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Originally published November 19, 2011 at 8:04 PM | Page modified November 19, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Danny O'Neil

It takes more than a top quarterback to build a great team

This isn't to say the quarterback isn't significant. It is the most important position, and this fact is not up for debate. However, it's not the only important position.

Seattle Times NFL reporter

quotes Of course it does but games are won and lost in the fourth quarter by elite QB's. ... Read more
quotes This article misses the point. Super Bowl teams have good quarterbacks. Yes, it's a tea... Read more
quotes I got to watch my Hawks for the first time last week (I live in SoCal) and I have to... Read more

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You've got to get a franchise quarterback.

It's not an observation so much as an imperative among Seahawks fans, a preoccupation that has its own acronym: QBOTF. That's Twitter shorthand for "Quarterback of the Future," and it's a topic that eventually intrudes upon any discussion of the Seahawks' trajectory under coach Pete Carroll. If Tarvaris Jackson isn't the QBOTF then who? If not this year, then when?

The obsession with that specific position is the reason a significant chunk of Seattle's fan base would prefer to see the Seahawks lose a game like they won last Sunday against Baltimore. After all, a loss would improve Seattle's draft position, theoretically increasing the likelihood of getting a better quarterback in the draft.

Well, all those who believe that nothing matters until this team lands that quarterback it can hitch its wagon to are advised to look at Seattle's opponent Sunday: Sam Bradford. He is St. Louis' quarterback of the future. The No. 1 overall pick in 2010 who, as a rookie last season, led the Rams to more wins (seven) than they had in the previous three seasons combined (six).

Now the Rams are 2-7, they have given up more sacks than any other team in the league and they'll be missing both their starting offensive tackles on Sunday against Seattle.

This is where the QB diatribe usually veers off into a lecture about how nothing in life is guaranteed, not even a highly drafted quarterback. Start with David Carr, mention Tim Couch and top it all off with JaMarcus Russell to form one big Purple Drank concoction of unfulfilled expectations.

And it's true. There are no guarantees. Not even when you draft a good quarterback like Bradford. And yes, he is very good, the kind of guy you can build a team around. He's playing in a new offense under coordinator Josh McDaniels with a struggling line, and this season is proof that there's more to building a contender than just finding the right quarterback. There's the defensive line and the safeties, the offensive line and the receiver, yet the preoccupation with quarterbacks can delude fans into thinking it's the only spot that really matters. But the quarterback is not the ultimate solution. He is not the magic bullet. He does not leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Anyone who tells you different is probably selling something, most likely the belief that you don't win in this league without an elite quarterback. That assertion is inevitably followed by a list of recent Super Bowl winners like first-round picks such Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning and then Tom Brady as the exception that proves the rule. Yes, Brady was drafted in the sixth round, but you can't count on getting that caliber of talent in the latter rounds.

This whole idea of an elite quarterback is about as scientific as witchcraft. Teams don't win because their quarterbacks are elite nearly so much as quarterbacks are considered elite because their teams win.

Need proof? Go read the characterizations of Mark Sanchez, who was hailed as the second coming of Joe Namath the past two years when the New York Jets played for the conference championship, but now that the Jets are 5-5, he's being talked about like Tim Tebow without the wheels.

Or look at Atlanta's Matt Ryan, whose blue-chip status is now a debate, or better yet, Joe Flacco in Baltimore. He was elite when he beat Pittsburgh one week, just another Joe after the Ravens lost in Seattle.

This isn't to say the quarterback isn't significant. It is the most important position, and this fact is not up for debate. However, it's not the only important position.

The quarterback may be the most important piece, but it is just a piece, and while the Seahawks have yet to make the long-term quarterback commitment at the most important position, that doesn't mean the rest of the rebuilding process is insignificant.

There is so much more to building a consistent contender than just the quarterback. The Rams are a reminder of that. Unlike Seattle, St. Louis has its quarterback of the future on the roster and still the Rams are looking up in the standings at the 3-6 Seahawks.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @dannyoneil




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