The Seattle Seahawks lost Sunday to the Chicago Bears, bringing an end to a strange and exciting season. In the coming days and months, a lot of air space, ink and Internet posts will be filled with the debate about what to do with Matt Hasselbeck. It's easy to understand why.
It has become cliche to talk about how important the quarterback is in today's NFL. You see stats about a certain signal callers' record or hear some ex-jock say it's the most important position. However, the Seahawks should take a long look at the four remaining units and realize their biggest need is actually on defense.
While the quarterback is important, it remains true that defense wins championships. When New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott spoke, or screamed, in the win against the New England Patriots on Sunday, he referred to the Patriots defense as not being able to "stop a nosebleed." Defense wins championships.
A good quarterback can get you into the playoffs—just ask Atlanta, New England, New Orleans and Indianapolis. However, they were shut down by teams with great defenses this year. Even last year, when the Saints boasted a powerful offense led by Drew Brees, it was their defense that forced key turnovers in the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
That same defense let down Brees and the Saints this year and they were eliminated in the first round.
The Seahawks' noses have been bleeding all year. They ended the season ranked 21st against the run, 27th against the pass, 27th overall and gave up over 25 points a game. That won't lead to wins, no matter who the quarterback is.
Their defense as a whole needs help. Sunday in Chicago they were the team that fans in the Northwest had seen all year. They could not get consistent pressure on Jay Cutler, gave up big third down completions to wide open receivers and allowed the Bears to rush for 176 yards.
They need to start with the secondary. Marcus Trufant was a Pro-Bowler a couple of years ago, but really struggled this year and has not been the shut down corner the Seahawks need. Kelly Jennings, on the other side, is undersized and had a forgettable year.
Safety Earl Thomas had a promising rookie season despite hitting the rookie wall late and should continue to progress nicely. However, they need to find a long-term answer at the other safety position. Lawyer Milloy is a good leader but his age and declining production are a concern.
The linebackers as a whole are decent, but there some questions about Lofa Tatupu. Always a fan favorite, he hasn't made any big plays the past two years and may not be the long—term answer at middle linebacker.
They also need to find a role that Aaron Curry can play. Is he a pass rusher or not? He has been inconsistent and much more is needed out of a former top five pick.
Seattle has has had to overcome a number of crippling injuries on the defensive line. When healthy, Red Bryant was a stout run defender and the Seahawks were decent stopping the run. Bryant has yet to make it through a season healthy and they need to find a more reliable answer.
Chris Clemons was a pleasant surprise on the edge and did provide the Seahawks with a pass rushing threat. Unfortunately, he was the only one. If Curry can't develop into a consistent pass rusher, then they will still need an upgrade to compliment Clemons.
The Seahawks face a lot of challenges this offseason, but if they don't make the defense a top priority, the debate about quarterback will be meaningless. Hopefully, general manager John Schneider will be watching Sunday as four good defenses battle it out for a trip to the Super Bowl.
Hopefully him and Pete Carroll go out and get some Kleenex to stop the bleeding.