At The Matchups Zone our goal is to provide a variety of Seahawks related content for our 12th man! We are dedicated to finding ways to offer a little something for everyone. With that goal serving as our motivation, beginning this week we’ll be offering up a segment called:The Point After. The Point After will address a specific aspect of a player (or player related event) and offer up a perspective that might otherwise get lost in a general game recap. As with all things in The Matchups Zone, we hope you enjoy. We know there are a lot of great places to read about our ‘Hawks; we just hope that we’ll soon become one of your favorites!
The Point After — Preseason; Game 1: Josh Portis and the Rebound Effect by Drew Bales
Whether you are relieved and choreographing a new version of the happy dance, drowning in your own personal pool of despair, or entirely indifferent to his having left, Matt Hasselbeck’s departure as the Seahawks quarterback has significantly changed the look and foundation of the ‘Hawks. For the past decade Hasselbeck was a near constant figure as our quarterback. Now our fixture is wearing a new uniform and throwing passes in a zip code several thousand miles to our southeast.
When relationships end (and this point holds true even when relationships need to end) there is often a visceral and almost reflexive move to find a replacement; to find a rebound to help soften the landing. In this case some Seahawks fans are looking to 15 minutes of play (against second and third string defensive personnel) as a preview of the next decade; wishfully trying to make an 8 out of a 13. Seattle, meet Josh Portis.
I get it; I really do. Like most fans, I want that longshot genius player who no one saw coming. We don’t just want him to play for the ‘Hawks, but we want the rest of the league to know just how wrong they were for not taking a chance on him. We want him to be “the guy” the future of our team, the one that everyone else overlooked. It is easy to want Josh Portis to be that guy. At 6’3” he’s got prototypical size for the position, and no one is questioning his raw athletic abilities. In the Seahawks first preseason game against the San Diego Chargers Portis was 5 of 9 for 69 yards and a touchdown which earned him a QB rating of 117.4. After enduring a case of early jitters Portis relaxed and began to throw accurately while showing good mobility and an overall awareness that at the very least made him look competent and in control of the offense. Put simply; he looked comfortable. At this stage however, that is all it takes for some fans to start asking a thousand questions about Portis that begin with: what if? What if he’s destined to be great? What if he is really given a chance? What if he’s our quarterback of the future? And on and on it goes….
The more pressing and appropriate “what if” questions are rarely asked by those who so badly want to champion an underdog longshot like Portis: what if he had been playing against a first rate defensive line? What if he’d been throwing against a first team secondary? What if some of the guys he threw against were soon going to be looking for jobs? Those in on the Josh Portis rebound wave off those questions with sly smile. They know he’s the guy.
They know because they know Hasselbeck isn’t coming back until his number is hoisted into the Ring of Honor. They know because they have watched Tarvaris Jackson maintain little more than average for years now, and they know because while they might think Charlie Whitehurst a good guy, they simply cannot picture him hoisting a Lombardi Trophy over his head. They know because others have come from obscurity to become incredibly good NFL players. They know about undrafted RB Ryan Grant, LB Bart Scott, LB London Fletcher, DT Pat Williams, K Adam Vinatieri, and Seahawks QB Dave Krieg who played for 19 seasons in the NFL.
And that is part of the reason that the Portis rebound is possible and why it is at the same time unhealthy. It’s the not knowing about him that allows the dream to unfold. Even with very real flaws, his potential seems so very real. And it is easy to fall for that. But rebounds can quickly turn to letdowns when the weight of expectation becomes too much for sincere hope to handle. We should be pleased that Josh Portis is in camp. We should be pleased that he’s working with energetic and passionate coaches, and that he has some real targets to throw to. We should be encouraged by his physical gifts and his apparent passion for the game. There are lots of reasons to be happy that Josh Portis is a Seahawk, but few reasons to let that happiness morph into an unhealthy expectation that he’s going to step in and make us forget about Matt Hasselbeck. To expect more of him than what is reasonable is to miss the opportunity to watch him develop in a meaningful and realistic way and to realize what and who he is instead of who we so badly want him to be.
If you really want to cheer for and get behind Josh Portis, don’t expect more than is fair of a young guy trying to learn how to play with the best football players in the world. I’m content to cheer for the guy without abusing reality. In the meantime, welcome to Seattle Josh. There is no place in the NFL like Seattle, and no fans in the world quite like us.