Should the Seahawks have drafted Mark Sanchez instead of Aaron Curry?
Despite Matt Hasselbeck's rib injury, Seattle made the right choice in going after a future star at linebacker.
Seattle Times staff columnist
RENTON — Two weeks into the NFL season, we have a special status report from the legion of second-guessers.
Matt Hasselbeck is down, Mark Sanchez is up, and Aaron Curry is all over the place.
Knee-jerk reaction: The Seahawks should've drafted Sanchez.
Well, thank Lombardi the knee jerks don't rule the game.
It's a pertinent thought to wonder whether the Seahawks were right to choose Curry, a future star linebacker, over Sanchez, a potential franchise quarterback, in last April's draft. It's worthy of re-examination. But ultimately it's a fruitless pondering because you can't make revisions in hindsight, and besides, the Seahawks made the right choice, at least in this scribe's estimation.
Amazing how one hit, one broken rib, can nullify months of sanity. Hasselbeck took the hit trying to score a touchdown, felt the pain, and now for the third time in four seasons, he's out with a worrisome injury.
Meanwhile, Sanchez, the New York Jets rookie quarterback, has won his first two games, received rock-star adulation and been declared pretty much the best thing since frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts. And Curry, whom the Seahawks selected No. 4 overall in April, one spot ahead of Sanchez, has had one good game, one erratic game and left some questioning whether he can play with enough poise to lead a linebacker corps that desperately misses Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.
It's too early to make definitive judgments, but small sample sizes don't make good barricades. We want answers now, and because the Seahawks' supposed infatuation with Sanchez was the predraft story that wouldn't die, it only fuels the debate.
But Seahawks president Tim Ruskell made the right decision. Because Hasselbeck, who turns 34 Friday, isn't done. Because Curry, despite his overeager tendencies, is truly a star-in-the-making. And because the Seahawks owed it to Hasselbeck and the rest of their players to refrain from panicking after last season's hard-luck 4-12 finish.
Hasselbeck and left tackle Walter Jones are the mainstays of the most successful run in franchise history. If the punishment for believing in them is another injury-stressed season, the Seahawks won't like it, but they can live with it. They deserve it, and the year before last season's calamities, both made the Pro Bowl.
Nothing says rebuilding like drafting a rookie quarterback. Hasselbeck has the respect of his teammates. Replacing him this early would've created uncertainty and distrust in the locker room about the Seahawks' direction under new coach Jim Mora. For those who think the Seahawks would've taken Sanchez and sat him for two seasons to learn under Hasselbeck, the problem is that the Seahawks had too many holes to stash away the No. 4 overall pick. They needed an immediate starter with All-Pro potential. They found one in Curry.
Sanchez will be a very good quarterback. In two games, he has completed 60.4 percent of his passes and only committed one turnover. His passer rating is a sterling 91.3. But he also plays for a team with an established run game.
This is relevant because, in all likelihood, if the Seahawks had drafted Sanchez, they would've traded Hasselbeck. Then a team built to rely on Hasselbeck's arm and knowledge of the West Coast offense would've been started either Sanchez or Seneca Wallace and forced them to lead a team with a run game and defense still under construction.
There's an easier way of explaining that scenario: Disaster.
It simply wasn't the right time to make a colossal quarterback decision, especially since the Seahawks can be a playoff team with some good fortune.
The 2010 draft may be a different story. The Seahawks will own two first-round picks — theirs and Denver's — and they might opt to use one of those selections to trigger a QB succession plan. It all depends on the season Hasselbeck has.
Let's say Hasselbeck plays 13 or 14 games and performs well. That's about what you expect out of most quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning or Brett Favre. It's not an Iron Man position. Most quarterbacks would've dived for the end zone like Hasselbeck did last Sunday. And most quarterbacks would've suffered a broken rib for their courage, too. It would be more concerning if Hasselbeck had re-aggravated his back injury.
Sanchez coulda, shoulda, woulda been the Seahawks' new hope at quarterback, but he's not. Curry was the right choice. Even though this week has presented some familiar dismay, there's no need to panic and ask for a draft do-over.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
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