Another Bad Dream: Tubbs Out For the Season

It was a simple little run play, the kind that Marcus Tubbs has defended successfully hundreds of times since his days at DeSoto High School. The aftereffects, however, were not so simple. With 4:25 left in the first quarter of Seattle's 19-14 win over the Oakland Raiders, Oakland's Dominic Rhodes ran up the middle for five yards.

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 way.

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. Top Stories