Saturday, July 30, 2011

Grading Seattle's Free Agency: Offense

Tarvaris Jackson (#7): C+

Signing the former Minnesota backup isn't exactly a coup in and of itself. Despite his tools, starting experience, and spotty handling by Brad Childress, the fact is that Jackson struggled in Minnesota despite being protected by an awesome offense. He's a popular example of how a good team doesn't necessarily elevate a bad QB.

But the signing looks better when you compare it against the other options. Seattle could have overpaid for Kevin Kolb, risked Vince Young, courted the Carroll-misfit Kyle Orton, or become the next victim of Donovan McNabb. Instead, they went for the best combination of value, experience, cost, and system familiarity in Tarvaris Jackson. His 2-year, $8 million contract leaves Seattle free to keep looking without settling for Derek Anderson-type ineptitude in the present. Jackson should be a little better than that.

I am a little surprised that Carroll just up and handed Jackson the starting spot based on system familiarity. But it's not as if Charlie Whitehurst was likely to pick up the new system with such a short time to practice. Call it "lockout fallout". Hee hee.

Sidney Rice (#18): A-

So much for Schneider's reputation of avoiding free agency, eh? After chasing but ultimately abandoning Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson, Seattle finally has their big-play guy.

Whenever I investigate a new free agent, one thing I'll often do is browse forums of his old team to get a feel for popular opinion of him. Fans aren't always the best source of objective analysis, but neither are they completely worthless. There's always smart guys mixed in. (Hint: If you want to stand out amongst the rabble and noise of an NFL forum, at least use good capitalization and punctuation. And don't speak in empty, simplistic absolutes like "OMG that guy sux, good riddance".)

Anyway, the debate over Rice amongst Vikings fans seems to boil down to one of two things: 1. he's fragile, and 2. did he make Brett Favre in 2009, or did Favre make him? There's a distinct "sour grapes" feel to the proceedings, so that tells us something. Rice passed his physical. Favre declined without him. He's got all the tools, including the intangibles, to be a deep threat. And the tape shows him being one.

My take: Seattle wins. Good QB's elevate bad WR's much more than vice versa, but Rice has the potential to make life at least a little easier for the offense. His deep speed and reliable catching will keep defenses honest instead of letting them stack the LOS and apply undue pressure on Jackson and the O-line. Mike Williams and the other receivers will see less coverage as well. Good receivers commonly create this kind of upward spiral effect.

That spiral won't be fully realized in Seattle until a true QB comes along, of course. But Rice's youth and his history with Seahawks (and formerly Vikings) OC Darrell Bevell give the team some time to find one. This is an excellent signing.

Robert Gallery (#72): B+

Gallery was a bust at left tackle in Oakland before he revived his career by moving inside to guard. It's one of the O-line revolutions commonly credited to Tom Cable, who's now flogging Seattle's O-line to greater heights. His experience will be welcome on this wet-behind-the-ears line, as will the strength and mobility that make him a solid run blocker. His pass protection is iffy though improving, but with mobile QB's now playing in Seattle, that's slightly less of a concern.

For those with visions of Mike Wahle and Ben Hamilton dancing in their heads, fear not. Gallery is younger, healthier, and cheaper than either of those guys were when signed. His contract is for a modest three years. Overall, the team most likely stands to improve from this.

Tyler Polumbus (#78): A-
Quality depth at multiple positions. Carroll and Schneider are better at every imaginable aspect of O-line stewardship than Tim Ruskell ever was. And anyone willing to race 67 yards downfield and block for a running back is a winner in my book.

Michael Robinson (#26): B

I wouldn't assume that Robinson is meant to be the primary fullback. Another could easily be signed (Vonta Leach has been named as a candidate). In the meantime, however, Seattle has retained Robinson's vastly underrated blocking, special-teams prowess, and veteran leadership. Good move.

Matt Hasselbeck (to Titans): B+

John Schneider's recent comments indicate that allowing Hasselbeck to walk in free agency was not done lightly. I'm glad they appreciated the gravity of losing the face of the franchise and the experience and familiarity that came with him. I do think there were worse QB options than keeping Hasselbeck.

But still, it shows that Carroll and Schneider are able to make the tough business calls that reflect a good NFL franchise. That encourages me more than anything else I've seen from this front office. It sucks that it came at Matt's expense, but for me it was never about Matt. It was about moving forward.

Stacy Andrews (cut): B

I was still thinking that Andrews might provide good competition at the right tackle spot, where he started his career fairly well. Perhaps his decline is absolute, rather than position-related. Or maybe he was just too expensive, I dunno. I suppose Ray Willis becomes depth now. At least we'll have fewer dumb red zone penalties. 

Chris White (cut): I

I don't know who this guy is.

Next time, the exciting conclusion: defense and special teams!


  1. Not Chris White! OMG, Schneider sux for cutting him. He was, like, the face of the franchise!

    I think Tarvaris' quick feet should be a good thing while this very young and inexperienced offensive line comes together.

    Jackson's elevation to starter does not bode well for Whitehurst. Tarvaris can't even take a snap for 5 days, and he is the starter already. Since Bevell was originally going to stick with the same playbook Whitehurst used last year, the switch to Bevell's own playbook would indicate that they don't think too much of Whitehurst. Of course, the fact that they had to use a limited playbook for Whitehurst after 17 weeks last year didn't bode well for him.

  2. The Seahawks need a Quarterback of the future. They know that an aging veteran is not the answer and is only delaying the inevitable. They did not like anyone they saw in the draft enough to justify the pick. The quarterbacks in this draft were mediocre. You cannot completely rebuild a team in one year. They have done a good job in rebuilding the supporting cast. They are hoping to get their quarterback of the future in the upcoming draft. A quality veteran quarterback might ruin the opportunity to get a quarterback in a very good quarterback draft.

  3. That's pretty much exactly what I said. :)

  4. Based on the latest news about Lofa Tatupu, is it too soon to put Michael Robinson in the frame to play MLB - he does seem to thrive on new season, new position :-)

  5. I am very unhappy with the way this season is turning out. Obviously I like the addition of Rice, but we have the same defense as before (without Tatupu) and I do not feel that Carrol is giving us a chance to even compete in games.

  6. They are banking on steps forward from ET, Chancellor, Thurmond, Curry, and others. Mebane being moved back to the 1-tech is huge. Red Bryant will hopefully have a healthier season. The depth was improved, particularly at corner. It is mostly the same on paper, but the defense is young with some potential.

  7. Jackson does feel like the least-bad option we had this year. The rest of the offense looks great.

  8. I'm not sold on Jackson, or Carroll for that matter. My concern is he's made 2 steps forward in picking up new guys and then made 3 steps back on the QB position.
    Tarvaris is far from a proven starter (thus why he's been sitting on the bench for 2 years while grandpa Farve played) and the line about him knowing the offense because he used to work with Bevell, again I call BS on there being any upside to that logic. If anything we know that combo didn't work well, so why try it again? Of course time will only tell (or prove as I fear in this case). It's gonna suck watching this guy throw more interceptions than Hasselbeck was throwing, especially since keeping Hasselbeck was our best QB bet for this season when looking at all of the other viable options. At least that's my opinion on it.
    A lot of people are on the Carroll band wagon because he didn't get completely cut out at the knees last year, even though our record sucked! I'm not sold by that snake oil yet. I really feel he and the rest of the front office mishandled the QB options for Seattle this year which takes away from any good he's done with the other positions. If the QB sucks, there isn't much having a good O-Line or decent receivers can do to fix that. I'm not saying keeping Matt was the final fix to our QB problems, but anyone trying to say Jackson is at this point needs to share what they are smoking because that math doesn't add up. The guy is a walking, talking reminder of what we put up with when Whitehurst was on the field last year. Anyone who says different really needs to start sharing those drugs (god knows there aren't any stats to back it up).

  9. I've beaten this same drum often myself, Anonymous - that Carroll hasn't earned our unquestioning trust yet. To be sure, he can preach "Always Compete" all he wants, but the only mantra that will ultimately give him success in Seattle is "Find a Franchise Quarterback".

  10. This rebuild cannot all happen in 1 year or a few off-seasons. With Jackson at QB this season as a placeholder, Carroll has given himself and the team time to get many other positions in order and ready for when the QBOTF (Qb of the future) is aquired. Hass was not interested in returning for 1 year, so the idea that he was our best option as "Anonymous" stated a few posts above is in my opinion incorrect or misleading.
    I dont believe Jackson was brought in to be our franchise QB of the future but merely to bridge the gap for this season with a change in the offense.
    I for one, have bought into the Carroll and current front office strategy or way of doing things and for the first time in a long time, we are seeing an entire roster being built for a strong lasting future and not just the 22 "starting positions" many fans focus on.

  11. I'm still seeing contradicting statements over why exactly Hass left. Length of contract, guaranteed money, etc.