The Ballad of The 2009 Seattle Seahawks: It Could Happen To You

Scotty KimberlyAnalyst IOctober 5, 2009

SEATTLE - AUGUST 22:  Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to pass the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos on August 22, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Last weekend was the end of the Major League Baseball season (for the Mariners, at least), and my wife and I decided to attend Friday night's matchup against the Texas Rangers.

Walking to Safeco Field, I caught a glance at Qwest Field's exterior display and enjoyed a quick laugh.

Three years ago, nothing would have struck me about the the Seattle Seahawks' 2009 schedule stretched next the North Entrance of Qwest Field. This year, however, the faces staring back at me stirred up loyalty, resent, and sorrow. 

The schedule (image here) proudly boasts a trio of Seattle's best players; QB Matt Hasselbeck, CB Marcus Trufant, and LT Walter Jones. 

The irony, as any football fan knows, is that these three pillars of the Seattle Seahawks organization have combined for (almost) one-and-a-half games played in the 2009 campaign.
Seattle's health problems peaked in week three against the Chicago Bears.
Seattle entered the contest without eight starters—QB Matt Hasselbeck, FB Justin Griffith, LT Walter Jones, RT Sean Locklear, LB Lofa Tatupu, LB Leroy Hill, CB Marcus Trufant, and CB Josh Wilson—and lost starting LG Rob Sims and starting CB Ken Lucas to injury during the game.
Sure, the pessimists proclaim that every team deals with injuries. Every team has lost a cornerstone player early in the year and been forced to play through it at one time or another, right?
So far in 2009, Chicago lost Pro Bowl LB Brian Urlacher, San Diego is without Pro Bowl NT Jamal Williams, and Miami lost Chad Pennington (and his 90.1 career passer rating) to the injured reserve.
The critical characteristic of Seattle's injuries so far in 2009 isn't the quantity or the quality, however, it is the lethal combination of both quantity and quality that have attacked the Seahawks' depth and leadership.
The 2009 Seattle Seahawks feature five players with a Pro Bowl appearance on their resume: QB Matt Hasselbeck, LT Walter Jones, DE Patrick Kerney, LB Lofa Tatupu, and CB Marcus Trufant. On Sept. 27, 2009, four of those five were inactive against the Chicago Bears.
The depletion of Seattle's leadership and experience got me thinking, how would another team respond to these type of injuries?
Let's find out.
I located teams with Pro Bowl caliber players at the four key positions that Seattle played without against the Chicago in week three: Quarterback, Left Tackle, Linebacker, and Cornerback. Additionally, I projected the rest of the losses based on Seattle's inactive list from that same game (listed above).
Please note that this is not a comparison, and is not to say that Seattle's talent level is equal to the teams listed below (a few of them clearly have more depth than the Seahawks). Instead, this is an attempt to show how another team would deal with these losses within their own franchise. In other words, this is trying to explain to fans of other franchises exactly how much injuries have affected the Seahawks thus far in 2009.

* Denotes Pro Bowl Appearance
Denotes Pro Bowl Appearance over a Decade Ago

Players Lost
QB Tony Romo*
LT Flozell Adams*
LG Kyle Kozier
RT Marc Colombo
OLB DeMarcus Ware*
CB Terence Newman*
CB Mike Jenkins
In the Dallas Cowboys' new-look offense, QB Jon Kitna leads the troops. Marion Barber and Felix Jones struggle to find running lanes without three starting linemen, while Kitna gets David Carr treatment from opposing pass rushes. 
Opposing offenses find running lanes quite easily without Pro Bowl LB DeMarcus Ware in the mix, while passing lanes are bountiful without both starting cornerbacks, including Pro Bowl CB Terence Newman.

Players Lost
QB Tom Brady*
LT Matt Light*
LG Logan Mankins*
RT Nick Kaczur
LB Adalius Thomas*
CB Shawn Springs#
CB Leigh
At least in this scenario Wes Welker is available. Unfortunately, super-system QB Matt Cassel isn't around to pick up the slack. Instead, some guy named Brian Hoyer takes the reigns with a team of 40-somethings in Fred Taylor, Joey Galloway, and crew. 
On the defensive side of the ball, youngster LB Jerod Mayo remains in the center of the defense, but the loss of former Pro Bowl LB Adalius Thomas stings, at best. Losing Asante Samuel would have hurt worse than losing Springs and Bolden, but he is already gone to Philadelphia, so at least that's a positive...kind of.

San Diego Chargers
Players Lost
QB Philip Rivers*
LT Marcus McNeill*
LG Kris Dielman*
RT Jeromey Clary
LB Shawne Merriman*
CB Antonio Cromartie*
CB Quentin Jammer
In San Diego's new-look scheme, QB Billy Volek will continue to hand it off to feature back LaDainian Tomlinson and dump it off in the flats to scatback Darren Sproles. It remains to be seen how much TE Antonio Gates and WR Vincent Jackson would see the rock, but while Volek is an admirable backup...He is no Philip Rivers.
San Diego's vaunted 3-4 pass-rush still features DE Luis Castillo and LB Shaun Phillips, but the loss of Shawne "the Juice" Merriman and the cornerback tandem of Cromartie and Jammer is quite a blow to the squad. Heavy blitzes will now leave a pair of backups matching up on opposing wideouts...Yikes.

What do you think? Is it fair to compare the losses of the Seahawks with other franchises?
Please comment/critique below.