When I was growing up, we called pairs of socks we got for Christmas “Ooh, Socks!” It was said with an exacted amount of faux enthusiasm, like Ashton Kutcher apologizing for cheating on his old wife with a younger woman. Did we like the socks? Not really. But they were one of those practical presents that are necessary for the coming year.
And so, they were “Ooh, Socks!”
Cheap-assed present givers anyway.
Tavaris Jackson is the “Ooh, Socks!” of the Seahawks fan base. They love him until he’s out of ear shot or not helping win the last five of seven games on behalf of the Nation of the 12th Man.
And so we now know that Tavaris Jackson isn’t the Seattle Seahawks Quarterback of the Future. That has been made very clear by the Twitterazzi and local media folks in their reaction to today’s insanely close 19-17 loss against the San Francisco 49ers.
Also made clear by Twitter is just how egregiously idiotic 49ers fans are, but that’s a post for another time.
No, today, what we really learned is that people who watch football games for some odd reason seem to get Alzheimers throughout the season.
Some are calling for the head of TJax, perhaps one of the most even-keeled, courageous and pain-handling quarterbacks I’ve ever seen who holds onto the ball for way too long.
Of course, that flaw, which resulted in him being stripped by Niners back-up linebacker Larry Grant in a play that shut down the Hawks’ last-second hopes of a winning field goal, is something we’ve known all season. We saw Chicago Bears linebacker Julius Peppers cause a safety last week for that reason. We saw many of the sacks in the stats column happen for the same reason this year.
Is there a way to correct that flaw? Unlikely. Jackson has been in the NFL too long to teach him new tricks, and clearly the coaching staff isn’t interested in him practicing throwing live hand grenades (I want an intellectual property rights fee if they ever decide to use that idea).
So it should be shocking to absolutely friggin’ everyone in the universe that all of the sudden fans and the media are screaming “oh my Hamburger Helper I can’t believe it! There’s no way he’s our quarterback next year! He’s never going to do anything!”
As if they were praising him as the Messiah (my apologies, Mr. Tebow) the entire season.
These are the same bandwagon-loving fans and media elites who were screaming for Checkdown Charlie Whitehurst to replace him. We had an extremely disgusting taste of that this season, too, and then those cart-riding reactionaries screamed for Jackson to be back. When he started to win, and make some decent plays downfield (and the team was winning), they fell in love with him, as if to say they now believed he was worthy for the NFL Hall of Fame.
Nobody in my house thought either of those extreme positions. Mainly because my wife doesn’t watch football and my kid is too young to understand what’s going on. He thinks everything on the TV is called “football,” and that’s all he knows about the game. Or television, actually.
What “we” thought in this humble abode was that Tavaris Jackson was the most likely to be able to manage an offense he was familiar with and that this was still a rebuilding process for the NFL’s youngest team of starters during a lock-out-shorteneded offseason and training camp.
For the most part, that’s exactly what this season has shown. Was I disappointed in today’s loss? Of course. But I am not screaming for blood. Tavaris Jackson did exactly what he has done each week he has played for this team. He showed poise and conviction, as well as the patience of a 147-year turtle in the Galapagos Islands who holds onto the ball too.effing.long.
In the end we got what we needed this season (and, oh by the way bandwagon fans, you know there’s another game this season, right?), our young players gained crucial experience and we saw significant progress in Year 2 of the Epoch of Carroll & Schneider.
We saw the blueprint in a far clearer fashion than we did with Hasselbeck at the helm. We were familiar with him, his skill set and many of the veterans, now on their umpteenth offensive scheme in however many years (a crafty way for me to admit I can’t remember, you suckers). We were a bit lost last year in terms of where Carroll wanted to go with “his” team. Marshawn Lynch was lost in the backfield all year, too.
Now look where we’re at. Skittles literally fall from out of the sky at Century Link Field when Beast Mode breaks into the endzone.
No, Tavaris Jackson isn’t the Seahawks Quarterback of the Future. He’s likely our starter next year considering we’ll probably end the season 8-8 and be nowhere close to picking up an immediate starting QB in the 2012 draft. Jackson still provides this team with enough time to potentially draft a solid rookie who he can help mentor for a year.
TJax is the Christmas “Ooh, Socks!” of the Seattle Seahawks. He’ll keep your feet warm until you’re ready to open up the good stuff.
Week one of the regular season is finally upon us. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I couldn’t be happier to see the 2011 Seahawks. You know, the real Seahawks, and not the bizarre and somewhat disappointing pre season version. It’s going to be great to see an actual game plan for once.
Each week we will go deep into the film and bring you the KEY match ups that may impact the game in the biggest way. It may be as obvious as the QB, it may be the second string outside linebacker, and it may even be a D lineman in passing situations. It all depends on what we feel a coaching staff may try to exploit on game day.
So let’s begin:
1. LT Joe Staley and LG Mike Iupati vs DE Chris Clemons and DT Brandon Mebane.
This is the look the Seahawks have to be a little nervous about. Never really understood just how impressive Mike Iupati was until I watched him closely on every play. He is extremely aggressive in his approach to the position. He can sometimes play a little high, but he is so incredibly strong that it usually doesn’t matter. He consistently throws DT’s around like rag dolls and will finish off blocks. He’s quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with at the guard position.
Seahawks DT Brandon Mebane, depending on alignment, will have his hands full. Mebane excels at penetration, and his ability to take on blockers to squeeze plays is well documented. He will have to be on his game for this success to continue against Mike Iupati.
Left tackle Joe Staley is another player that our defensive line will have to deal with. While he does not display the raw power that Iupati does, he shows great duck, fit and finish in his drive blocks. Chris Clemons will have a lot of trouble handling him on running downs. Look for the 49ers to run against the weak-side as much as possible. There are 2 reason’s Frank Gore is a household name, and one of them is the play of the offensive line.
2. Flex or TE combination routes against the 49ers underneath zones.
The Seahawks use of multi TE sets and Slot receiver crossing routes can be an issue for the underneath coverage of the 49ers linebackers. Patrick Willis is an amazing all world talent, but after the departure of Takeo Spikes, he is left as the lone elite player in the LB corps. Navarro Bowman has been promoted to take the spot vacated by Spikes, but has yet to play up to the required level so far this pre season. One thing I witnessed in a few different games was the ease at which underneath combination routes confused Bowman and Parys Haralson. Below is just one example of routes in question:
As you can see, the 49ers matched the Texans 3 wide, TE flex formation with a nickel alignment. Carlos Rodgers was left to cover the rub combination alone after Navarro Bowman dropped too deep into coverage and failed to recognize the routes developing in his zone. This made for a very easy pitch and catch. Patrick Willis can only do so much, and the fact that the Seahawks love to utilize similar formations to isolate the weak-side in coverage, bodes well for a couple nice completions. One has to think this will be something Darrell Bevell could look to exploit on Sunday.
3. Tarvaris Jackson vs the 49ers front 7.
When the Seahawks named Tarvaris Jackson the starter at QB the first thing I pictured was him on the move. Boots, waggles, half rolls, and sprint outs, all with the goal to vary his launch point and take advantage of his athleticism. When you add in the size of our receivers, you can see why I was very excited to see if this would work. While we all know everything starts upfront with pass protection, I feel like this approach would aid the line, and keep the 49ers from attacking the same landmark over and over.
This play turned into a great first down, but more importantly it showed another chink in the front seven’s aggressive style. Vic Fangio loves to blitz, and blitz, and blitz. If we can set up Tarvaris Jackson with a balanced attack, this could mean big things in the passing game.
After all of this pre-season scouting, I’ll admit this will be the hardest week to predict, considering the change in coaching staffs, lack of established team tendencies, and the vanilla styles employed. So just sit back, grab your beverage of choice, and enjoy the start of the 2011 Seahawk Season..
By Will McDougle
I tend to avoid post game wrap ups because as football fans we have 2,000,000,000 different resources out there and I’m just adding to the echo chamber. However, I find it deeply troubling that the TV Broadcast failed to show what really happened last night on almost every passing play the Seahawks ran.
It’s very easy as fans to blame one player or position for the failure of a play. The NFL has a horrible problem with analysts feeding this hysteria by the way they speak on air and edit replays. Football is a TEAM sport so when something goes wrong, it’s usually a myriad of things.
For now, let’s discuss the ingredients that go into any positive passing play.
1. The QB’s Pre-snap read (PSR), Primary Key, and accurate pass.
Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst must make a Pre-Snap Read to determine the defensive coverage or shell. The purpose is to identify several things such as: safeties, weak side defender, the defensive front, and position of corners in relation to receivers i.e., depth. A QB must also focus or “key” on the primary defender based on the patterns being ran to make smart and accurate throws to open areas of the field. All of this while utilizing proper footwork, balance and pocket pressure awareness. That’s why they pay QBs the money they do. So far Tarvaris Jackson has excelled at feeling and reacting to pressure. Problem is, the pressure was getting home before receivers were finished with routes, or he was set up to throw.
2. The Offensive Line
Whether it be an area, combo, or man blocking scheme it’s simple.. If you can’t block it you can’t succeed. Our lineman have consistently lost a battle or two across the line of scrimmage and it’s making things very difficult. When an offensive line struggles in pass protection there should be an adjustment made by the offensive play caller to move the QB around and change the defensive rushing landmarks. The use of half rolls, sprint outs, and boots can help restrain a defense’s constant pressure attack. Last night against Denver it was obvious that spread formation meant primarily pass, and heavy (2 TE) meant zone run or boot action. This seemingly stubborn play calling is meant to install and work on the new offense and obviously not what we will see in the regular season.
3. The Receivers
QB’s and receivers must understand the entire concept of each play to be on the same page. Receivers must also run crisp routes at the proper depth, gain some separation, and be aware of breakdowns in protection or hot calls. I can’t speak for the first two preseason games because the NFL refuses to show the defensive coverage or route combinations in full. Against Denver I was sitting 30 rows from the Seahawks bench on the 40 yd line and it gave me a great perspective of the routes as they progressed. One thing that I noticed was the extensive use of vertical timing route combinations, and sideline comebacks without much, if any separation. Timing routes, including 3-step, 5-step, and some 7-step drop passes, require a great deal of repetition between quarterback and receiver to develop the execution level needed to move the ball. Without the normal off-season, that’s going to take several games into the regular season to achieve. I watched as play after play Tarvaris stared at the back of his receiver, was cocked to throw, and had to eat it because the receiver had not even finished the stem of his route and never looked back.
I will say that when the Seahawks went to a heavy package ( multi TE’s) they seemed to fare much better in the passing game. Not because there was more people in to block, but because most passes came from boot action which I think is a huge strength of Tarvaris Jackson.
1. You must have a QB who has made a quality pre-and post snap read so he can throw to the open area/receiver (Grade: C+)
2. You must have sound protection and an offensive play caller who will move the QB around to assist in protection issues (Grade: D-)
3. You must have the receivers and QB on the same page. (Grade: D-)
The good news? It’s just the Pre-Season. My grades matter about as much as a win would. What matters most is that this preseason is being used like a proper mini camp would. These are scrimmages where concepts are being taught, and evaluation is being done. The coaches are working through weaknesses right now by on field reps and then reviewing film for correction. The extensive use of protection schemes that isolate James Carpenter one on one with a defender is good for his development, even though he is struggling mightily.
This third game dress rehearsal stuff you hear from NFL talking heads is fine for teams with established systems. In my opinion, that just doesn’t apply in Seattle. The Seahawks are just trying to install an offensive system with tons of new players under a huge time crunch. Have faith Seahawk fans! It’s ugly right now, but it’s always darkest before dawn.
The Cover 3 Awards. Pre-Season week 2 Edition.By Will McDougle
When watching any losing performance in real time it’s hard to put a positive spin on it. I like many Seahawk fans watched in disgust as play after play, just didn’t materialize. Drives stalled, our receivers failed to get separation, and even when they did the line had not protected enough for the QB to see the throw. The cynic in me wondered if we could win 4 games this year..Then I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and re-watched the entire game. I watched every play several times. Yes, it took a minute but I’m so glad I did, because a few things stood out to me that didn’t at first.
Typically in the Cover 3 articles I will discuss three individuals who had a positive impact on the game. This week it just seemed more appropriate with all the Charlie Whitehurst supporters clammoring for his chance to start, to address the one player who has taken most of the heat and explain three reasons why he actually saved the team from complete embarrassment.
Ladies and Gentleman, I sumbit to you: Tarvaris Jackson
Tarvaris Jackson’s performance in this game made me realize more than ever that Pete Carroll knows what he’s doing. I won’t post his stats because you know them. If you are a casual fan you may think he played horribly. Know this. In my opinion Jackson is the only quarterback on this roster with the right mixture of quickness and throwing ability to succeed behind our offensive line in 2011. But don’t let my unimportant opinion sway you, lets look at the facts.
1. He can handle the pass rush. Tarvaris Jackson has yet to see many clean pockets to throw from. Here is a small clip of that very issue courtesy of NFL.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJjySjdfr7g . On one occasion after the other in the Vikings game a rusher came free, or the line was pushed seven yards into the backfield before Jackson could finish his drop and set up to throw. Rookie Right Tackle James Carpenter low lights a group of Seahawks offensive linemen lacking the required amount of experience and cohesiveness. Play after play, Carpenter was dominated by the defensive end to the point it looked hopeless. I assume for where we selected him in the draft,he’ll get better. Problem is right now he’s getting abused on inside, outside and bull rush moves. I’ll also add that the offensive line struggles lead to several pocket collapses that would have been sacks for Charlie Whitehurst. There I said it Charlie fans..Sorry I had to.
2. He’s a tough playmaker. Simply put, he has made GREAT plays with his feet to extend disastrous plays. He’s not as spectacular to watch scramble as say, Mike Vick, but when he does its effective and only happens after he has exhausted all other options. I love the fact that he refuses to force the ball into tight coverage under pressure. His ability to hit the Tight Ends with throws that gave them the ability to run after the catch was impressive considering he watched those completions while he lay flat on his back. The only grossly errant throw I charted was on a quick fade route to Sidney Rice down the right side. Both throws to Golden Tate were on point, and he hit all other open receivers with crisp passes. All that leads me to number three reason he impressed me.
3. He Managed the game. I don’t care what people say, game managers are a coaches best friend. There is only so many elite players in the world and having a player who doesn’t lose the game and know’s the offense can win you games..Several times during the first half it was very obvious to me that his experience with the offense allowed him to audible or easily identify the hot read. His only misread was a play where Jared Allen was left free to rush when Tyler Polumbus read Weakside Linebacker, blocked to the inside and let him go. It’s the QB’s responsibility to understand the blocking scheme rules in place and adjust. If you think it is strange that I would highlight a negative play in a segment that is intended to do the opposite you are right. I thought it was appropriate to highlight because even when he made that one mistake he was able to make Jared Allen whiff and extend the play.
So there it is. For this game I’m a Tarvaris Jackson supporter. I won’t even go into Charlie Whitehurst other than to say he did exactly what he was supposed to do. He played well against a tissue soft Vikings defense who begged him to throw underneath routes. He executed flawlessly in a drastically different game situation. For the Madden fans out there it was like Tarvaris was on All Madden, and handed the controller to Charlie on Pro. But that wasn’t the story of the game for me. The real story is how truly amazing and difficult it is to watch our offense right now. Without a regular off-season where a team can install the offense and work on the small details in the meeting rooms, it’s clear Tarvaris Jackson’s athleticism combined with his experience makes him the starter week one without question. I hope for the teams sake the receivers can cut him some slack and avoid the frustration that comes from running route after route without too many catches.
Tarvaris Jackson always wanted a shot to be “the man” in Minnesota. With the current state of the offensive line play, he may regret having had that wish granted in Seattle.