As if the point needed further proof, the first two rounds of NFL playoffs solidified the premise that success is a function of quarterback play.
The lesson? If you’ve got a quarterback, keep him, protect him, and build around him. And if you don’t have one, you still might succeed, but only if you have one of the best defenses in the league.
Does any of this apply in Seattle? Sure. An easy interpretation might be this: Unless a complete rebuilding is necessary, they might be wise to not get hasty about pulling the plug on Matt Hasselbeck.
The value of the quarterback is obvious, but even more in the postseason.
The quarterbacks in the upcoming conference championship games include the top two rated passers this season: New Orleans’ Drew Brees (109.6) and Minnesota’s Brett Favre (107.2). A third is Peyton Manning of Indianapolis, the league MVP. The fourth is New York Jets rookie Mark Sanchez, who has managed to not get in the way of the league’s No. 1-rated defense.
Of the eight teams to make the second round, six had top-10 rated quarterbacks.
And 25 percent of those – Favre (age 40) and Arizona’s Kurt Warner (38) – would normally be considered geriatric in their profession, and, at times along the way, were considered ready to be put to pasture.
Instead, they’re at the top of their game.
And for Favre, a three-time MVP, that’s saying a great deal. Favre had a 134.4 passer rating and threw a postseason career-high four touchdown passes in the 34-3 pasting of Dallas last weekend.
Still showing his unparalleled competitiveness and creativity, and perfect placement on deep balls, Favre could have carried the Vikings by himself. But the larger point is, he hasn’t had to.
Once again operating behind a talented offensive line, on a team with a rugged defense, Favre put together the highest postseason passer rating of his celebrated career.
Warner took a beating against the Saints and was sent to the bench after a wicked hit on an interception.
The previous week, he threw five touchdown passes in a win over Green Bay. Connecting on 29 of 33 attempts for 379 yards, Warner threw more touchdowns than incompletions and registered the second-highest passer rating (154.1) in postseason history.
Doubters of Hasselbeck can point to the fact that he’s 34 and has had a two-season slump when he’s been injured and somewhat ineffective, and unable to personally lift the Seahawks out of their losing ways.
Well, Favre twice went through two-season skids when his passer rating dipped and stayed in the 70s.
Warner, did, too, in 2002-03. Injuries or the lack of talented supporting players, or the presence of a younger prospect, led him to bounce from St. Louis to the New York Giants and finally down to Arizona, where he managed to take over control of the team even though the Cards used a first-round pick on USC’s Matt Leinart in ’06.
Brees, too, has been spectacular after not being re-signed by San Diego after the ’05 season. He was coming off a shoulder injury and the Chargers had acquired promising rookie Philip Rivers.
The Chargers and Rivers have won four straight AFC West titles since then, so they’ve done well, but Brees has been All-Pro three times and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2008.
Which team made out better in the Brees/Rivers move is open to fair debate, but Brees is one win away from being the first quarterback to take the Saints to a Super Bowl.
Few would contend that Hasselbeck is Favre or Manning, or even Brees or Warner, but he is nonetheless a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and when he was at his best, the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl.
Those guys are rare, and you’re going to have to have one if you want to get back.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440