Tarvaris Jackson is the right man for the Seahawks quarterback job.
And that's not necessarily because Jackson is a good quarterback -- though despite some people's shouts for backup Charlie Whitehurst, it's way too early to know if Jackson will succeed in Seattle. No, Jackson is the right man for the job because, well, he has a chance to survive the job.
When praising his quarterback the day after Seattle's season-opening loss, head coach Pete Carroll didn't praise Jackson's accuracy or leadership, though he has raved about those qualities in the past. Instead, what Carroll talked about was Jackson's ability to survive the beating San Francisco dished out and still put together a strong second half.
"He's really unflappable on the field," Carroll said. "That's a very strong characteristic that we're going to need for a while here as we're building and getting these guys strong up front. He gives a chance to really hang tough now."
A chance to hang tough. Just what every football fan dreams of, right? OK, maybe a chance to win a Super Bowl sounds better than a chance to hang tough, but right now that's where the Seahawks find themselves, particularly on the offensive line. By drafting James Carpenter and John Moffitt with their first two picks in April, and immediately naming them starters, the Seahawks made a decision that could make the line formidable for years to come. But right now, particularly when you add in right tackle Breno Giacomini, who made his first NFL start Sunday, it's a group with a lot of growing to do. And a mobile quarterback is probably the best option to ride out the storm with this line.
"He's really tough, he can hang in there and he doesn't let it bother him," Carroll said of Jackson. "When he gets a chance to throw the football, even sometimes when guys are right in his mug, he can still deliver the football and make plays. ... He's got all the arm we need and he's tough as can be. There are a lot of guys that might not finish that game. He took some serious hits and never even flinched."
Carroll never will call this a rebuilding year. His stated goal is still to win the division, but he also realizes this group of players is a long way from playing at its highest level. Whatever you want to call this team -- rebuilding, young, inexperienced, still developing -- it wouldn't have been a very good situation for Matt Hasselbeck.
Throughout the offseason, many people, this writer included, thought re-signing Hasselbeck would give the Seahawks the best shot in 2011. A healthy Hasselbeck probably would be the best option. But after watching the beating Jackson took, as well as the numerous hits he has managed to avoid with his athleticism, is there anyone out there who believes Hasselbeck could have survived this year?
In an ideal situation, Hasselbeck is still the better option. This offensive line, however, is a long, long way from an ideal situation -- which is why signing Jackson might have been the right move.
Was Jackson great against the 49ers? No. He missed an open Golden Tate on a deep ball down the sideline, and held the ball too long on a couple of occasions. But Jackson didn't play nearly as poorly as some people are claiming.
His only interception came on a Hail Mary pass at the end of the half, and he did throw for two touchdowns in a strong second half. But what is best about Jackson for this year is that his athleticism and toughness give him a chance of surviving a weekly onslaught of pass rushers.
That is in no way to say Hasselbeck isn't tough. He has played through countless injuries none of us knew about at the time, and was one of the toughest players -- both mentally and physically -- on Seattle's roster year in and year out. But Hasselbeck will be 36 later this month, and while Jackson has spent most of the past three years on the sideline, Hasselbeck has taken more than his fair share of hits. As anyone who has played the game can tell you, those hits have a cumulative effect on players.
So no, this may not be an ideal situation, and no, Jackson very well may not be the long-term answer at the position, but for now, he is the right man for the job.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog.
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