point as the halfway mark of a National Football League season. The first half starts with the initial regular-season game and ends with the Super Bowl.
That’s when the second — and perhaps most important — half commences, the crescendo being the spring draft. The upcoming draft features a couple of such extraordinary quarterback prospects that the names “Andrew Luck” and “Matt Barkley” are heard and read this season seemingly more often than “Aaron Rodgers.”
Luck and Barkley are or will have been eminently well known to University of Washington-football fans. Luck looked every bit the best college player in the land when he helped let the Dawgs out of Pac-12 championship consideration in a 65-21 victory Oct. 22. Of the duo, top dog may be Barkley and not in name only. Husky followers may find out when junior Barkley (who says he’s a 50-50 bet to enter next year’s draft) leads USC against the Huskies this Saturday (Nov. 12) in Los Angeles.
Rodgers, of course, is among the elite QBs in the NFL. “Elite” is the basis for high praise and higher expectations, well-deserved especially by Rodgers, who not only led the Green Bay Packers to the most recent Super Bowl victory but is a major reason (he leads the league in passer rating) for the Pack standing at 8-0.
ESPN’s John Clayton, who knows more about the NFL than fish know about water, is fond of professing the elite-quarterback imperative of predicting pro-football-team success. At a given time, there only are a few elite QBs in the league, which is odd, really, given that there ought to be at least enough such specimens among the planet’s 7-billion souls to accommodate the needs of 32 NFL teams. Injuries obviously take their toll. If Peyton Manning were, for example, playing this season, does anybody believe that the Indianapolis Colts would be 0-9?
Not among the elites are Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, who have "led" the Hawk offense this year. I had my doubts about Jackson (currently ranked 29th among 34 starting quarterbacks listed in ESPN statistics) not long after the Hawks acquired the former Minnesota Viking. The “heads-up” came from one Ed Schultz. The familiar MSNBC presence, during his afternoon radio program, had taken what is for him an occasional departure to discuss the X’s and O’s of the NFL instead of the excesses of tea-party politics.
Schultz would seem to know of what he speaks, if only for having been a modestly successful college quarterback and sports broadcaster. He’s also a Vikings partisan, which led him to present about five minutes-worth of reasons (not among them the general lacking of an adequate supporting offense) why the Seahawks wouldn’t be going anywhere with Jackson doing the passing.
But, of course, the Hawks have gone somewhere: to a 2-6 record with nearly a zero chance of catching the division-leading, 7-1 49ers. Nor are the Hawks necessarily poised to finish this season with the coveted worst record and hence best chance to draft and sign a potentially elite team leader. The sad reality of the NFL, after all, is that, if a team doesn’t make the playoffs, it’s better off having the league’s worst record in order to score a franchise-changing player.
Seattle has two chances remaining to claim victories against the woeful, 1-7 Rams. Even a single win during the final eight games, however, could keep a 3-13 Seahawks team out of a high-draft-pick position.
Yet, if the Hawks were in a position to pick a touted quarterback, there’s no guarantee of success. A late-season win in 1992 kept the Hawks from being able to opt for top-draftee Drew Bledsoe, an elite QB for several years with New England. Seattle picked Rick Mirer, who had a commendable rookie year but later became a bust of a number-two selection.
Still, even during his worst year here I’d have given Mirer, soft grader that I am, no lower than an F-plus.
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