SEATTLE — Twelve weeks into the season and the Seahawks’ quarterback picture is as hazy as ever.
Jon Kitna isn’t the answer for the future, but then we’ve known that for some time.
Brock Huard might have been the answer, but after Sunday’s game, he’s more a question than an answer: Will he be able to play again this season?
And if he does play, will the football gods be kinder to him than they have been in the last month or so?
We know that life in the NFL can be cruel. But what has happened to Huard is ridiculously harsh.
"All I would say is he’s been very unlucky," understated Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, after Sunday’s 38-31 loss to the Denver Broncos in rainy Husky Stadium.
On a day when he was returning to the starting lineup after missing three weeks with a concussion, Huard was hammered to the turf by linebacker John Mobley late in the second quarter. The second-year pro out of the University of Washington didn’t get up right away, but after a timeout, he was able to resume his workday, completing a 40-yard pass to Derrick Mayes, then running three more plays before the Seahawks were forced to punt.
He would not take another snap. When the Seahawks offense next took the field, with 6:26 remaining in the second quarter, Kitna was the quarterback and Huard was in the locker room. The postgame prognosis: a bruised kidney. How that will affect him the rest of the season we may not know until Holmgren meets with the media this afternoon.
"It doesn’t appear that Brock will be able to come back in too soon," the coach said minutes after the game. "Certainly Jon appears to be the guy next week right now."
Huard isn’t the kind of guy to ask, why me? But nobody would be more justified asking that question than he.
We know life isn’t fair, but this is absurd. He’s had four NFL starts — all this season — and three injuries. Two have disabled him.
On the play that knocked him out of Sunday’s game, Mobley came free on the left side and had a clear path to the quarterback.
He hit Huard with a sledgehammer-like jolt. "Taking a shot like that is terrible," Kitna said, "but it is part of the game."
Kitna knows. He also knows that it took "courage" for Huard to finish out the possession.
Huard was alone in the backfield but he, according to Holmgren, was responsible for the "extra pass rusher (Mobley)." In other words, take off and run. But do something other than stand there and act like a human punching bag. "To survive in this league," said guard Pete Kendall, "sometimes you have to think about saving your ass."
"He (Huard) made a young mistake and paid for it," Holmgren said.
Kitna begged to differ slightly with his coach. "They gave us a defense we hadn’t seen, in fairness to Brock," he said.
Whatever the breakdown, whoever was responsible, the results were the same: bad.
Back in his starting role Sunday, Huard would have five weeks to convince Holmgren he has what it takes to be considered the quarterback of the future. Then — the bad football gods struck again.
Six weeks ago, Huard had given his coach reason for optimism, completing 19 of 26 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-24 loss to Indianapolis. All he had to do was keep it going. The next week, against Oakland, he suffered the concussion. The optimisim was put on hold.
Holmgren knows some things about Huard from watching him in practice and in the four games he’s started — all losses. He knows that he has a strong arm. He knows that he’s a bright kid. Unfortunately, he also knows that he’s prone to injury.
Now it could be that Kitna, who appears not to have a future with this team, might be the starting quarterback for … well, for who knows how long the rest of the season?
As for next year …
It’s anybody’s guess who’ll be lining up behind the center. But the Seahawks have to go out and get a veteran quarterback, someone who can come in and take over and meet the high standards of the demanding Holmgren. Someone who can get this team back into a contending position in the AFC West. Someone who can survive the cruel life that an NFL quarterback is subject to. Someone, perhaps, who has been luckier than most.
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