As the Seattle Seahawks prepare for free agency and the NFL draft, the general consensus is that they need to upgrade their quarterback position. This has been an ongoing issue for the Seahawks since Matt Hasselbeck began to age and eventually move on to Tennessee.
Do the Seahawks pick up someone in the draft? Do they take a run at Peyton Manning? Do they sign Matt Flynn and let him compete for the job? Do they ride out another year with Tarvaris Jackson?
These are the decisions the team will be chewing on this off season. The two men making these decisions are general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. Considering their track record with quarterbacks, how confident are you about the choice they are about to make?
The NFL has evolved into a league that requires you to have a good quarterback to have a chance at having big success.
Sure, a team can win some games with an average or mediocre guy, but to take the step the Seahawks want, they are going to have to have great quarterback play.
One of the first moves that Schneider and Carroll made after taking over in Seattle was to acquire quarterback Charlie Whitehurst via a trade. They then gave the former San Diego third stringer a two-year, $8 million contract.
That’s a lot of clams for a guy who had never thrown a regular-season pass in the NFL, and never looked particularly good in preseason games.
He was supposed to push then-starter Hasselbeck for the job. He never did.
It turns out that Whitehurst was and is terrible. Fans clamored for him, which had more to do with the adage of the backup being the most popular player than it did about his skill level. When he finally got his chance to start a few games, the results were horrendous.
It is safe to say that Carroll and Schneider took a big swing and a whiff on their first quarterback decision.
The second one came this last off season when they decided that Hasselbeck was too rich for their blood and they let him walk off to the Titans.
This made sense to some degree. The team was rebuilding with a young and raw offensive line and with Hasselbeck’s injury history, not to mention age, he probably was no longer a fit for the Seahawks.
To replace the best quarterback in the franchise's history, they turned to Tarvaris Jackson. The same Jackson who had struggled in Minnesota. When brought in, he was immediately named the starter despite Carroll’s insistence that there would be a competition with Whitehurst.
Jackson had his moments in 2011 and while he was far from terrible, he wasn’t great. With him behind center, the Seahawks' expectations are limited. While he can manage some wins, he is not the type of player who can put a team on his shoulder.
Was Jackson the right choice? Should they have drafted someone like Andy Dalton in the draft? Dalton was available when Seattle picked and reports indicated that the Seahawks really liked him.
Dalton had a strong rookie year and you have to wonder, if Seattle had chosen him how much stronger of a position they would be in now.
So far, Carroll and Schneider have chosen a never-was in Whitehurst and a never-will-be in Jackson.
Now they are faced with upgrading the position again and will be making their third big decision.
Have they learned from their mistakes? Carroll was very vocal about the type of team he wanted to build. He wants one where the quarterback is not the focus of the offense. He wants to win with defense and a strong running game.
While this makes sense, he had both a strong running game and defense last year and only won seven games.
The NFL is a quarterback league, the rules have been tweaked to favor passing, and while that doesn’t mean Carroll’s plan won’t work, it does mean that you need a guy behind center who can carry a team at times.
You need a guy who can lead the team back in the fourth quarter, something Jackson failed to do all year, and you need a guy who can garner respect from opposing defenses.
Jackson is not that guy and so far, the track record of Schneider and Carroll to find that guy has been spotty at best.
This upcoming decision may ultimately end up deciding Carroll’s fate in Seattle. If he chooses wrong, the Seahawks may be doomed to mediocrity and eventually may search for new leadership.