The Tale of Two Quarterbacks

| January 9th, 2011

Boston College’s Matt Hasselbeck (who now wants to go by Matthew) was drafted in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL Draft by Packers head coach Mike Holmgren, the only man to attend his pro day.  He signed to the practice squad and became one of many backups to Richard Photographs before following Holmgren to Seattle and embarking on one of the most underrated NFL careers in recent memory.  Three Pro Bowls.  One All-Pro selection.  One conference championship.  And he was robbed of a Super Bowl ring by the gentlemen with the yellow flags in their pockets.

Vanderbilt’s Jay Cutler was the eleventh overall selection in he 2006 Draft, earning the admiration of Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan with his intelligence and superior arm strength.  He became the starter almost immediately, replacing the ineffective and (it turns out crazy) Jake Plummer.  He was selected to the 2008 Pro Bowl .  But 2010 was his first winning season as a full-time starter and he is now poised to do what so few have done in navy and orange: quarterback the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl.

We can break down (and we will) this Bears/Seahawks game for the next six days but ultimately it will be decided by the two signal callers.  The Bears have the better defense and special teams.  The Bears have the better run game.  This Sunday, at Soldier Field, it will be these two quarterbacks who decide the 2010 fate of their franchises.  Can Hasselbeck continue his magic and improve upon what was the finest performance of his career, Saturday against the Saints?  Can Cutler refrain from the type of turnover that will keep the door open to the ten-point underdog ‘Hawks?  Cutler doesn’t have to be brilliant Sunday for the Bears to win.  He has to be mistake-free.  He has to be efficient.  Hasselbeck has to be great.  He has to be flawless.  

It is the great internal drama of Sunday’s almost-improbable contest between the Seahawks and Bears.  (In fact many of you criticized my writing a piece last week analyzing Seattle as a potential opponent.)  These two quarterbacks, one on the last year of his contract in the great northwest and one at the beginning of what will hopefully be a long tenure in Chicago, fighting conventional wisdom and expectations to lead their team into a position no one believed possible at the start of the season.
Bears fans must hope the kid from Vanderbilt sends the old man from Boston College to an early retirement.