CBS Sports NFL columnist Clark Judge joins the legion of national football reporters who believe how successful the Seattle Seahawks will be in 2009 will be determined by the health of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Judge believes the Hawks will be improved this season, but that Seattle will go as Hasselbeck goes. Take a look:
So far, there is no reason to believe Hasselbeck can't make it through next season, but as coach Jim Mora explained the other day you never know about injuries -- especially back injuries. A sore back sidelined Hasselbeck for more than half the season a year ago, with predictable results: The Seahawks finished third in a division they won the previous four years and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Granted, Hasselbeck wasn't the only guy sitting down. The Seahawks were so depleted at wide receiver they started 10 of them. Star left tackle Walter Jones finished the season on injured reserve. So did guard Mike Wahle. So, for that matter, did offensive linemen Chris Gray, Chris Spencer, Rob Sims and Sean Locklear. Leading pass rusher Patrick Kerney didn't make it through the entire season. In fact, he didn't make it through half a season. He missed the final nine games.
I think you get the idea. The Seahawks had nearly as many injuries as Seattle has coffee joints. But it is Hasselbeck who concerns me most, largely because you hear of so many athletes whose careers are shortened or ended by back problems -- particularly athletes in their 30s -- and Hasselbeck turns 34 in September.
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Also, the Sporting News continues its positional rankings with quarterback today, ranking Hasselbeck 11th overall, just a step behind Tony Romo at No. 10. I don't know how you could rank someone who hasn't won a playoff game ahead of another player who has taken his team to a Super Bowl, but there it is. Otherwise, I think the rankings are pretty solid.
Dave Boling posted his column in an earlier post, but in case you missed it, Boling says that former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren perhaps should remain silent in his year off from the league.
Greg Johns of Seattlepi.com offers his thoughts on Holmgren's latest comments.
Josh Morgan of Field Gulls looks back at Leroy Hill's 2008 season.
Football Outsiders previews the NFC West here (hat tip to Field Gulls).
ESPN's John Clayton lists the Seahawks as one of his teams he expects to shock the league this season. Clayton predicted a five-game improvement over last season's 4-12 record for Seattle.
Casey Greer of the Bleacher Report says that Seattle's offensive and defensive scheme changes could lead to more losses for the Hawks.
Ex-Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander talks to a Bay Area radio station KNBR about the Hawks' Super Bowl experience and the way he ended his career in Seattle.