Monday, April 30, 2012

Tarvaris Jackson Likely The Odd Man Out

Somebody is not going to make it. There is a game of musical chairs going on at the quarterback position for the Seahawks, and either Josh Portis or Tarvaris Jackson won't have a seat when the music stops.

Russell Wilson was just drafted in the third round and may find GM John Schneider cuddling up next to him at night. That's how much of a man-crush the Seahawks GM has on his new QB. Matt Flynn is going to get $10M guaranteed in his contract, and won't be going anywhere without getting a chance to see how he performs over a full year. That leaves Portis and Jackson.

Portis, it would seem, would be the obvious choice. He has never been active for an NFL game, and was an undrafted free agent a year ago. He shows enough promise that stashing him on the practice squad likely is not an option, but he's probably not ready to step into a back-up role.

Jackson earned a ton of respect for his play last season behind a bad offensive line and with a major injury. He outperformed almost everyone's expectations even with those obstacles, and there is every reason to think he could do even better this season given his improved health and improved line. He probably won't get that chance.

Picture the quarterback competition come training camp. Flynn is the odds-on favorite given his recent contract, unknown ceiling, and perceived superior decision making. Jackson could give him a run for his money, and Wilson may even flash a time or two, but it would be an upset if Flynn is not named the starter.

Now imagine being a player on the team who walks into the locker room each day and sees Jackson. This was their starter and captain last season, and now he is holding a clipboard. Say what you want about the NFL being a business, that's a hard situation for all involved. Jackson feels like a leper, and his teammates can't really help.

Add to that the questions Pete Carroll will face if Flynn falters in the first few games. We've all seen how quickly quarterback controversies develop, and how unproductive they are. Flynn can compete for the starting role, but should have the chance to grow into it if he does win the competition.

A quarterback trio of Flynn, Wilson and Portis gives the front office three potential future franchise quarterbacks instead of just two. Jackson is mostly a known quantity. He can be better, but greatness seems out of his reach. Would you rather risk letting Portis walk and developing into something great for another team, or letting Jackson walk and risk losing more games should Flynn get injured? The Seahawks remain one of the youngest teams in the NFL, and it's biggest remaining question is at quarterback. Having three rounds in the chamber would seem to be a wise move.

The other benefit to letting Jackson go, outside of obvious things like money, is that it would allow for Wilson or Portis to earn back-up reps and the preparation that goes along with it. Running the scout team is a great way to learn NFL offenses and develop chemistry with other young offensive players.

A more harmonious locker room, a better situation for your new starting quarterback, and the chance to develop two young players makes it probably that Jackson has played his last game in Seattle.

8 comments :

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right. I want to find out what Portis has. I worry that most NFL teams need a vet to be there if the rookies falter. We would have two NFL games experience on the team. I feel like the one year deal with TJack will be to perfect to let him go. We may lose Portis of the practice squad this year.
PS love the blog!

Brian said...

Some solid reasoning here, but I think Portis gets the practice squad nod for two reasons:

1) This team has every reason to believe that they have playoff aspirations. Even IF they think Flynn is their guy after training camp, you gotta believe that they'd want better depth behind him than 0 starts that Wilson and Portis would provide.

2) Portis is basically a poor person's Josh Johnson. And there was surprisingly little market for JJ this offseason, and he quietly signed with Harbaugh and the 49ers. After a fairly deep QB draft, there are even fewer teams with QB needs, so I don't think losing Portis is the risk it was even 1 year ago.

Harrin42 said...

Also, Jackson probably has better market value, and could potentially be traded, most likely for a mid-round draft pick. Or 2-late rounds, even.

Anonymous said...

Why do people always assume Pete's Competition principle is a farce? It's not. The locker room/meeting rooms foster the principle. The players expect their head coach to mean what he says. Flynn isn't going to play unless he beats out Jackson. 5m/yr is common for backup QBs in the NFL so it has no relevance as to him playing.

Brian said...

...and...I'm about to agree with Anonymous(#2). I heard from a friend of a friend of a cousin of a friend that the "competition philosophy" of PC @USC was basically this:

Each new year, the previous year's starters have to re-earn their starting job all over again. Incoming Frosh are absolutely given every chance to start. IF you are hurt in training camp, you'd better re-earn that starting job by coaching up your teammates and being a film nerd, because otherwise they will give it to the guy on the field.

I'm down if that's how they play it between Wilson/Flynn/Jackson/Portis.

eburghawkfan said...

So, the depth Chart goes like this:
Matt Flynn
Josh Portis
Russell Wilson

I think I'm ok with that. We know Jackson's ceiling. Could be wrong, but how else do we find out what we've got.

Easy for me to say, my job is not riding on these decisions.

seattl said...

It looks like TJ could be the one out, but so could Portis. What I think it will come down to is, does Wilson convince the coaches he is a dependable backup right now, and capable of starting? Especially with Flynn a question mark.

Obviously we won't need TJ if Wilson is ready, and won't have to risk Portis on waivers. If he's not ready, or Flynn looks shaky, is there a chance we'll keep 4 qbs on the 53-man?

richardfg7 said...

T.J. is a good QB for developing team or as a back-up.But this team is there now. And they need a guy at QB who can lead the offense down the field when it is all on the line. Those 4 games last year when he was in that position it was like why bother.The defense knows all they have to do is bring some heat and he will fall apart. If Coach Carroll marches him out to start this year and it's just more of the same the 12th man will want both their heads.I doubt even "Big Balls Pete" will take that chance.