STACY ROST

Are Seahawks really not Super Bowl contenders because of QB?

Mar 27, 2024, 10:35 AM

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith quarterback...

Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to a 2023 game against Pittsburgh. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

One of the most interesting topics in sports to me is also the one hardest to answer: How do you build a championship team?

What we’ve learned about Seattle Seahawks from draft experts

You could always find a franchise, Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s easy, right? That’s the biggest part of the recipe for the New England Patriots dynasty with Tom Brady and the Kansas City Chiefs’ run with Patrick Mahomes. Those players hide flaws, soften edges, and elevate a good team to a great one.

It’s why some Seattle Seahawks fans are hoping the team can tap into a special passer with the No. 16 pick this year. Why spend every resource building a perfect team when you can just find one perfect player?

But anything less than greatness – even from greats – needs backup. And it’s been a path for others.

Peyton Manning made it to the Super Bowl the season he threw 55 touchdowns (a record that still stands), but his Denver Broncos lost to the Seahawks. Instead, he claimed his second title in Super Bowl 50 thanks to an elite defense. Still, that’s a Hall of Famer.

Worse quarterbacks have certainly won. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens offense famously went five weeks without scoring a touchdown and Trent Dilfer never surpassed 200 passing yards in a playoffs, but they went on to win Super Bowl XXXV thanks to one of the best defenses the league has ever seen.

You could, of course, point to a second-year Russell Wilson in Seattle. While it was clear early in his career that he was a dynamic player, he was also bolstered by a Seahawks defense that led the league in scoring for four consecutive seasons (and led the team to a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII).

So, when you say you need a special quarterback, keep in mind it hasn’t been the path for every championship team – though certainly has been for any dynasty (not that there are many to point to).

It’s natural to question whether current Seahawks starter Geno Smith can be that guy for Seattle. One expert, FOX Sports’ Joel Klatt, did as much when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk this week.

FOX Sports’ Klatt: Seattle Seahawks’ quarterbacks ‘are not the answer’

“The Seahawks are not a Super Bowl contender right now. They’re just not. And they don’t have the requisite quarterback play to do that,” Klatt said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Well, Russell wasn’t that when they won the Super Bowl.’ And to some extent, yes, that’s true. But also, think of how cheap Russell was and the roster that they had around him … Seattle doesn’t have that right now. They don’t have the roster around an average quarterback to go compete with San Francisco.”

Klatt is right and wrong here. Seattle didn’t win a Super Bowl because they had Wilson on the cheap and spent around him; they won a Super Bowl because they built an amazing roster over three draft classes (2010, 2011 and 2012). Most of Seattle’s key starters – with the exception of a few guys like Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril – were on rookie contracts.

But he’s absolutely right that in order to win with an average quarterback, you need an above-average roster. And the Seahawks don’t have that right now.

Smith is not an elite starting quarterback. He’s not Mahomes, he’s not Brady, he’s not one of the league’s young emerging stars. But he’s the best option Seattle has this year. I don’t know whether the Seahawks can win a Super Bowl with Smith in 2024, but we know they can’t win one without him this season.

What feels more important for Seattle now is building that roster out. Because Klatt is right; they need a better one to compete with the best team in their division. I don’t even know that presumed No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams – while special – could come onto this team and help it rise above a defense that floundered against the run and has been searching for a double-digit sack defender since 2018, nor an offensive line that lost three of its 2023 starters this offseason.

Eventually, Seattle will need to find its long-term answer at quarterback on a rookie deal, and that’s a path that could end soon or go on for years like with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets. But in a month’s time, all they need to do is get better, and that journey doesn’t start under center.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

Seahawks Draft Profile: Pros, cons of UW DE Bralen Trice
Seahawks Draft Profile: Penn State’s eye-opening TE
One Seahawks coach Bumpus is most interested to see at work
Huard: The common theme for Seahawks’ defensive signings
Seattle Seahawks GM Schneider on if Sam Howell impacts their draft

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