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Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Should Jackson still be playing for Seahawks?

Injury is affecting quarterback's play

  • Seahawks' quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (7) is playing with a pectoral injury.

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Seahawks' quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (7) is playing with a pectoral injury.

SEATTLE -- At this point, no one can question Tarvaris Jackson toughness, his desire, or his dedication to the team.
What Sunday's loss to Washington showed we can question, however, is if the Seattle Seahawks quarterback should still be playing. That's not to say Jackson is the primary reason why the Seahawks lost. His receivers let him down by repeatedly dropping passes, the defense gave up some unforgivable big plays, and penalties on both sides of the ball again played a big role. But what was evident watching Jackson play Sunday is the Seahawks quarterback is playing hurt, and that the pectoral injury is affecting his play.
For every good throw Jackson made, there seemed to be another that floated in the air too long or got to its target too late. Between plays he moved his arm forward and back as if trying to coax the pain out of his chest. That's something he has done in games since suffering the injury seven weeks ago in New York, but it is a motion Jackson is making more and more each week. During one first-half possession, Jackson was throwing during a TV timeout, presumably to stay loose during the brief break in action.
The effort Jackson is putting in with a serious injury is incredibly commendable. But after seeing him struggle Sunday, it's fair to wonder if he should still be the starting quarterback.
"T-Jack is doing everything he can, but we need to look at the film and see how he played and his decisions and things like that, but I know he's trying his tail off to get it done," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said following the game Sunday.
Jackson is, as Carroll said, trying his tail off. Jackson knows this is almost certainly his last chance to prove himself as a starting quarterback, and injury or not, he is determined to show he can lead a team. But he's also not right from a physical standpoint. According to the FOX broadcast of the game, Jackson's pectoral muscle is 50 percent torn. Since returning to action from the injury, Jackson has regularly been limited to throwing one day a week in practice, and both he and Carroll have acknowledged that surgery may be required at some point either during the season or after the season -- if he makes it to the end of the season.
While no one but Jackson knows just how much the injury is affecting his play, you can't help but wonder if he would still be playing if Seattle had a better situation behind him. Remember, Carroll wanted to give Jackson a second week off after he sat out the Cleveland game, but the offense struggled early against Cincinnati with Charlie Whitehurst under center, and the switch was made.
Jackson has played well at times since coming back, but he has also had his struggles. Since the win over Baltimore, Jackson has seen his passing yardage and completion percentage drop. And though those stats aren't entirely telling given the dropped passes Sunday, he seems to have a hard time making all the throws he can usually make.
A healthy Jackson is clearly Seattle's best option, but at what point are they better off with a healthy Whitehurst compared to an ailing Jackson? And at some point, it's worth asking if it is worth risking Jackson's future for a season that isn't going to end in the playoffs.
Jackson won't take himself out, but if this injury could indeed lead to surgery, is he better off getting that done sooner than later rather than risk missing valuable offseason workouts? And before you scream that Jackson isn't this team's quarterback of the future, know that, even if the Seahawks draft a quarterback in the first round, Jackson could very well be the starter at the beginning of next season, even if he isn't the long-term solution.
Jackson isn't thinking beyond this year, and he shouldn't be. "Regardless of next year we're living for right now," he said earlier this season. "We're trying to win each game every Sunday. Who knows what might happen next year?"
But is it time for the organization look at the big picture? And please don't mistake this as a call for the Seahawks to give up and start tanking games. If Jackson can manage the injury the rest of the year and be effective, he has earned the right to start the remaining five games. But if he can't be effective, and if he's only doing further damage to what is already a serious injury, at some point the Seahawks might have a tough decision to make.
Beyond the long term ramifications for both Jackson and the Seahawks, there is also a more immediate concern with his injury, namely, will he be physically able to play on Thursday night when Seattle hosts the Philadelphia Eagles? Every week since the injury has been an exercise in pain management for Jackson. Typically he has done little if any throwing in Wednesday's practice, thrown Thursday, then rested Friday. Last week was the first week since the injury in which he was able to throw on both Thursday and Friday. So no one, including Jackson, is sure how ready he will be for a game on short rest.
"We talked about that a couple weeks ago," he said following Sunday's game. "It's going to be a short week, but I usually throw on Thursdays. I mean, it's not Sunday. I don't feel the same on Sunday as on Thursdays, but we'll see how it goes and just try to push it and see if we can rest it up and just try to be ready to go on Thursday."
Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog
Story tags » Seahawks

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