Former Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace has been in the game for long time. But earlier this season, Wallace's career was interrupted when he was cut by Cleveland. The presence of third-year QB Colt McCoy and the drafting of Brandon Weeden made Wallace expendable.
Things weren't always this way for Wallace, who came into the 2003 draft after taking his Iowa State Cyclones to two consecutive bowl games. He also made his mark with one of most thrilling runs in recent college football history—a 12-yard mad dash which came to be known in Cyclone lore simply as "The Run." Wallace slipped to the fourth round where he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks to be the backup for Matt Hasselback.
One of the reasons Wallace fell as far as he did was that he didn't fit the typical profile of an NFL QB at the time. Rather, he was part of the new breed of QBs that the NFL was exploring—the mobile quarterback.
Drafted in 2001, Michael Vick took the notion of what a quarterback could do with his legs to a whole new level (with respect to Randall Cunningham). In his first full season as the Atlanta Falcons starting QB (2002), Vick ran for 777 yards, including a 173-yard rushing performance against the Minnesota Vikings, still a regular season record. This blew people away. But Vick also had some success passing the ball, throwing for over 2,900 yards and 16 TDs that same season.
Teams drafting in 2003 knew that Wallace could pass (over 5,200 yards and 26 TDs in college), but they also knew that he could hug the rock and run. "The Run" shows up on in the stat book as a 12-yard touchdown run, however, you'll see that Wallace scampered an estimated 135 yards for the TD. It was a play that put Wallace in the conversation for the Heisman that year.
In only two years at Iowa State, Seneca Wallace ran for over 900 yards, averaged 3.8 yards per carry and amassed 15 touchdowns, numbers that compare favorably to Russell Wilson's stats from his four years in college: 1,421 yards rushing, 3.2 yards per carry and 23 touchdowns.
The game of football has changed. No longer are we just expecting the quarterback to sit in the pocket and just have pinpoint accuracy and velocity. Teams are looking for the double threat—the gunslinger and the runner.
I was able to talk to Seneca Wallace and ask him what he's been up to during the season and get his take on the new breed of QBs in the league as well as the NFL playoffs.
Kahlil Najar: Seneca, thanks for taking the time to talk about the NFL and your career. What have you been up to during the season?
Seneca Wallace: No problem man! I've been trying to stay focused and get myself back into the league. I know that I can provide services to teams out there that need them, either as a starter or someone to help nurture a young guy. I've also been focused on my charity, Joyce's Angels which I started for my mom ever since she passed away from multiple myeloma. It's a rare form of cancer that actually affects a lot of people.
KN: That's nice that you are able to help people out with a cause that's near and dear to you.
SW: This offseason I was able to have an event at Colossal Cupcakes in Cleveland that brought attention to my charity and we got a pretty good response. TV crews showed, some teammates. It was good overall.
KN: Awesome! Have you been watching the NFL playoffs this year? Your old team the Seahawks had a good run.
SW: I've been watching this whole year. There's a tremendous rookie quarterback class this year. All of them, even the ones not in the playoffs did really well this season. In Seattle, they were able to build a system around Russell Wilson that helped him out this year. Their running game, their defense. Plus they have a really great crowd up there. Andrew Luck is great and RGIII's skill level is out of this world.
KN: There's a lot of teams out there who are in need of a quarterback coming into the offseason. What teams do you see you working well in?
SW: I can see myself going back to a team I'm familiar with. I've been running in the West Coast Offense for a while now and I know there's a few head coaches out there that I would love to play for. Andy Reid is out in KC now, and he runs the West Coast. Sean Payton in New Orleans. Green Bay or Arizona would also be great destinations.
KN: I know during the NFL season you were able to hop in the broadcast booth. Is that something you might want to do in the future?
SW: Sports has always been a part of my life. I love being around the game and have great ties to it. Being an athlete who's played the game, it makes your job easier to transition into a broadcaster. But it's definitely something I plan on doing in the future.
KN: Lastly, to go back to the young rookie class and how they've been doing. How do you feel you would have been perceived if you had entered the draft this year straight out of college?
SW: You have to remember that when I was drafted, around the same time that Michael Vick was drafted, it was a different league. The teams that took us both knew that we can run and have the arm to back it up but that wasn't how it was back then. We were told to stay in the pocket for as long as possible then only if it was necessary we could run out. Or they would let us use our feet on third and five's and run a draw.
Nowadays, teams are using the quarterbacks intelligence and letting them use their feet if they want. I never thought I'd ever see the option run in the NFL but its been done and it works. I'm still happy with the way my career has gone but I can't imagine what might have happened if I was brought in using this system.