WARNING: Don’t stress about Andrew Luck

There’s a buzz around the Seattle Seahawks and it’s not being created by the product on the field. Sunday’s miserable 24-0 defeat in Pittsburgh was the viewing equivalent of being poked in the eye.

Several times. With a cactus.

As the game laboured to it’s pitiful conclusion, for the first time in my life watching the Hawks people began to wonder if the team genuinely is the worst in the NFL? The hype surrounding Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is so great, being worst has taken on a Holy Grail status. Who will win the competition to be that bad? Who will be the first to give up on their season and punt for Luck? Have the Seahawks already reached that level in sticking with the clearly struggling Tarvaris Jackson as the unquestioned starter?

Only as the Kansas City Chiefs lost more key starters and conceded even more points did people begin to wonder if this was even a competition. The Colts are kind of bad too – should we be worried here? Are they a ‘threat’ to Seattle’s absolute stinkiness? As the second half dragged on I started to notice fans across the NFL ranking the teams who were in the Luck sweepstakes. Some Seahawks fans were already noting ‘competitors’.

Let’s get one thing straight now – DO NOT ROOT FOR THE #1 PICK. STEP AWAY FROM THOSE THOUGHTS. NOW.

It is unhealthy. You will suffer much more stress than you ever will hoping for the team to win. When you’re investing so much time in taking satisfaction from your own team losing, that’s one thing. When you’re also stressing about other teams winning who you’d otherwise find insufferable, it takes on a whole new world. I more than anyone have banged on and on about needing to draft a franchise quarterback. I more than anyone have banged on about the Seahawks probably needing to draft that quarterback very early in the first round. Rooting to be the #32 team out of #32 however is like rooting for a lottery win. To some extent Seattle needs that early pick to really shift this rebuild into gear, but hoping to be bad enough to pick first overall will be like taking on a second full-time job.

Earning the opportunity to draft Andrew Luck will likely take more than being flat out bad. It’ll probably take an injury list similar to the ones being experienced in Kansas City or Indianapolis – key players missing for the season. The Seahawks do have a tough schedule, but they also play in the NFC West. The 2009 Seahawks were impossible to watch and went 5-11. The 2008 Seahawks were ravaged with an incredible injury list but had superior coaching and younger players and went 4-12. Being ‘just’ bad isn’t enough in my mind – as strange as that sounds – to be the worst in the NFL. It will take more.

I appreciate that people will point to the recently announced absence of Robert Gallery with a groin injury, continued issues with Russell Okung’s ankle and now Sidney Rice’s torn labrum. Others will direct focus at Tarvaris Jackson and say he’s reason enough the Seahawks are capable of earning the #1 pick. I still remain sceptical – I think the Seahawks look like a bad four win team that plays six games in the NFC West, not a truly chaotic 0-2 win team like Carolina last year that has to face divisional games against Atlanta, New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

And while many will prey that the Seahawks will ‘suck for Luck’, the truth is they could get away with ‘bad for Barkley’.

You can take it to the bank now that Andrew Luck will be the #1 pick next April. We can run through different teams that ‘might’ pass, but the reality is you’d need to own a young, elite passer to ignore a player as hyped as Luck. A team with a young, elite passer will not be picking #1 overall in all likelihood. Elsewhere, Indianapolis have seen what life after Manning looks like and it isn’t pretty. Other teams will see it as their opportunity to get the next big thing and players like Matt Cassell are not going to force your hand. Forget about picking anywhere other than #1 overall to get a shot at Luck.

Likewise forget about trading up. The stigma of passing on Andrew Luck for any amount of draft stock will be far greater than actually taking the guy and him not ending up as the greatest quarterback pick since Peyton Manning. Teams will want a kings ransom to put themselves in that position and even that might not be enough to tempt.

The Seahawks will have to be a complete and utter shambles 14-15 times in 2011, not twice, in order for a shot at the Luckmeister. I wouldn’t rule that out right now, particularly after the first two weeks. Yet they may only have to be bad enough to pick in the top five or ten to get a shot at Matt Barkley.

For starters, he simply isn’t receiving anywhere near the same level of hype as Andrew Luck. USC being out of the national picture even at 3-0 is keeping Barkley’s profile in check – almost like he’s admired from afar but not universally discussed. Without sanctions looming over the Trojans like a thick grey cloud, his 70% completions – 892 yard – nine touchdown – one interception start to the season would be generating much more hype.

Luck choosing not to declare for 2011 has created a monster that we didn’t see last year as he grew into a redshirt sophomore starting for a second season. This is Barkley’s first opportunity to consider the draft, thus keeping a lid on things for now. Opinion is also a lot more mixed on Barkley – and while I think there’s actually very little between the two top ranked quarterbacks – big name pundits like Todd McShay have not matched grades offered by the likes of Tony Pauline and Mel Kiper in the early first round.

While Kansas City won’t be able to resist the temptation to bin Matt Cassel in favor of Andrew Luck, they may be more hesitant when presented with the chance to draft Matt Barkley. It could be a similar story for Indianapolis who let’s not forget just invested in an insane contract for Peyton Manning. Drafting Luck would be a steal and set them up for years – but if he’s not there, would they rather concentrate on keeping Manning upright for the rest of his bumper deal with perhaps a franchise left tackle in Ryan Kalil instead? They did just draft Anthony Castonzo.

There are others – Minnesota for example – who would be less inclined to draft Barkley but would probably write off Christian Ponder if offered Luck. Suddenly you’re wondering if the Seahawks could finish possibly with a #4 or #5 pick and still have a very realistic shot at a quarterback with franchise potential. It’d still be a stress inducing wait, because I don’t rate any other 2012 eligible quarterback close to a top ten grade at this stage.

So yeah – this is a bad Seahawks team and only the most eternal optomist can expect they’ll pull off another miracle by somehow scraping into the playoffs. Sunday’s game against Arizona will essentially dictate the season – lose that game and an 0-6 record looks likely before the Bengals arrive in Seattle. Win it and suddenly that Atlanta home game offers an opportunity to maybe – against all odds – take a 2-2 record into road games against New York and Cleveland. It seems unlikely, of course it does, but those are the kind of margins between a team that stutters along just about competing in the NFC West and a team that has a shot at the #1 overall pick.

Having the chance to draft Andrew Luck may well put this team on track for a decade of challenging at the top table. I’m a Luck fan, but he’s not Superman and would have a lot to prove.  Yet if the Seahawks are bad enough to pick early – but not quite bad enough to be worst – there’s every chance they’ll still have a chance at getting their quarterback.


Speaking of Matt Barkley, see the video above for his performance against Syracuse on Saturday. The USC quarterback threw five touchdown passes – equalling a school record. Although it’s only a highlights tape and doesn’t show bad plays, it’s worth noting how well Barkley goes through progressions. I’m not sure I’ve seen a college player work through 3-4 targets as well as Barkley and still manage to stay fairly decisive. It’s an under rated quality and one which will help him at the next level significantly, particularly if asked to start early.


  1. Brandon Adams

    I don’t see the Rams or Cardinals losing to us, or picking ahead of us, at this point. The 49ers have already beaten us once. 0-16 is, not a likely, but an existent possibility.

  2. Ryan

    Sorry, but I’ll continue rooting for the #1. This season is a lost cause, and the marginal benefit of wins 0-5 just doesn’t do much for me as a fan. I want a Super Bowl. I’ll take the longer view, suck it up this year, and hope to reap rewards in the future. I won’t jump off a building if we “only” get the #3 or #5 pick, but I know what I’ll be rooting for.

    • Rob

      And that is fine… but you’ll not enjoy it. Seattle won’t go 0-16, not even the Cam Cameron Dolphins went 0-16. Which means you’ll need Teams A, B and C to win too. It’s best just to let it happen and see where we end up.

      And I’m not trying to argue here that we shouldn’t want to lose for a chance at a great pick. I get the value in that – if we’re not going to win the division, let’s be bad enough to pick as early as possible this year. I get that. I’m on board with that. I just think it’s so difficult to get the #1 pick – something the Seahawks have never done before – and rooting for it will be a royal headache.

      • Yum..Meat

        So. First off, thank you for the article Rob. This season is dismal and it is SO hard to watch the offensive line, even more than Jackson. I also want to shift a lot of blame to Bevell. I didn’t like this pick up when it happened and to waste Miller and even place him in situations that could cause injury infuriate me. I see an offensive MESS. I know Luck won’t happen as the Chiefs and Colts are a mess as well, but the Chiefs look down right horrible. Did they change offensive coordinator? I mean Matt Cassel looks the opposite than last years form.
        Anyway. I see a top five pick for sure this year but unless something happens with the O’line will it even matter?

        Most importantly. Rob…Is there hope for this offensive line with who is starting? or will they need a new RT?

        • Rob

          I think there’s hope with the two tackles and ultimately this regime invested first round picks – so they have to back those decisions. I’ve long argued that an offensive line can’t just provide miracles and create perfect pass protection if the QB and playmakers are not forcing a defense into coverage. Jackson struggles because of the line at times, but the line also struggles because of Jackson and the lack of respect he commands from the opposition. Put a legitimate franchise caliber QB in there and witness the difference.

          Even so, I think there’s room for major improvements among the interior line, but it’s a priority that has to become franchise quarterback and explosive pass rusher in my view.

  3. kevin mullen

    I can see us between the 2-4 win category but not sure if we’ll beat KC for that top spot. That Matt Cassel deal is already looking worse with every game and losing Charlie Weis had a ton to do with it.

    Even if we do get Luck, we’re still two to three years away from any meaningful playoff expectations. We’re not the Jets when they added Sanchez.

    I like what Buffalo is doing, love their offense. Too many weapons there.

    • Rob

      The Falcons weren’t the Jets either when they drafted Matt Ryan. It’s about building around your guy quickly. You can become relevant in a short space of time if you do it right.

      • Ryan

        Hmm. Speaking of Matt Ryan…. taking a glance at the 2008 Draft: Jake Long is good, but don’t you think the Fins would be in a better situation overall now with Matt Ryan (taken #3) instead?

        If you have a QB need: FILL IT.

    • Yum..Meat

      Ah, Charlie Weis, that must be a huge role with Matt Cassel looking totally different from last years form. I always root for the underdog, so that being said I was hopeful for the Lions and Bills and it is nice to see some teams have some success so far. Poor Bills..Poor Bills..I remember in Junior High the Bills getting punished back to back SB’s.

  4. Morgan

    I’m already stressed out.

  5. Kip Earlywine

    I have to disagree on this one Rob. For one thing, I see the “competition” angle completely differently. Instead of “stressing out” over what happens to the rest of the league, it actually makes me care about those games, whereas I wouldn’t care at all normally. In a typical season, I pay close attention to all the NFC West teams, and maybe catch a few SNF/MNF primetime games if nothing else is on. But this year, Seattle’s unique situation has given me a compelling reason to tune into the entire league. You might think this sounds crazy, but this is the most fun I’ve had watching the NFL since 2005, when I was following the whole league for very different reasons (HFA in the playoffs).

    The reason we follow the other teams in the NFC west is because the outcomes of those games have an indirect impact on the Seahawks. But yesterday, I had a blast following the end of the Broncos/Bengals and Cowboys/49ers, because those games now had meaning for the Seahawks, and not for divisional reasons. Rather than be “stressed out” about the outcomes, I viewed each of those games as opportunities with nothing to lose. The Colts lost, but losing was expected, so it wasn’t bad. If the Colts had won, it would have felt terrific.

    I don’t think Seattle will finish dead last and I’m not “expecting” them to pick 1st overall. The records of the top picks of the last 3 years: 0-16, 1-15, 1-15. Seattle probably isn’t going to be that bad, especially if the team ever folds and starts Charlie Whitehurst. Andrew Luck is probably a pipe dream. But that’s ok, because I actually like Matt Barkley more in some respects, and Barkley’s draft stock is not as solidified as Luck’s, even though it really should be. As long as Seattle finishes in the top 2 I’m completely happy, and even if they finish 10th, there is a reasonable chance they might still get a great QB anyway. Its not unheard of at all for blue chip QBs to fall into the 10-15 range.

    I’m not usually a serious guy. This kind of thing won’t drive me crazy. All it does is make the season more fun to watch, which is a nice thing to have since the Seahawks themselves haven’t been much of a diversion.

    • Rugby Lock

      Yep… you’re crazy Kip… but it’s a good kinda crazy… I like it!! :))

    • Attyla the Hawk

      Agreed Kip.

      I follow it in a more detached way, kind of like following a fantasy football league. When you are this consistently bad, your football soul is a bit numb to further attempts at torture.

      It’s all about the tailgating this season.

      I do think we’re a dysfunctional team as opposed to a bad team. Most teams with young potential talent are going to find this season to be largely a waste.

      Last year, San Fran drafted two first round caliber talents and it took them over half the season and a full offseason to begin to function properly.

      We drafted a 2nd round and third round caliber talent, with no offseason and tossed them into the mix. I would not expect them to be functional all season. Particularly since so little teaching is done during the season as teams are spending most of their practice time installing game plans. The new restrictions to practice make it even harder.

      I would expect our team to play as if we had no draft at all. But next year, should be advanced for rookies.

      We have the worst QB in our division bar none. We have worst functioning O line in our division. Defensively, we’re good against the run, which if this were the 1980s and 90s, would make us a good team. But the passing game rules and we cannot defend the pass reliably.

      Being bad at passing and defending the pass is no way to go through NFL life.

      I don’t see playing in the NFC west as this big bonanza of wins. If anything, we got considerably worse this year, while 2 of our competitors got considerably better. I’d say all three, since swapping Singletary for Harbaugh was fixing that team’s critical liability. And while yes he’s a new coach — we won’t play them again until the end of the year. That team will not have the liability of learning a new system by then. The best opportunity we had was in week one and that’s come and gone.

      I think 1-5 is realistic in this division. We should be underdogs in every single game.

      • Kip Earlywine

        I almost used the fantasy football league analogy myself. My brother plays a league every year against his best friend, with a lot of smack talk and pride on the line. It makes those performances suddenly very meaningful, and give him a reason to follow the rest of the NFL as closely as he does the Seahawks.

        Agreed about pass O/D.

        As far as the NFC West, I think this AZ game coming up is pretty big. Two games in, Arizona looks like the best team in the division. If Seattle wins at home against AZ, then there is legitimate reason to think Seattle could go 2-4 or 3-3 in the division, which just by itself would “spoil” the race for “#1.”

        NFC West aside though, the Seahawks possess one of the toughest out of conference schedules in the league:

        -1st place schedule (Bears in Chicago in December, Falcons)
        -NFC East rotation (possibly the NFL’s best division top to bottom)
        -AFC North rotation (Steelers, Ravens)

        I see 2-3 “winnable” games out of that 10 game slate. Bengals, @Browns, and Skins.

    • Super MeatWad

      I see myself doing the same thing, sort of. There are a few other teams I root for or have liked since childhood. I have the same feeling regarding the Colts and wanting them to win is a feeling i have NEVER felt before. For a few reasons, but for them to get an awesome QB w/ Peyton on the roster just feels wrong, plus our team would miss out on that QB if they took him. It is another teams turn to have a potentially awesome QB. They got theirs.
      So, yes. I started rooting for the Bengals, Raiders, Colts, Skins, Chiefs, Broncos, and Fins. I see those teams as competition for a top 5 pick.

  6. PatrickH

    I am more worried about a team like the Miami Dolphins, who probably won’t be bad enough to pick #1 but may be bad enough to be in the top 5, and compete with the Seahawks for Barkley.

  7. Vin

    As bad as the Hawks are, this is the most football Ive watched in a long time. I find myself watching all these potential draft picks for the Hawks–The Lucks, Barkley’s Jones’ etc. I flat out want the Hawks to lose out and get a top 3 pick. Im paying attention to the Chef’s, FIns, Bungles, Raiders….these are teams that I believe will be our competition for that Franchise QB. And thanks to Rob, I want Barkley, not Luck. I havent watched a USC game since Texas won the NC, and now I watch every USC game I can to see Barkley in action. Landry Jones, No Thank You. Peyton Manning threw a wrench into the whole thing.

    If anything, Im gonna stress if the Hawks WIN. 2-14 Baby!

  8. cliff

    Rob, Why do people call the Colts GM Bill Polian one of the best talent evaluators in football and one of the best in drafts yet they don’t have a talented team/good depth? Without Peyton the team looks pretty bad. If Manning were on a team with Talent like Greenbay or the Chargers he could bring them to a superbowl much easier than he could with the Colts. Why does Polian have a job? To me he’s like Ruskell but with a really good QB and a couple of good picks in Reggie Wayne, Mathis, Sanders and Addai.

    • Rob

      I think it’s obvious now that Polian was riding the Manning bandwagon – and he’s not the only one. That team is a shambles without Peyton.

  9. Al

    Hey Rob, I know it’s only two games into the season and this is the Seahawks Draft Blog (not the Bengals), but I was wondering if you have been watching the Bengals QB Andy Dalton.

    I remember pre-draft there was a general consensus on this blog that said that Andy Dalton would not succeed as an NFL QB. This analysis to me seemed very accurate as, from what I saw of him from College, he didn’t seem to have the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. I don’t know how he’s done it, but he has been playing very well. Do you think this is just a fluke or throwing to the likes of A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, and, in my opinion, an underrated receiving corp helps a bunch.

    (Note: this question isn’t meant to be playing “jerk” or challenging your expertise, I’m just curious what you think of his production as I am quite perplexed myself!)

    • Rob

      I haven’t seen anything of Dalton this season (not even highlights) so can’t really pass comment. Coincidentally I am travelling to Seattle for the first time since 2006 for the Bengals game, so I’ll get the opportunity to see him live if he’s starting.

      If he’s played well so far, good for him. I will say this though – it’s two weeks in against favorable matchups. I’m prepared to admit I’m wrong at any point, honestly. I look forward to watching him play and seeing how he performs. I will maintain surprise if he ends up being a long term starting QB in this league.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Prospects defy college projections all the time, so I’m usually not surprised by it. The draft really is a crap shoot, because there is no such thing as a 100% safe prospect or a sure failure. I’ll admit that Dalton is a bigger surprise than most, though.

  10. Todd

    I am a fan of the Seattle Seahawks. I always think we will win on any given Sunday. I will never accept a loss. Suck for Luck or Bust for Barkley is not acceptable. If we have a losing season that is fine but I will not be happy. I don’t see us picking the #1 and frankly would not want to make that pick. I think the 2012 class of QB’s is better than last years. If Barkley decides to leave. There are some gems in this upcoming draft.

    • Rob

      I’m not sure about those gems Todd… there are always QB’s who could work out outside of round one but in my view at this early stage we’re looking at two first round quality QB’s. It’s very difficult to find starting franchsie QB’s if you’re not picking one early these days.

  11. -=cysco

    I’ll never root for the Seahawks to lose, but the difference this year is I don’t care if they do. If they win? Sweet! If they lose? Meh, Sweet!

    As far as final record, I think this weekend will tell us a lot. If they can hold their own against AZ, I’ll be willing to give them 3-4 wins. If they get destroyed by the Cards, I’ll give them 1-2 wins. I lump the rest of the NFC west as all pretty equal. If we can’t hold our own against the Cards, we shouldn’t expect to compete with the SFO’s and the STL’s.

    win or lose, Go Hawks!

  12. cliff

    I’d be fine missing out on Luck and Barkley and having an okay season and grabbing the top CB or DL/DE available. I say Tannehill in the 2nd/early 1st if his stock rises is what the hawks should go for anyways!

    • Rob

      I can’t think of anything worse than universal and consistent mediocrity. Picking a QB early won’t guarantee avoiding that, but the Seahawks are long overdue investing their first pick in a signal caller. If they need to be aggressive, now is the time to go and get someone not shrug the shoulders and say ‘oh well, who’s next on the board’. We should’ve drafted a QB in the top five in 2009, it’s long overdue.

      • Ryan

        I know it’s early, but when do you guess on having the first ’12 Mock up?

        • Rob

          I did my first mock quite early last year – about week six I think. Ideally I wouldn’t do one until December, but I appreciate that traffic is driven towards mock drafts. Right now there are three prospects I’d be comfortable putting in a top-ten mock. The rest would be plucked from thin air or propelled above their means. I don’t think Alshon Jeffery will be a top ten pick, but he appears that high in other people’s mocks because he’s a big name and they need to pad it out. I’m not convinced Quinton Coples is worth that high a grade, but he has potential. Likewise Jonathan Martin. I like Trent Richardson but his position suggests he may not go top ten. There’s a serious lack of top-end defensive talent in this draft.

          When I do get on to the mocks, I want to bring some insight to the table and something worthwhile – not just a jumble of the same names that you’ll find everywhere else on the web. I’ll keep watching the tape and when I think there’s enough to warrant a top ten mock, I’ll have it up. This is going to be a harder year then any other we’ve covered to project.

  13. Kelly

    Hey Rob,

    Its been awhile since I have commented on here, so I thought I would come out of the shadows and put my 2 cents in about the Seahawks and the QB situation.

    1. I, like you believe the Seahawks are WAY overdue for a franchise QB. Its like the Hawks Brass forgot to address the position 3-4 years ago! When Tavaris was signed, I gave the Hawks the benefit of the doubt, but truly didn’t have much hope for him. Now, that we have seen him in action, it confirms to me that he shouldn’t be the starting QB. He holds onto the ball way too long (receivers not open?) and when he does throw, its off his back foot-seemingly unbalanced (Pressure cause our O-line stinks). My question is, Do the Hawks truly desire a mobile QB? because last time I checked Luck and Barkley werent very mobile.

    2. Although I know we HAVE to draft a QB that does not help our plethera of other problems. Ever since Alexander lost his game, our run game has been abysmal. My other problem is that a QB does not help our defensive coverage unit. I am SOOOOOOOOO sick of seeing these offensive receivers getting 10+ ft of seperation and torching us. Its flat out embarrassing.

    3. Now I have a theory and although I am reaching a bit, it kinda feels like this team is not really playing for this season per se, but rather for the next couple seasons. This is Carrols 2nd year and I have a hard time believing that he wants his legacy in Seattle to be tied with Charlie Whitehurst or Tavaris Jackson. Year 3 will be the year where he HAS to lay all of his cards on the table and make something happen at the QB position. Also I would like to address some of the moves we have done this off-season: A.)We drafted 2 OL. B.) We signed an ailing WR who still needs more time to recover and C.) We signed a pro-bowl TE when we already had a servicable option in John Carlson. Doesn’t Luck at Stanford run ALOT of 2 TE sets? Just wondering…

    4.) The last thing I wanted to mention and its more of just a personal desire…but I am praying to the football gods that the Colts do not get the #1 pick. I have nothing against the colts but of Luck is as good as everyone says that he is, it would make me ill to see him go to a team that has already enjoyed the services of the great Payton Manning. Spread the love a little…eh!!

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