Selling Tarvaris Jackson as the starter won’t be easy for coach Pete Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks organization. Fans know Jackson was mediocre at best with the Vikings, and at times flat-out terrible. They know he was dismal in his only playoff appearance and that he never would’ve been in that one playoff game in the first place had Gus Frerotte not suffered an injury down the stretch, forcing the Vikings to go back to Jackson whom they’d benched earlier that year. They also know the Vikings’ lack of faith in Jackson was what prompted the team to bring Brett Favre out of retirement not once but twice. Yes Seahawks fans, the Vikings chose to take their chances with an aging, immobile quarterback rather than ride with T-Jack. And now he’s the man upon whose shoulders your coach has placed your team’s immediate future.
There’s no use going over T-Jack’s inadequacies again in any detail – we’ve all heard that song so many times it makes us want to puke. Suffice it to say, Tarvaris is simply not a very good quarterback, and has very little chance of ever significantly improving. We know this because we watched him for five years – watched him never learn how to read defenses, watched his confidence never seem to increase, watched him leave games over the merest of injuries (the kind of stuff Brett Favre would’ve barely even felt).
Despite these realities, Pete Carroll and Darrel Bevell are ready to roll the dice on T-Jack one more time, apparently believing they can get something out of him that was never extracted in Minnesota. They’ve sold themselves on T-Jack’s value, and now they’re trying to sell their fans on it too. This is a very tough sell, for all the reasons outlined above, but Pete Carroll has a strategy in mind. This strategy is built upon a phrase Viking fans have become all-too-familiar with over the past couple of years:
Tarvaris Jackson never got a fair shake in Minnesota.
Or, in Pete Carroll’s own rather more colorful words, “He’s been jerked around. We wanted to put him in a stable situation.”
So T-Jack is like a dog that got kicked around by mean people but after all that trial and tribulation has finally found a home where he’ll be loved and cared for? And now that T-Jack is in the right kind of nurturing environment he’ll finally blossom into the quarterback he always could have been?
All due respect to Pete Carroll, but that is a load of hooey. Tarvaris Jackson got jerked around in Minnesota? By whom? The coach who traded up to draft him then went on to install him as the starter two straight offseasons without camp competition? Yeah, T-Jack never had his shot. I guess I imagined all those games he started. I guess I’m misremembering those years the Vikings never drafted someone who could really push him in camp, but kept backing him up with journeyman veterans like Kelly Holcomb and Gus Frerotte and Sage Rosenfels.
Fact: Brad Childress gave T-Jack every chance to succeed. In fact, if Chilly was guilty of anything, it was stubbornly standing behind T-Jack for too long. Chilly should’ve drafted a quarterback in the 3rd or 4th round in 2007 to make a real competition of it but instead took Tyler Thigpen low, then let Thigpen get away (because they couldn’t stand losing Brooks Bollinger). In 2008 the Vikings were low on draft picks because of trades they’d made and were forced to settle for 5th rounder John David Booty, a guy who never had a serious shot at pushing Jackson. In 2009 they failed to draft a QB at all, possibly because they already had their eyes on Brett Favre and were worried taking a young QB would make him leery of joining the team (his aversion to mentoring and all). In 2010 they drafted Joe Webb…as a wide receiver.
Far from jerking T-Jack around, Childress actually showed more faith in him than was justifiable by any sane argument. Only after Chilly began fearing for his job did he give up his dream of molding T-Jack into the new Donovan McNabb and go after Favre. You could say the Vikings erred by not giving the team back to T-Jack after Favre’s one-year run, but the fact is by that point they were pretty well convinced T-Jack wouldn’t be the guy. Had Jackson done anything in training camp that year to change their minds, the Three Amigos may never have been sent south to pick up Brett and his bucket of protein powder.
Jackson got several chances to win the job once-and-for-all and never locked it down. This year, at long last, the Vikings did what they should’ve done years before and drafted a legitimate heir apparent at QB, and finally gave Jackson his walking papers. To hear Pete Carroll tell it, the Vikings not tendering Jackson was like a man being released from prison. Now finally T-Jack can spread his wings and soar like a bird. A seahawk, to be precise.
I’ll be the first to eat my words if Jackson actually does improve under Carroll and Bevell’s tutelage in Seattle. I’m not worried about having to eat those words, because I’ve seen T-Jack play, and know that he is at best a decent back-up. Seahawks fans may buy the hope Carroll is selling with his Vikings-trashing pro-Jackson words, but I won’t, and neither will most Viking people.
The sad thing is that deep down Carroll probably doesn’t believe his own words either. He was willing to take a flyer on Jackson because Bevell recommended him and because, let’s face it, there weren’t a lot of better options out there once Matt Hasselbeck decided to blow town. Why not bring in a guy the offensive coordinator is familiar with and who has thrown to the wide receiver you’re targeting as your big new offensive weapon? Maybe you’ll get lucky. It’s a weak division and even if you totally tank the season, you’ve got a chance to draft Andrew Luck next year.
Obviously Seattle didn’t like any of the other more-expensive potential QB options. They didn’t want to give up a draft pick for Kyle Orton, didn’t want to cough up picks/players and money for Kevin Kolb, didn’t want to take a chance with Donovan McNabb (who the Vikings ended up getting for relatively little picks- and salary-wise). They went cheap at quarterback, and now they’ve got to justify the move. I don’t fault Carroll for stretching credulity the way he did when he pulled out the “T-Jack was screwed by the Vikings” card – that’s the way the selling hope game is played – but I want it stated for the record that he’s full of beans, and so is anyone else who suggests the Vikings did Jackson wrong.