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.