John Schneider doesn’t conduct a lot of interviews. Every now and again he’ll join Pete Carroll for a press conference, but mostly he stays in the background. It’s perhaps telling that in the last two weeks he’s spoken twice with one clear message: “We won’t panic at quarterback.”
Schneider initially spoke to Chris Egan at KING-5, an interview you can see for yourself by clicking here. He was pretty firm about Seattle’s situation at quarterback, that the team wouldn’t make any drastic moves to solve the greatest question mark on the roster. It’s perhaps not a surprising position given the team’s draft position this year. When I put the KING-5 interview on the blog on February 5th, I also wrote: “If you’re a Seahawks fan pinning your hopes on this situation being resolved during the 2012 draft, it’s time to start preparing yourself for that not happening.” That’s as true today as it ws twelve days ago.
Now Seattle’s GM has conducted a similar interview with Clare Farnsworth for Seahawks.com. It’s almost identical, reaffirming the message the Seahawks want to make to their fans.
Schneider: “I just know if you panic at the position, it can set the organization back. So we’re not going to do that. That may disappoint fans, because they want to see an instant guy and have that instant success. But really, you’re better off continuing to build your team. Initially when I got here, I thought we were going to plug the quarterback in and we were going built around him. If we had done that, we would have panicked in a way. And I’m not sure we would have been able to host the Saints (in the 2010 wild-card playoff game) and had that great atmosphere and all that.”
I sense the Seahawks are trying to prepare people for what may be perceived at the time as disappointment. Despite the various mock drafts doing the rounds at the moment projecting Ryan Tannehill to Seattle, it’s not going to happen. I’ve seen mocks promoting the Seahawks as a candidate to move up to draft Robert Griffin III, but it’s not going to happen. Get used to the idea of this team not solving the quarterback position because as with Schneider and Pete Carroll’s previous two drafts in Seattle, they have little choice but to take their lumps.
In 2010, the team had two first round picks yet no logical quarterback option with either. Last year, four quarterbacks were off the board before Seattle even picked at #25. People mention Andy Dalton, but I firmly believe it’ll be proven over time that they were right not to draft him as their long-term quarterback hope.
The situation has lent itself to criticism from some, but whatever anyone says - you do need effective quarterback play to win consitently in this league. In 2011 the Seahawks didn’t re-sign Matt Hasselbeck after he received an incredible deal from Tennessee and went with a player insted who was at least familiar with the team’s new offensive coordinator and new #1 receiver. Tarvaris Jackson was likely never perceived as the man for tomorrow, rather just the man for today. I still put this in the category of making the best of a bad situation.
Schneider: “We’re going to try different things at the position all the time, but we’re never going to get ourselves in a situation where we just completely panic.”
There’s that word again. ‘Panic’. I look at the use of this particular word in two different ways. Firstly, not panicking means not making a bad move. In my opinion, chasing the situation will only compound the situation. The Seahawks don’t currently have a long-term answer at quarterback unless Josh Portis ends up being an unlikely one-in-a-thousand UDFA starter at the position. If you grade a player in round two or three, reaching to draft that prospect in round one would be a classic panic move. A lot of Seahawks fans want the team to draft Kirk Cousins in round two, but there’s every chance he will only carry a R3-4 grade and therefore that too would be constituted as a panic move.
Making a bad commitment to a player is just as bad as not committing at all. Carroll and Schneider have had a lot of success building their roster up and that will all be for nothing if they make a crucial error at quarterback.
Then there’s the other side of the story – letting a desire to ‘not panic’ drift into complacency. Hoping the perfect quarterback will fall into the team’s lap is beyond wishful thinking. People refer to the way Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers had the luxury of having a future hall-of-famer as the occupant starter. The Seahawks surely don’t believe they’ll be able to coast along for years using re-treads at quarterback waiting for the glorious day to arrive when a generational quarterback just happens to appear on the scene? That’s a sure-fire way to waste a lot of talent at other positions.
If this team doesn’t intend to endure a 2-14 season like the Colts, they’re never going to be in position to draft a guy like Andrew Luck. This is such a quarterback-centric league now that we’re going to see more and more QB’s drafted early. Not panicking is one thing, but letting a glorious opportunity pass you by is another. Eventually this franchise will have to make a bold move to trade up the board and get ‘their guy’.
A lot of fans think the team is ready to make the big splash now – go after the quarterback and this team will be ready to compete. I more than anyone during my four years writing this blog have insisted the team must solve this issue or face the consequences of not being a consistent challenger. However, I do also sympathise with the team’s current stance.
For starters, trading for Luck or Griffin III will not be possible. Indianapolis won’t trade the rights to Luck having made such a meal of the Peyton Manning situation. They are committed to moving on and there’s no going back now. Luck will be a Colt, whatever anyone offers. I understand there are front offices in the league that believe Robert Griffin III will be drafted in the top three picks – either because a team (Cleveland or Washington) trades with St. Louis, or because Minnesota drafts RGIII with their pick. In my latest mock, I had the Browns trading their two first round picks this year to get the Baylor quarterback, a trade which would make a lot of sense for both parties.
The second tier options – Ryan Tannehill etc – are not worth the #11 or #12 pick. I am a big fan of Brock Osweiler, but believe that he’s likely to be available with Seattle’s second pick if not later. The Seahawks are determined to improve their pass rush and with players such as Courtney Upshaw, Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram potentially available in round one – they will address this key need in 2012. If Trent Richardson is available, he also comes into play as one of the elite players in this class.
I understand there’s a distinct possibility the Seahawks won’t address the quarterback position until rounds 4-6 this year. We’ll see what happens in April, but the message Schneider is putting out there appears to be preparing fans for what many would be perceive to be ‘bad news’. It’s almost a plea for calm, to understand their position and that a plan is in place. The Seahawks don’t want to panic about quarterbacks, and they don’t want you to panic either.
In 12 months time – with a thriving defense including a much improved pass rush, a developing offensive line including a growing running game and more depth across the board – nobody will argue about the team making their splash at quarterback. I think that will be the time Seattle goes big at the position and becomes aggressive. It’s going to take another year of patience, but that’s the situation. There will be good quarterbacks available in 2013 including one player very close to Seattle’s Head Coach. Of course, there’s every chance USC’s Matt Barkley is taken very early – but it’s worth noting how other quarterbacks have suffered slight falls after returning to college. And let’s not try to preempt the 2013 class 12 months too early.
That’s not to say there won’t be an upgrade at quarterback this off season. As both myself and Kip Earlywine have discussed, we understand there’s a possibility of something happening in free agency that will improve the team significantly. Could it be a quarterback? Who knows, we’ll have to wait just under a month to find out. The Seahawks are going to add to the position at some point because Charlie Whitehurst is unlikely to be retained as a free agent. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a very modest deal for a veteran signal caller who can carry the team for one or two years, upgrade the position and help continue Seattle’s progress. Just don’t expect this team to draft a quarterback in round one on April 26th.