Well gang, here we are again with a team who for all intents and purposes is out of post season competition with 7 games to be played. How we play the next 7 games will have a bearing on what happens next season. Last season, Holmgren refused to play younger players (unless he had no choice) and played to win the remaining games by playing all the veterans he had available. The fact that it was his last season might have had something to do with that stance but for Jim Mora, next season will be even more important that this one was to his career.
We all had the debate last year over whether it was better to try to win all the games you could at the end of this season as a sort of bridge to next season with the thinking that such momentum carries over. The other train of thought is that you’re better off playing younger players who don’t have much game experience and next season you will have gained much by the fact that you have more players with game experience. Make no mistake about it, game experience brings a player along faster by far than any other single method but those players are less likely to win games now.
Last year there was an article here on SA which I can’t find right now but it revealed a detailed study of just those two trains of thought. It was found out that teams who won their last two or three games and built momentum for next season didn’t fare as well as those who played their younger players and ended up with a more experienced team the following season even though they didn’t win as many games. The difference was substantial and virtually all the teams who had big turnarounds except one if I remember correctly did so with more experienced players who got that experience at the end of the previous season when their team was out of the playoffs.
Some of our players got that kind of experience particularly offensive linemen when our veteran players went on IR and Holmgren had no choice but to play them. Vallos, Williams, Wrotto, Adams, and Hawthorne all got valuable experience at the end of last season to name a few and all of them lauded the experience as a huge stepping stone in their ability to come in this season and view the game from a more veteran status. Most of them said the game had slowed down for them and they felt better prepared and ready to compete coming into training camp at the start of this season.
Mora has a chance to get players like Schmitt, Butler, Forsett, Rankin, Obomanu, Teel, Morrah, Reed, and Walker some valuable game experience this season which could propel some of those players to challenge for a starting spot or first line backup position next season instead of getting a little bit of game time here and there over the next two or three seasons and taking that long to develop into a useful player. I think it would be a great idea to give Teel some game time in the fourth quarters and see if we need to draft a quarterback of the future or if we have him already on the roster. You can find out faster and with a higher level of confidence that what you’re seeing is real if Teel’s playing against real competition in real games.
Of course, playing the younger guys means that Seattle will probably lose more games than if we play our best players every game. That’s the trade off this season. We all know the silver lining in that scenario is that we end up with a better draft choice if that happens as well as having players who may help us next season versus taking longer to get their NFL legs under them. However, what some see as a win/win situation is repugnant to others because we may lose another game or two that we could have won and they see that as tanking the game even if all the players are giving it their all to win but lose because they are outmatched.
So how do you Addicts feel about the practice of giving younger players significant game time in preparation for next season? How bothered would you be at this point if Teel came into the game in the fourth quarter with the team leading by a touchdown and lost the game through throwing a pick due to inexperience? That might be exactly what Teel needed to learn to avoid that throw in the future but at the expense of a win in a season where all the post season opportunities are already lost anyway. Could you live with that? Are we under an obligation to try to win every game we can for the rest of this season regardless of the lack of preparation that may provide for next season or are we only under the obligation to try our damndest to win every game we can with the personnel we choose to play knowing that we are preparing players for the following season where we still have a chance at the playoffs? What does your rightness/wrongness meter say on that decision?
A lot of us didn’t believe that we would be in this stiuation again this season but here we are anyway. Injury played a big part again in us getting to where we are at the present time but we all saw the team minus Walt Jones last Sunday that Mora and Ruskell built coming out of training camp perform against Arizona and despite a good showing in the first half, overall, we can all agree that we’re not there yet. One thing we need for sure are a handful of players to upgrade the offensive line, the defensive line and defensive backfield problems. The other thing that couldn’t hurt would be to give our younger unproven players a chance to develop into players quicker who will give Seattle the talent needed to turn the corner.