You might think that campaign season is over, but I'm here to speak otherwise -- it's only just getting underway. And my candidate of choice? Seneca Wallace, the 5'10" speedy backup quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. In the past month he went 2-1, including last night's defeat of the rival St. Louis Rams, for his first three starts of his four-year NFL career. Three starts that featured a team without League MVP running back Shaun Alexander, without starting wide receiver Bobby Engram, and with an offensive line reeling with injuries.
And he should have been 3-0 if not for the nauseating performance of the defense during the game in Kansas City, Wallace's first start.
The problem is that Wallace's contract is us this year and while there may have been little interest in him around the leage a month ago, everything has changed. Wallace could easily replace the current starting quarterback for at least a half-dozen teams around the league, and that's why the Seahawks need to keep him. They need to act fast before he becomes a free-agent. Make him the highest-paid backup in the league if necessary, but do something. Anything. Just keep him.
Matt Hasselbeck is the unquestioned leader of the Seahawks but having the piece of mind of knowing that a capable QB lies in the wings just in case he goes down is invaluable. For Wallace to win a back-and-forth game against a tough rival like the Rams without the starting running back is a huge testament not only to Wallace's ability (passer rating of 115 last night) but to his ability to command the team and understand the offense. Starting quarterbacks in the NFL don't last forever. We have no reason to think that Matt's recent knee injury will be his last. And so long as this team is a viable Super Bowl contender, they need to have insurance. Wallace represents that safety net.
Two years ago, the Seahawks committed to long-term excellence with enormous contracts for Walter Jones, Shaun Alexander, and Matt Hasselbeck. They've since added key pieces in the receiving corps and on defense. This is a team built to win for the remainder of the decade. It's time to take out the insurance policy and protect what has been built.
Look around the NFL and look at how many winning teams are built on a house of cards. We saw what happens to Cincinatti if Carson Palmer goes down, but he's far from the only one. What about New England, San Diego, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, the New York Giants, or the Chicago Bears? These teams -- each of them very good -- all have unproven backup quarterbacks. When Matt Hasselbeck went down, we in the stands did suck the air out of the stadium with a horrified gasp. And Seneca Wallace put our fears to rest the following week. How many of these other teams will be that lucky?
The previous weeks have given the Seahawks proof of what many always thought, or at least hoped was true. The Seahawks have one of the best quarterbacking situations in the NFL. Matt is a proven leader who led the franchise to its first Super Bowl last year. And Wallace is a speedy pocket-passing quarterback with the moves of Barry Sanders. There is no doubt in my mind that had Wallace have been starting for four years that he would be every bit as good as Michael Vick, if not significantly better. That is how good he is and that is why he must remain a backup. In Seattle.