Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Little Story about Potential and Patience

One of the favorite tales to tell at the Super Bowl this week is Aaron Rodgers' rise to fame. His story has it all: College success, a precipitous drop in the draft, years of anonymity behind Mr. Madden's love child A.K.A. Brett Favre, the behind-the-scenes soap opera that played out with Mr. Favre and Ted Thompson with Rodgers stuck in the middle trying to say the right things, and Rodgers' meteoric success when he finally got his chance.

Now, the rest of the story. My apologies, Paul Harvey.

Aaron Rodgers fell in the draft because he had lots of potential, but during the draft process didn't show extremely well. His 6'2" stature didn't help, and he had very real mechanical issues in his delivery. His personality was off-putting to some. The 49ers, who had been watching his career from across the bay, reportedly passed on him because Mike Nolan thought the two of them would not get along.

It gets even more interesting.

As per a recent interview I heard with Phil Simms, (interviewed on NFL radio just after Rodgers' awesome performance against the Falcons), Rodgers was just plain terrible in his frst two seasons. The media, including Simms, would flock to see Favre at training camp, and Simms in particular recollects thinking, "this guy (Rodgers) is terrible." Training camp his second season was even worse. Simms recalled thinking there was no way this guy was going to be an NFL quarterback. Even Favre reportedly was particularly brutal in ridiculing Rodger's numerous mistakes.

But sometime during that 2nd season, things began to change for Rodgers. He solidified his mechanical issues, to the point that when Phil made his annual Brett Favre pilgrimage to Packer training camp in the former Cal star's 3rd season, Aaron Rodgers was a completely different thrower. "He went from a 3 to a 10," said Mr. Simms. Phil distinctly remembered noticing that Favre wasn't picking on Rodgers anymore. Some of the receivers for the Packers labeling Rodgers the Human JUGS Machine because of his astounding accuracy had to be a bit of a warning to Favre.

You might ask, what does this have to do with the Seahawks? Well, a few things. With Rodgers' 24th place selection, the fact that the Seahawks could have easily had him back then is obvious, but comparisons with our 25th selection this year are unavoidable. There are several prospects at the QB position who could be first round prospects, but every one of them lacks experience in some way, much as Rodgers did when he came out of college. Even Jake Locker, the senior prospect, only has two years in a real quarterback learning environment. Cam Newton arguably has ZERO experience in an NFL environment, and Ryan Mallett is an underclassman, as is Blaine Gabbert. One could logically say that they are in the same boat as Rodgers - they have potential, but will require patience. Fans are not required to have patience, but good coaching staffs had better.

So ask yourself, if one of them lasts until 25, and is selected by the Seahawks, how long will it be until you are calling for them to start? And how long will it be before they are actually ready to start? Because those two moments could be very different realities.


  1. One would hope for the Seahawks sake, that they could reproduce the magic that allowed Rodgers to become the player he is today. I wouldn't mind getting a 1st round QB in here and either have Matt, Charlie or some TBD bridge QB keep him on the sideline for a season or two.

    The push to get him on the field should be less, since he wouldn't have been a top-5 pick. Let him come in and if he deserves to start, do it. Otherwise see if you can bring along a 1st rounder, allowing him to pick up his game behind a vet. Hopefully there will be a good QB coach coming in, who can provide the guidance to get the young QB up to game speed in a year or so.

    Nice writeup with a interesting point to ponder.

  2. There's examples on each side. Some QB's have developed into franchise leaders despite being played right away, others have benefited from sitting a year or two. But it's hard to tell whether their situations were the best track for them, or whether an alternate scenario would have helped.

    New OC Darrell Bevell has a reputation as a QB developer, so I'm hopeful that whoever it is will get good mentoring. But I don't think a late first-rounder has any less of an impetus to start as a 1st-round pick. Either way, a top QB has to be thrown in, and fans must be patient with him - starter or not.

    The wild card is Matt Hasselbeck. Fans may overrate the "mentor" aspect, and in fact Hass may push a new QB onto the bench - maybe even deservedly. Who knows?