One would be hard-pressed to find an optimistic 12th Man this week.
The injury list continues to grow; new players seem to be getting hurt faster than others are recovering. Just one glance at the weekly injury report triggers memories from last season, when the Seahawks struggled to stay healthy and finished the season 4-12.
In addition to the injuries, the Seahawks are already 1-2 on the young season. Last Sunday, the team suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Chicago Bears – only painful because even with several starters absent, the Seahawks still had several chances to win the game.
And to finish the first quarter of the season, the Seahawks travel to Indianapolis this Sunday for a matchup against Peyton Manning and the Colts.
No Matt Hasselbeck. No Walter Jones. No Leroy Hill, Marcus Trufant, or Sean Locklear. No chance?
That is probably the case. Not only are the Seahawks on the road, but they’re also facing a very good Indianapolis team.
The Colts beat the Cardinals 31-10 last week, embarrassing them at their home field in Arizona. The Colts are also 3-0, and Peyton Manning’s passer rating of 117.7 is second only to Drew Brees in the entire National Football League.
This Sunday could be a very long afternoon for both the Seahawks and their fans.
But there are a couple of things to be optimistic about. The Seahawks may not be as unfortunate as people think without Matt Hasselbeck. Quarterback Seneca Wallace, who made his first start of the season last week against Chicago, may offer some hope.
Sure, this team is undoubtedly better with Matt Hasselbeck under center. And without Hasselbeck on the field, the team’s chances of winning are dramatically reduced.
But if there is anything optimistic to say about Seneca Wallace, he always performs better in his second start. He is a backup quarterback, but he is a capable player in the National Football League. And if he improves on last week’s performance, it might be enough to give the Seahawks some hope this Sunday.
Last week, Seneca Wallace threw for a career-high 261 yards and one touchdown. He also threw one interception and missed several open reads during the game. But if history is an indicator of what to expect this Sunday, his box score performance will be much better against the Colts.
In 2006, Matt Hasselbeck was injured against the Minnesota Vikings when linebacker E.J. Henderson rolled under his knee. Hasselbeck would miss several weeks, and Seneca Wallace stepped in as his replacement.
Wallace’s first game in 2006 was against the Kansas City Chiefs on the road. He completed half of his passes for 198 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.
In the following game against the Oakland Raiders, Wallace threw for only 176 yards and one touchdown, but did not throw an interception an completed 60 percent of his passes.
Last season, Matt Hasselbeck struggled with a bulging disk in his back that kept him from playing more than half the season. Seneca Wallace, who struggled with his own minor injuries, started eight games as his replacement.
Wallace’s first game was against the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Seattle’s entire offense struggled as Wallace only threw for 73 yards and a touchdown. He completed just over half of his throws, and also threw one interception.
The next week, Wallace started at San Francisco against the 49ers. The offense was much better this game, as Wallace completed 60 percent of his passes and threw for 222 yards. He also had two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
So what should we expect from Seneca Wallace against Indianapolis? If he continues to improve at the same rate from his first start to the second, Wallace will throw for nearly 400 yards and a touchdown against the Colts.
That may be a little optimistic and impractical, but I would expect at least some improvement from Wallace.
He may not match the career-highs established last week; Wallace probably won’t throw for more than 261 yards. And he probably won’t exceed his completion percent from last week.
But I would expect Wallace to cut down his turnovers, improve his decision-making and reads, and efficiently direct Seattle’s offense. He isn’t going to single-handedly win the game, but he shouldn’t make the same errors he did the previous week, or miss open receivers down the field.
I don’t like Seattle’s chances in Indianapolis, even as a positive homer fan. But for those of you looking for optimism, you should look no farther than the quarterback position.
If the defense can stop Indy’s offense (good luck) and Seattle’s running game is successful enough to control the clock, Seneca Wallace might provide enough offense to upset the Colts.
After all, that is why the games are played. Any given Sunday.