Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Tarvaris Jackson, Part 1

Seattle fans are currently engaged in an Internet pissing match over with other fans across the league. We are energetically raving, rightfully so, over the spectacular free agency spree that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have just topped with the stunning theft of TE Zach Miller. Added to WR Sidney Rice, LG Robert Gallery, DT Brandon Mebane, RB Leon Washington back in February, and a variety of other secondary pieces, it's a juicy, well-priced, promising, and young haul that Seattle has reeled in. It's a great time to be part of the 12th Man.

The nation's knowing, snotty response?

"Hmm, who's your quarterback? Oh yeah...Tarvaris Jackson."

Immediately we're defensive. And ticked. It's hard to imagine the Seahawks' offense not being enhanced by this pulsating infusion of pure talent. Rice and Miller are big targets that will open up an offense already containing Mike Williams, Golden Tate, and John Carlson. Robert Gallery will inject some nastiness and veteran stability to the blocking for Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, and Leon Washington. It's the makings of an upward spiral that any NFL quarterback dreams to take advantage of.

Yet the national media and random fans are dismissing our every move as impotent, in the face of our dicey QB situation.

Are they stupid to do so?

They are not.

To be perfectly honest, they're right. Seattle's offense, more likely than not, won't approach elite status in 2011. They'll be young, bumpy, and growing-painsy.

Face it folks - the NFL is a quarterback's league. I hate to bust bubbles amongst my fellow Twelves, but this is reality. The QB is the one delivering the passes, making the calls, reading the defenses, selling the play-action, and organizing the players. The performance of every other player comes at the mercy of the QB's skill. The quarterback is the literal bottleneck of the offense, through which all surrounding talent has to flow in order to manifest. Bad QB's aren't elevated by good surrounding talent - they're exposed by it.

And Tarvaris Jackson himself is just one of many examples. I do believe we could have gotten worse at the position than him, but he's not dragging a poor reputation behind him for no reason. As a Viking, he was surrounded by sterling pass blocking, protected by an elite running game, and equipped with a buffet of solid receiving entrees. It didn't help. Jackson did enough, on one of the league's best offenses, to get them to a 9-7 playoff berth (in the 2008 NFC North) and then choked.

Sure, we want to make excuses about Minnesota's questionable handling of Jackson, and the time it takes a QB to develop, and the tools he has, and Bevell's system, and his chemistry with Sidney Rice, and the extra steps we've taken to protect him, and...




Does anyone else feel their "Oh, come on" reflex kicking in yet? That part of you that makes you feel like you're out on a dangerous limb of hope if you have to spend more than five minutes rationalizing? The simplest explanation is that Jackson's simply too sketchy for this offense to realize its full potential.

And I'm okay with that, for two reasons. A. Because we had no other options this year (which I'll address in Part 2), and B. because none of these free-agent moves require a QB right this second.

Rice, Miller, BMW, and the rest all have many years of football ahead of them. The line will need years to reach its xenith anyway. The defense can't help yet. We're in a rebuild, and rebuilds don't require immediate gratification. Every free-agent move you've seen so far this offseason - and every draft pick, for that matter - was made not with the present, but the future, in mind.

The future, and the next great Seahawks QB.

Eventually - I don't know when, or how, and I'm praying that Carroll isn't the type to content himself with middling free-agent QB's while ignoring the draft - eventually, that QB will come and the team will reap the benefits. These receivers will have a strong-armed, quick-reading, mobile, savvy, explosive QB throwing to them one day. The running game will find room from its most common source - good passing play - only for fans to find that they don't care about the run anymore because the pass is lighting it up just fine. The defense will enjoy better game situations as opposing offenses lose options while trying to keep up. The spiral ignites, momentum feeds momentum, everything comes together, championship.

On that day, a most-likely-to-be-mediocre-at-best 2011 season from Tarvaris Jackson will be justified.

But probably not until then. Our schedule will be challenging, though not for the reasons everyone expects. There is no way the NFC West will be as historically terrible as it was last year. That's simply not possible. The 49ers' are imploding, yeah, but Arizona has upgraded its QB situation tremendously, and St. Louis upgrades its QB situation with every year Sam Bradford remains on its roster. Our defense is young, inexperienced and untested. That's a fatal combination.

So it'll be an uphill climb. Jackson will need better than a 7-9 performance to get us into the playoffs. He's not Cleo Lemon, and I do agree that a solid TE like Miller is a QB's best friend. But still, history and Occam's Razor say that Tarvaris Jackson is most likely not a wide enough bottleneck to let this offense flow.

But that's okay. This is about the future. And that's what the rest of the country doesn't seem to get.

Well, no, that's not accurate. They do get it.

They're just jealous.

Part 2: Why Tarvaris Jackson was the best QB move for Seattle.


  1. Great read Brandon, but wouldn't you say that TJack could be an upgraded mobile Neil O'Donnell? Captain Checkdown? Five yard dump-offs? I though PC's QB is suppose to be a point guard of sorts, like Rajon Rondo or John Stockton with 17 assists.

    I get that we don't have the lack of talent on this team to go 2-14, but it doesn't mean we'll be better than our record last year. Yeah we play six games against NFCWest, but people don't understand that our opponents have gotten better, like seriously better than last year. AZ got a compentant QB, Bradford is another year wiser, and the 'Niners drafted pretty well, I guess. Also, the rest of our schedule is brutal. I'd be amazed if TJack can muster us another 7 wins...

  2. Brandon, here here on Tarvaris. I couldn't have said it better.

  3. Great writeup, and I agree on the whole. We've made some excellent moves toward a solid future this year and last, and it will pay off in playoff wins. Someday.

    I do have a little differing opinion. Nitpicking, maybe, but "Because we had no other options this year..." struck me a little off.

    We did have other options. Plenty. Matt Hasselbeck was one of them. Just because we did not end up going that way didn't mean we didn't try. Both sides seemed to want it at various times of the negotiations.

    And we could have gone the route of Kevin Kolb, as Arizona did. Personally I'm glad we didn't because I feel pretty confident that move worked out quite well for the Seahawks as it went down.

    There were other options - possibly Orton, McNabb, etc., but they weren't as easy to pull off, or were more costly than we could afford for a stop-gap position.

    All in all, a decent move, and one that will (eventually) pay off for us. And who knows, he may just surprise us.

  4. why is everyone so sure we can draft "the next great Seahawks QB"? Rick Mirer, Dan McGwire, Kelly Stouffer, etc... I thought Jackson was coming into his own until Favre entered the picture. Kevin Kolb is WAY overrated, a product of Andy Reid's offense. Andrew Luck is just the latest in a series of "can't miss" prospects. Let's see what happens before we condemn T Jackson

  5. As a long-time Seahawks fan, I can tell you one thing for sure, Mr. Adams...other NFL teams' fans are NOT jealous. Many still think we are a CFL team...until they have to play us one year.

    Jealous? No. I don't think so.

  6. They're jealous all right. ;)

    Jonathan...maybe I should have said "no other options that PC and JS really would have liked". I'll be enumerating each other option in Part 2, and explaining the apparent reason that each got eliminated by this front office.

  7. "We did have other options. Plenty. Matt Hasselbeck was one of them. Just because we did not end up going that way didn't mean we didn't try. Both sides seemed to want it at various times of the negotiations."

    I'm not sold the Hawks tried all that hard, mainly because Hasselbeck's money became Sidney Rice and Robert Gallery...

  8. T-Jack presents unique problems for Seattle's offense, but also for an opposing defense. Pete canned an offensive coordinator who refused to craft his offense around Matt's skills, so I have confidence that Pete will be doing a few smart things with T-Jack. Like bootlegging a lot more, which will present Jackson with two easy reads, or even three, and a run option. For that to work, however, the run game will have to be at least adequate.

    I look for a few things from T-jack: He will exploit his familiarity with Rice early on. Defenses will adjust, then we will see if Jackson can adjust to that. Jackson will have to learn how to effectively use tight ends, which will require a 2nd read. Shianco did not have the rapport with Jackson he did with Favre, so we will see.

  9. Interesting take, Scott. My impression was that Bates actually tried hard to integrate Hass's skillset into the offense, and got sacked because he refused to stick with the run.

    In a related note, the word "fired" is one of those words whose synonyms are incredibly fun to type, wouldn't you say? Canned, sacked, bounced, dropped, cashiered, booted...I love it.

  10. Well, I had a few sucky employees over the years, and I never fired one of them. But I did can their asses.

    Hass threw deep more last year than at any time I can remember in his career. He had more drop back and scan the defense type plays than I remember ever before as well. His strength in his good years was to make his reads before the snap, quick drop, and hit a timing pattern or slant. Holmgren's whole philosophy about timing passes was to negate the need for multiple reads after the snap. Bates did not play to those strengths of Matt, he expected Matt to do it the Bates way. Yeah, he eliminated the bootlegs for the most part, but that was likely because of the ineffectual passing game, as well as Hasselbeck being a bit slow in his dotage.

    The dumb 4th and 1 sneak attempt that hurt Matt's hand, and some of the 4th and 1 fades are other plays that stand out as Bates not playing to Matt's strengths.

    Why Bates really got fired? Bates got into a bold pissing match before the season began with Gibbs, and Gibbs left. That move hurt the Hawks, and Pete rolled with Bates, but the burden of proof was on Bates after that. He didn't deliver. I wouldn't have stuck with our running game either, it was pure suckage. But if I was Bates, I would have dug out a lot of Holmgren's stuff circa 2007 when he had to abandon the running game and go with Matt's strengths. Which is timing and tempo.

  11. Correction: Bates eliminated the bootleg because of the ineffectual RUNNING game. My bad

  12. So your saying that Pete is deliberately throwing the season?