At the end of the play, Tubbs
got off the turf slowly and required assistance to get to the sidelines. As the
Seahawks’ staff worked on the problem, the frustration on Tubbs’ face
was evident. And as he was carted off the field, eyes closed in disillusion and
dismay, it was easy to assume that the former first-round defensive tackle’s
season was in jeopardy.
Now we know why. The
diagnosis, reported by several sources, is a torn right ACL (anterior cruciate
ligament) and that’s not the knee that caused Tubbs to miss eleven games
in 2006 and undergo microfracture surgery. Nothing is official yet, and it won’t
be until the team makes an official announcement, but optimism was hard to find
in Seattle’s locker room after the game.
In his three professional
seasons, Tubbs has played in 29 of a possible 48 regular-season games. In the
eleven games he missed in 2006, the Seahawks allowed 147 rushing yards per game
and 4.8 yards per carry. Those numbers plummeted when Tubbs was available –
down to 82 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry when he was in. It’s
not often that you can so drastically quantify the value of one defensive player
in a team game such as football, but the numbers don’t lie. Tubbs was
Seattle’s only run-stopping interior lineman last season.
It’s hard, it’s
very, very hard,” Holmgren continued. “He worked so hard to come
back (from November knee surgery), and was looking forward to playing. He’s
just one of those players, it happens, where you have a very talented player
that can’t get on the field. Call it unlucky, call it whatever. The injury
bug has prevented him from reaching his potential on the field. He was hurting
in there, other than the knee injury. I feel bad for him.”
The exact nature of Tubbs
other "hurtings” are unknown, but Tubbs did seem to be adjusting
to game speed in the preseason. He looked fairly quick in his first game back
against the Vikings last Saturday, but he was unable to do much against Oakland,
as the Raiders’ strategy seemed to be to wall Tubbs off and run the other
The Seahawks selected Cal’s
Brandon Mebane in the third round of the 2007
draft in part to provide another interior presence against the run. So far,
Mebane has been the one who has provided penetration, who has made the plays,
who has been the difference.
For Mebane, this is opportunity
time. For Marcus Tubbs and the coaches, teammates
and fans who were hoping for the best, there's nothing left to do but wonder
what might have been.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football
Outsiders, and a contributing author to Pro
Football Prospectus 2007. Feel free to e-mail him here.