October 4, 2011

Bleed With Tarvaris

"You have bled with Wallace, now bleed with me." - Robert the Bruce, Braveheart

Seahawks fans have historically provided REAMS of evidence for the notion that "the most popular player on a team is the back-up quarterback." As a kid, I remember a constant drumbeat among Twelves that short, small-handed, inconsistent Dave Krieg needed to be replaced. Revisionist history aside, Matt Hasselbeck heard plenty of boos from the Seahawks Stadium crowd in 2001 and near the end of his Seattle career. The people that screamed from the mountaintops for Trent Dilfer to start gave way to those howling for Seneca Wallace and then Charlie Whitehurst to replace Hasselbeck.

If the two best QBs in franchise history got treated like that, it shouldn't be a surprise that Tarvaris Jackson is getting treated like absolute garbage by legions of Seahawks fans right now. I can't really pretend to understand why at this point.

The simple truth is that Tarvaris Jackson, barring injury or absolute implosion, will be Seattle's starting quarterback the rest of this season and most (if not all) of next season. Pete Carroll will not want to start his prized rookie QB unless he absolutely has to, which means the T-Jack era will probably last two full seasons. Particularly after last Sunday's performance, there is NO reason to think that Charlie Whitehurst is a better option than Jackson at QB. So why is Tarvaris still treated with such disdain by so many fans?

Shouldn't we embrace this kid? Isn't this a classic underdog story? This is a guy who didn't even play major college football, who survived four years of being jerked around by Brad Childress, and is by all accounts a leader in the Seahawks locker room. He's displayed toughness on the field, absorbing brutal punishment and showing his mettle by diving for the end zone to score the decisive touchdown against Arizona two weeks ago. He's never been involved in anything nefarious off-the-field, and looks to be about as close to a model citizen as you'd find in the NFL. So why do so many fans boo him and chant for him to be replaced by a mediocrity like Charlie Whitehurst?

When we acquired Jackson, I said that I'd consider him a success if he matched or exceeded the performance of Jon Kitna in 1999. At the quarter-pole of the season, he's doing just that: Kitna's 1999 QB rating was 77.7, while Jackson's through four games is 80.0. Hell, Jackson is so far outperforming every Matt Hasselbeck season since 2007. He isn't the QB of the future, but as he showed us last week he can be the QB who keeps us competitive until The Savior arrives (particularly if he is given decent pass protection).

I'm still flummoxed with the hostility directed at the man- Matt Hasselbeck isn't walking back into that locker room. For the rest of this season, our choices are Jackson, Whitehurst or Josh Portis, and there is no rational basis to think that either of our other two QBs would magically outperform Tarvaris. So why is the first impulse of so many fans to childishly boo him rather than support him?

We knew what we were getting with Tarvaris Jackson, and now it looks like he might just be able to pull off what he was hired to achieve: provide Seattle with a competent, cheap QB to bridge the gap between Matt Hasselbeck and the Glorious Franchise Quarterback we will draft next Spring.

So why the fuck are so many fans still shitting all over him?


dave crockett said...

I have mostly seen variations on these three reasons. They have substantial overlap.

1. People see Jackson as a known (and bad) quantity, and see Whitehurst as having upside.

2. People resent Carroll's decision to declare Jackson the starter rather than make him openly compete with Whitehurst.

3. People feel that PC/JS are throwing away a shot at another playoffs by not satisfactorily resolving QB in the off-season.

Personally, I think Jackson and Whitehurst are interchangeable. I also understand that some of the frustration is not wanting to acknowledge that Seattle is rebuilding, much less understanding where Seattle is in the rebuild.

Sam said...

It seems to me that most of the people booing Jackson are more casual observers of the game who don't really even understand what Seattle is doing.

Some of these people remember the early- and mid-2000s success the Seahawks have and just simply don't remember, or understand (again), what the team was like BEFORE that in much of the 1990s.

And most really don't seem to get exactly what JS/PC have done in the last two off-seasons, particularly due to our aging team and because the players we had simply did not fit the scheme and vision they had for the future of the franchise. They had to deal with old vets as well as undersized players in MANY of the positions, because that was how a previous GM recruited. It's amazing that Holmgren even had the ability to coach some of those players to success, frankly.

We realized just how amazing of a coach Holmgren was when those players were coached by someone else after his retirement.

Frankly, I'm embarrassed by the fan reaction, particularly at the stadium.

It's not as if the Seahawks are in some long-term demise with a bunch of horrendous players that a management structure/owner refuse to change. It's not as if we have a horrible owner or a coaching staff that is loathed by the media or the fanbase.

Instead, we have one of the best owners in the league, one of the best coaching staffs in the league in terms of their willingness to at least speak to the media (even if they're not always 100% truthful, but it's the NFL, so what do you expect?) and our team is on.a.friggin'.rebuild.

Applegum said...

I am one of those fans who wants to see charlie start and not for any other reason except for this, the organization owes it to themselves and to the to fans to see charlie start given what they gave up to get him. How can anyone say Jackson is better now that both quarterbacks know the offence. I don't hate Jackson but the reason Carroll gave to start him was that "he knows the offence". Ok fine and logical for this particular, lock-out threatened, season but his performance is back-up worthy at best. Give clipboard Jesus a chance to fully run the offense unlike last year's, game here n there. He might not be much better but fans r pissed not at Jackson but that we don't even get to see the player we sacrificed so much to get.

Geoff said...

The fans are upset with Jackson for many reasons.

He seems completely lost most of the time in an offense he supposedly knows so well.

He will not make many NFL-level throws such as timing routes unless the receiver is VERY open.

He holds the ball WAY too long and gets sacked/pressured when the ball should have been out of his hands long ago. Then PC will often blame the O line play for Jackson's struggles after the game. It is like we are watching different games in that regard.

Him being declared the starter the second his pen stopped signing his contract is just goofy as well. PC saying that Jackson got, "A raw deal in Minnesota" is just downright laughable. Jackson played like ass that doesn't show up in his stats. Much like we are seeing now. It would seem that PC is determined to get a top 5 pick. He's not outright tanking but having blind faith (and acting like the fanbase is a little nuts for criticizing him) in a QB that is obviously confused and is struggling out there is a sure bet to make your QB even more unpopular.

Also DKSB, Matty looked like total and utter shit in his early days. Just throwing the ball up for grabs and doing his best Favre inpression.

I would love to see Charlie play, but as you have already surmised, we will be seeing a healthy dose of TJack on our way to a top 5 pick..... Sigh

dave crockett said...

I honestly don't have a dog in this race but these are interesting comments. So I figured I'd reply.

To Applegum -- Fair enough, but I think your argument is a sunk cost fallacy. The price Seattle paid for Charlie isn't relevant to whether he should play; only the staff's evaluation is. The key is that the staff has not thought enough of Charlie, even when Hasselbeck was about the worst starter in the NFL, to play him. None of us knows why, but it is safe to say Charlie has not impressed... and that was well before Jackson showed up.

To Geoff -- The most compelling argument to make for Charlie is "we know Jackson isn't good but know less about Whitehurst." I buy that, but only to a point. Whitehurst has been in practice for over a year, with two starts for Carroll (one decent, one a disaster). In all that time, about the only semi-detailed statements I've ever heard slip about Whitehurst is that he's a very good athlete and how disappointed the team was with his leadership during the lockout. You just never hear anything about him, and that's not universally true of backup QBs.

Other than a group of fans, no one is really banging the drum for Whitehurst. That is so odd to me. In most QB controversies you can find at least one local journalist who publicly supports the backup. If nothing else, it's good for ratings/hits/whatever. It's odd to find a backup QB who is as much of a non-entity as Charlie Whitehurst. That's not even a criticism. I just find it bizarre. Even Seneca Wallace had press support for developing a wildcat package around his skills.

Jonathan Dalar said...

"So why the fuck are so many fans still shitting all over him?"

When he gives fans a reason not to, they'll stop. It's as simple as that. He's been in the league for years, and has yet to either be consistent, or improve his understanding of the game.

His throwing mechanics are horrible. He overthrows or badly misses the majority of his throws, and it is only because the receivers go up to get those balls that they're catches and not misses or interceptions.

He's on a very short leash right now, and is still not impressive in the least, even in the areas which he's allowed to play.

Until he breaks these bad habits and improves, fans will continue to shit all over him.

neurocell said...

Wow. I just want the Hawks to win. I've only cared about one qb controversy: Jim Zorn taking over for Dave Krieg when he would falter. Then, when Chuck Knox made it abundantly clear that Zorn would never start, short of a Krieg injury, I supported Krieg. I've seen qb controversies on teams that I played for, and all that they did was ruin our season.

I remember Matt Hasselbeck struggling in 2001, but I supported him because he would run as hard as he could, with TWO pulled groin muscles. I hurt to just watch him. But his willingness to put the team in front of himself won me over. He always tried to win. Tavaris Jackson is the same way. Charlie Whithurst is an unknown in that manner. He's a really laid back guy, but I'd rather my friends be that way, instead of the Hawks qb. I remember Dan McGuire playing lackadaisical, as if the game really didn't matter to him. I don't ever want to experience anything like that EVER again.

Jackson gives up his body to win, and until the Seahawks can get a qb that does that, and has the elite skills that we all want to see in a qb, I'll root for Jackson.
Mike Eruizione was not on any All-American teams, but because he gave everything he had, he led the US hockey team to a gold medal in 1980. I'd rather have a gritty winner than a pretty loser any day.

On a side note, Jonathon Dalar's comments could've been a scouting report of Jake Locker, except most fans fawned all over him.