Seahawks’ Off-Season Guide To Winning: Hit The Road Jack-son

Tarvaris JacksonLast weekend, many of you indulged in one of the greatest of modern winter traditions: the NFL playoffs.

You may have noticed that the Seattle Seahawks did not play, and in fact did not even qualify for the wild card round.

That should be frowned upon, and changes should be made. Not just because of where they didn’t go, but for where they do want to go, and how they plan to get there.

Let’s face the fact that many, but not all of you, have accepted that the Seahawks are in a rebuilding phase. They are not ready to seriously compete with the league’s elite and potentially win a Super Bowl.

So how long must the average ‘Hawks fan wait to see their beloved team playing for the title? Well, rebuilding a franchise typically takes 3-5 seasons. By the third year, you would hope to see some big dividends paying out to a patient fan base, however there are any number of struggling franchises out there that have been trying to find the right formula for a decade or even longer.

The Seahawks are entering year three of Pete Carroll’s five year plan, and there are perhaps more questions than answers.

The biggest question, and perhaps the only one that the team should concentrate on, is what to do with Tarvaris Jackson.

In a quarterback driven league, it is tough to win without a premier player at the position. Perhaps just 16 of the 32 NFL teams have an above average or better QB, and the Seahawks are not among the lucky ones. Only two of the remaining four playoff teams boast an elite QB, and I would imagine most realistic fans and experts would take any of the QB’s from the playoff teams over the current players filling out the depth chart in Seattle.

Many hoped Tarvaris Jackson would have a season similar to the year San Francisco QB Alex Smith is enjoying, that he would game manage efficiently, limit his mistakes, and let the running game and defense control the tempo and not be forced to win with his arm, at least not often.

Jackson and his seemingly limited abilities are absolutely better suited for such a scheme rather than one that is wide open, and the Seahawks have done their best to compliment him thus.

Suffice to say, it is not working out.

Jackson and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have been working together since 2006, with stops in Minnesota and Seattle, and the results have been mixed bag. Unlike Smith, who has had three different head coaches and seven offensive coordinators and is finally getting comfortable under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh, Jackson has had plenty of opportunities to prove his worth, and he is simply not getting the job done.

Perhaps Jackson does not have the world’s greatest offensive line, and maybe Marshawn Lynch is a bit inconsistent, and granted the receiving corps is not exactly elite, but Jackson and his play are what the offense hinges on, and the results are unlikely to improve.

Operating in the same offense for six consecutive seasons, it is unclear whether his fortunes will turn around, however with a career quarterback rating of 77.7 along with 38 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, he seems to be a backup masquerading as a starter. Following the lockout this past offseason, when Carroll spoke to the media about signing Jackson and instantly declaring him the starter, his excuse for Jackson‘s previous play was that he had not been given a vote of confidence, that he had been “jerked around”.

After 14-1/2 games as the undisputed starter with a full vote of confidence from the coaching staff and seemingly his teammates as he was voted offensive captain, Jackson had a pedestrian season by most standards, finishing with 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns also throwing 13 interceptions, while compiling a quarterback rating of 79.2.

The problem, it would seem, is not the offensive scheme, which produced two division titles in Minnesota as well as a trip to the NFC championship game, and not the Seahawks defense either, which turned in a banner effort this year.

The problem, it would seem, is Jackson, who may be beyond help from a potentially better coach or elite players, which has aided Smith in the last season and beyond.

Changes at QB need to be made, that much is clear. So what can the team do?

The Seahawks need a guy at QB that can take them where they want to go, which is up, ahead, to the promised land, anywhere but here; and the draft may be the place to start. While getting Andrew Luck is virtually impossible, it may be likely to trade up and select other high-upside collegiate players such as Baylor’s Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, or the extremely accurate albeit “seasoned” Braondon Weeden of Oklahoma State.

If either of those two is off the board, the team may want to consider risking a later round pick on Boise State’s Kellen Moore, who has definitely shown a great ability to toss the ball all over the field.

Then there is the free agent market, where Aaron Rodgers’ understudy Matt Flynn will be available. Flynn has shown off a lot of talent and poise in his short career, compiling over 700 yards and nine touchdowns against just one interception in two starts. While those numbers are perhaps skewed with the level of talent Green Bay has on offense, Flynn could definitely bring pocket presence, accuracy, and a down-field passing game to the Seahawks, something Jackson has not shown a consistent ability to do.

While Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, JerMichael Finley, and James Jones are perhaps the best receiving corps in the game today and set a high standard for any team Flynn chooses to go to; Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Zack Miller, and Mike Williams are all more than capable, and we have definitely yet to see the best out of Tate, who has finally seemed to crack the code that is life in the NFL.

Flynn or whoever the team brings in may not solve all of the answers to the Seahawks championship puzzle, however since 1999 only two teams have won a Super Bowl with an average QB to go along with a record setting defense (Baltimore, 2000; Tampa Bay, 2002), and I do not expect that to change any time soon, especially with the onslaught of offense the league is experiencing.

In order to succeed in 2012 and down the road, the Seahawks must make a change at QB. With Tarvaris Jackson starting, 7-9 or worse is the best that they can hope for, and that is simply not good enough.

“The times they are a changing”, Bob Dylan once sang. Jackson is part of the team’s past, but he is not their future. Hit the road Jack-son, but feel free to come back. Who knows, those 13 interceptions may come in handy when you face the Seahawks defense down the line.

About Arran Gimba