Written by Kip Earlywine
Let’s be honest Seahawks fans. How many of you lose sleep at night worrying about Seattle’s future at quarterback? From the comments I’ve read across several prominent blogs and message boards, it seems like a lot.
I’m no different.
Tarvaris Jackson’s better than expected 2011 performance has all but guaranteed that he will remain a Seahawk in 2012. Additionally, it seems highly likely that he will start at least the beginning of next season. Jackson still has plenty of room for improvement, and while you could argue that he’s held the Seahawks back on numerous occasions, I think it would be wrong to say he’s hurt this team. This coaching staff has successfully turned Jackson from an erratic playmaker type to a more conservative, safer game-manager type, and its made Jackson a better quarterback, despite playing hurt most of the season.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider have made a big commitment to Jackson. In words. In patience. Even in cash. They put their foots in their mouths regarding Minnesota and how they “jerked him around.” If Seattle had benched Jackson at any point, those words would come back to bite them in the ass and paint them as incompetent hypocrites. That’s a lot of incentive to stay the course at quarterback. Its an incentive that, I believe, will still factor in 2012 as well. Pete Carroll has gone above and beyond to reinforce Jackson’s job security and help him believe that he’s “the guy.” Its smart coaching. You don’t want your quarterback constantly worrying about his job status. Just look at Vince Young. That said, drafting a quarterback in the first round sends a message about the previous starter, and no matter how its spun, its a message that will work against the good trust that Pete has tried to build with Jackson.
This is worrisome to Seahawks fans. I respect what Tarvaris has done. I appreciate that he has room for improvement and he’s still a guy with some potential. As a stopgap, he’s been all I could have asked for. I have absolutely no problem with him being our starter in 2012, and possibly beyond depending on development time for his successor. But if Tarvaris Jackson is an obstacle to Seattle drafting a franchise quarterback, I think its safe to say that most Seahawks fans would want him off the team this very instant. However, I am beginning to fear that this is a very real possibility.
Life is full of adversity and downright scary moments. As a believer, I find that I can seek comfort in asking God for help, even if its just to help me calm down. I know many of you probably can’t relate to that, and far be it from me to push my beliefs on anyone else. Rather, I simply bring this up to illustrate a point- too often, critical things in our lives are completely out of our control. Prominent Mariners blogger Dave Cameron was recently diagnosed with a form of cancer, and though he’s about as anti-intangible as they come, even he admitted to putting faith in betting against the odds. Sometimes, if only for the sake of our own sanity, its good to have a little faith. In this case, it would mean having faith in Pete Carroll and John Schneider and their plan for the quarterback position.
I have a lot of faith in those guys. I could go on and on about it. Red Bryant anyone? How about Stokely, Brock, Hargrove, Browner, BMW, Lynch, Gallery, Rice, Miller and even Tom Cable. And that’s just on the transaction/player revamp side of the equation.
I have a lot of self-confidence in this site’s ability to project players. Rob in particular has a rare gift for noticing first round talents before almost anyone else does. He proclaimed Blaine Gabbert as a top 10 pick in December of last year, back when very few people even knew who Gabbert was. He called Jimmy Smith, Derrick Morgan, James Carpenter and many, many others before mainstream draft analysts did. Kyle handily predicted Stafford as the superior quarterback to Sanchez. My track record here doesn’t go back very far and isn’t as great as theirs, but I was a fan of Russell Okung and many years before that I was a huge fan of Brandon Mebane before Seattle drafted him.
But even having said all that, I don’t think our ability to evaluate talent comes even close to what John Schneider and his scouting group has done. We tend to focus on big name prospects here- guys that are likely to be drafted in the first three rounds. We have lives to live outside of Seahawks football, and our resources are very limited. John Schneider, Scot McCloughan, Scott Fitterer, and his six regional scouts are all full time, highly paid professionals obsessed with finding as much talent as possible. Not only are they more qualified than anyone who writes here, but they have resources we can only dream of. I can only imagine how proud I’d be if I had talked up Richard Sherman before last year’s draft. And that’s just one player. Never mind Kam Chancellor, KJ Wright, or Doug Baldwin.
And therein lies the rub. There are going to be roughly a thousand draft eligible players in any given year, and here at this site, we’d be lucky to cover a hundred of them. Guys like Doug Baldwin easily slipped past our radar completely, but he didn’t slip past John Schneider’s. Really, the closest we’ve come to touting a player on the fringe is Austin Davis. Our front office makes several Austin Davis type sleeper moves every year, with a surprising number of those moves paying off.
I’m not trying to convince anyone that passing on Griffin or Barkley is a good idea. I think that the potential rewards are such that Seattle should not take them lightly. But at the same time, I think that this front office has more than earned our patience and good faith should they go a different direction next April.
This front office has been very protective of Josh Portis, even to the point of throwing away a win by starting Whitehurst against the lowly Browns. Portis is a project, but flashed serious potential in the preseason. I’m admittedly shooting in the dark here, but is it possible the front office thinks they have something in Josh Portis? Or what if they have a non-first round quarterback who really intrigues them? Perhaps Austin Davis. Or perhaps someone we’ve never even thought about.
This is not meant to be taken as an argument against drafting a first round quarterback. Its only to say that sometimes, smart people will do befuddling things only to prove later that those moves were master strokes. The Tapp and Wilson trades caused a righteous outcry among Seahawks fans. And for good reason, Tapp and Wilson were two of Seattle’s better defenders the year before. Yet, the Tapp trade netted us Chris Clemons, and the Wilson trade landed us Richard Sherman. Rather unbelievably, the Seahawks unloaded those players for a fraction of their worth and came out ahead. Way ahead.
If Seattle passes on Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin III next April, there will be no shortage of consternation. But should that unfortunate reality come to pass, I would advise us all: “have a little faith.” These guys have earned it. It wouldn’t be the first time they did something that looked stupid on the surface but proved brilliant in retrospect.