Seahawks still hampered by their quarterbacks
The game against Dallas was there to be won. Take nothing away from the Cowboys, they deserved to win it. However, they’re a team that just can’t get out of it’s own way. They’re stuttering when they should be fluid. In the first half, Seattle had the breaks but couldn’t capitalise. In the second half, all the Cowboys did was iron out a few of the creases and they were barely tested. Why? The Seahawks passing offense couldn’t keep up – it was impotent and turned the ball over.
Tarvaris Jackson hasn’t been a disaster for the Seahawks this year. Far from it in fact, and I suspect a few of the critics have actually warmed to the guy that provoked a collective groan when it became clear he would be the team’s unchallenged starter this year. Having seen Charlie Whitehurst in the starting role too, it’s clear the right man is playing for this team in 2011.
However, a performance like the one seen against Dallas just re-emphasises the already obvious need to make a draft splash on a quarterback. If the player you want is out of reach, it’s time to be aggressive – because this team’s development cannot be compromised by getting cute at the most important position in football.
All three of Jackson’s interceptions were avoidable and while the third may have courted some controversy and debate, the first two were just plain bad. In a game like this against a stuttering Dallas, you need a quarterback who’s going to step up and win you the game. This is the type of meeting where a good quarterback gets you over the finish line – sadly, that quarterback was Tony Romo on Sunday. Say what you want about Romo, he’s still a class above Tarvaris Jackson.
If you look through Jackson’s career on the whole, he’s always had more turnovers than touchdowns. The exception came in 2008 when he was in and out of the team, starting only five games. In six years he has a total touchdown-to-interception ratio of 30-31, so it’s not really a surprise he’s currently at 6-9 for 2011. Against Dallas he had no excuses – good pass protection, healthy receivers and a running game that suddenly looked productive. The only thing missing was good play from the quarterback.
The Seahawks have enough talent on their roster to be mildly successful, certainly better than a 2-6 record and being all but out of post-season contention during the first week of November. If all the work so far has been about building the right environment for a quarterback to prosper, it’s time to go all in on finding that player. Put a functional quarterback into this offense and it can win again. Sure, that’s somewhat of a glib remark and maybe stating the obvious – but eventually this team has to bite the bullet on finding that guy. Unfortunately, stop-gaps and re-treads will not get it done.
The only excuse for not solving this problem is a wave of underclassmen opting to stay in school – your Matt Barkley’s and Robert Griffin’s for example.
It may be a bit of a dead-horse subject, but it’s going to linger every day until the situation is sorted once and for all. It’ll be 19 years next April since the Seahawks last drafted a quarterback in round one, it cannot be allowed to stretch into a 20th year.
Landry Jones should stay at Oklahoma?
Dan Kadar at Mocking the Draft highlights a tweet from Lance Zierlein, suggesting two NFL scouts he’s spoken to believe Landry Jones shouldn’t declare for the draft. I found this interesting, because there’s been little negative reporting on Jones aside from Tony Pauline’s pre-season mid-round grade that has since changed to a first round projection. I’ve been negative about Jones, as evidenced in my review of his performance against Texas A&M this weekend. I wouldn’t draft the guy as I said on Saturday. However, I also don’t see any benefit to him returning to Oklahoma for another year.
The issues I have with Jones were all on tape last year – he’s not really progressed in 12 months. Part of that is down to the situation he’s in at Oklahoma – he’s basically the conductor of a prolific offense that makes the most of a limited playbook with a high tempo. In order to develop beyond what he is now, he needs to get away from that and start to work within something akin to a pro-style offense. I suspect he’ll be found out at the next level and won’t be able to improvise in the face of trouble – when things break down can he stray from the script? When offered options A, B and C as a pro-quarterback, is he going to be able to move to B or C when A is taken away? I’m not convinced. However, we’ll never know until he actually gets into the NFL and starts working with pro-coaches.
Another year at Oklahoma will just mean another season with loads of touchdowns and passing yards, but no real technical or physical improvement. I can’t see a situation where his stock improves. The only real positive could be that the 2013 class at quarterback is setting up to be one of the weakest we’ve seen in a long while (unless players like Matt Barkley return for a fourth year at USC) so maybe he capitalises on that? That’s a risky business though, because it only takes one bad injury and the gamble has failed.
Jones may well be a first round pick next April if he does declare and that should be enough to make his mind up. It’d be an undeserved grade in my view, but such is the desperate need for quarterbacks and given the relatively limited cost in the new rookie pay scale – someone will take their chance.
Seahawks would pick 7th
NE Patriots Draft has the updated draft order following the weekend’s games, with the Seahawks picking 7th overall as things stand. They’re tied with Arizona who pick 4th, with five teams sharing a 2-6 record. Miami’s shock win over Kansas City makes it increasingly likely that the Indianapolis Colts will pick first overall, creating an interesting scenario.
The Colts have an option to avoid a near $30m guaranteed investment in Peyton Manning if they cut him before next April’s draft. The idea of cutting Manning – a franchise icon as well as a brilliant quarterback – would’ve been unthinkable just a few months ago. Having the opportunity to draft the highly rated Luck creates a dilemma though where it has to be considered.
If the Colts choose to keep (and pay) Manning, they’re likely to expect him to recover and feature for the remaining four years of his contract to put Indianapolis back in Super Bowl contention. Would a bounty of picks for trading the rights to Luck be tempting to aid that push? Or would they look to sit the young quarterback as a long term replacement? That in itself brings about a lot of question marks, namely whether the most high profile college quarterback since John Elway would accept riding the bench for a few years. You also have to wonder whether Manning and the Colts really want a drawn out quarterback controversy, or an amount of nearly $130m invested in two players at the same position.
All kinds of possibilities exist – Manning becoming a free agent, Luck becoming his heir apparent or Indy potentially trading the pick for a kings ransom. Whatever is most likely at this stage (Indy drafting Luck) it won’t be the foregone conclusion that Miami picking first would’ve provided.
Speaking of Miami, I just wonder if such an impressive victory over Kansas City will create a spark at that franchise. They have a tough remaining schedule, but they’re also a better team than their record suggests. They are the big threat to quarterback-hungry teams like Seattle, Denver and Washington once Luck leaves the board.
At the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a situation like this:
#1 Indianapolis – Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
#2 Miami – Quarterback #2 (Barkley? Jones? Griffin?)
#3 St. Louis – Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
#4 Arizona – Offensive tackle #2 (Martin? Reiff?)
#5 Jacksonville – WR for the young quarterback (Blackmon? Jones?)
#6 Carolina – WR #2 for the young quarterback (Blackmon? Jones?)
With the Seahawks picking 7th overall, they may actually find the quarterback they want falls straight to them barring any moves up the board. Miami’s philosophy on quarterbacks may differ from Seattle’s, creating a situation where the two teams are not chasing the same player. On the other hand, the Seahawks may end up being out in the cold and looking to secondary options. Would they turn to a big playmaker like Trent Richardson (Adrian Peterson was the #7 overall pick previously) or take their pick of the defensive players, none of which have left the board in the scenario above?
Or alternatively, would they extend their quarterback wish-list to three? I don’t expect Landry Jones to be among the options due to his overall skill set differing from Seattle’s wishes, but what about a player like Robert Griffin III? He still intrigues me enough to stop me ruling out a top-ten pick as being crazy talk, yet he’s also enough of a project to stop me rolling with it. He is the wildcard in all of this, as he fits Seattle’s criteria but is far from ready to start in the NFL. Either way, it may be time to start rooting for the Dolphins to win. With the Seahawks 2-6 and essentially out of the post-season race, they might as well come away with a quarterback of the future next April.
Robert Griffin III Highlights vs Missouri
Speaking of Griffin, I’ve been unable to get full tape on his performance in Baylor’s win over Missouri on Saturday. However, I did find this highlights video which runs through some of his big plays. His accuracy and touch on deep throws is the things that excites me the most, but just behind it is his continuing and rapid development. His rise from true freshman-to-redshirt junior has been remarkable, and he keeps getting better if his performance against Texas A&M is anything to go by. As I said above, he’s the wildcard in this process. Against Missouri he had a typically productive day, going 27-41 for 406 passing yards and three touchdowns. He added another score on the ground and didn’t have a turnover. The combination of athletic prowess, leadership, production and proven ability to not turn the ball over will interest Seattle’s front office.
Andrew Luck tape vs Oregon State
Courtesy of JMPasq, below you’ll find full game tape of Luck’s performance in Saturday’s victory over Oregon State. For the second week in succession we see that Luck is human after all, because this was far from a faultless performance. Fans and scouts have really got themselves into a situation where’s it’s assumed Luck is an impossibly perfect player. That’s far from the truth and I wonder how he’ll deal with his ridiculously high expectations at the next level. From a technique point of view, from a character point of view and from a physical point of view Luck is a rare talent, but he isn’t flawless. Against Oregon State his accuracy was hit and miss, occasionally throwing behind his intended target or just making a bad decision under pressure (see: first interception). Luck struggled a bit last week when USC brought the heat, and this is becoming a trend – it’s an area of his game he has to improve having experienced very little pressure during his time at Stanford.
However, we shouldn’t over react to this in the same way we shouldn’t assume Luck is perfect. He’s a fine prospect who will be chosen first overall. However, there are still areas he can improve, it’s just that technically he’s far more advanced than most quarterbacks his age.