Yesterday, when addressing the Week 8 loss to Cincinnati, I put Tarvaris Jackson as the picture representing the post. This is ironic because I failed to mention him or even bring up his importance to the Seahawks.
Though Whitehurst sealed the deal in Week 5, the increased efficiency and potential of the offense is apparent with with Jackson under center, the value of his experience has now become clearer. After the Cleveland loss I noted that the fans may now unite around Jackson; conversely, Whitehurst got booed last week when he entered for a 4th down play late in the game.
The time that Jackson spent off the field over the course of three games was equivalent to clock time of roughly two games. There are only nine games left and the Seahawks are simply trying to get rolling and out of this hole created by a two-game slide. Jackson needs to be the quarterback for those nine games, it was clear after the game.
One of the most memorable moments for me about the loss to the Bengals came after the Cincinnati pick-six, when the camera became fixated on Jackson on the sideline. He was staring at the ground and then appeared to look at someone with this "really… we’ve got to fix this..." type look.
This happened after Jackson hurt his knee on the third to last drive, but went back in on the next drive. He proceeded to get crunched when throwing a pick to Reggie Nelson, but got back up to chase Nelson down the field before he scored. One thing is clear: T-Jax is one tough dude and is the leader of this offense.
Right after Jackson shifted his vision, Carroll walked at Jackson across the screen, with body language that I thought was on a very similar level to that of Jackson. It wasn't a hostile look and I’m speculating, but it looked like it was a starting QB and coach, "what the hell do we do next?" type exchange. This was my interpretation based on the TV camera angle and for whatever reason the exchange gave me more confidence in Jackson.
This post is sort of an extension of my post from yesterday, which I fear may have been misconstrued a bit. In a nutshell, the Seahawks are finding themselves in a position where they need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps after losing two very winnable games. That look on Jackson's face said it all: it's gut check time. Time to get this ship righted. As the quarterback and captain, a lot of that is on him.
In recent days Carroll praised Jackson's toughness, trying to stress to the media that this is a major injury ailing Jackson. Apparently Jackson is not 100% and it's possible he will deal with pain all season. The impression I've gotten about the injury is that it's a matter of pain tolerance. It seems as though Jackson is ready to and currently tolerating that pain.
I definitely think his absence has contributed to the little losing streak, but I’m also happy we’ve learned the marked difference between Whitehurst and Jackson. Heading into the Cleveland game there was some sentiment the "drop off" wasn’t considerable. Now, there is certainly less of that.
We saw the no huddle work well with Jackson on multiple occasions before his injury, and at times it was explosive. The success in the no huddle allowed the Seahawks to go to an up-tempo, tone setting offense. Heading into the Cleveland game, one of the concerns I did address was the offense potentially having issues adjusting to Whitehurst’s cadence. Unfortunately, it looked as though it was an issue.
Carroll went as far as to say in retrospect, part of the reason they think the no huddle hasn’t worked as well in the past few games is because Jackson hasn’t been back to keep it going. It's worth noting that Seattle moved the ball well against Cincinnati by mixing the no huddle instead of relying on it. But now that he's potentially back, Seattle can continue experimenting.
We’re now at nearly midseason and the Seahawks are in a tenuous situation at 2-5, but it helps that we know who should be the quarterback. I’ve said repeatedly to a few people; I wouldn’t truly be satisfied with 2011 if we didn’t at least see a glimpse of Charlie Whitehurst. I think a lot of people felt this way.
I was admittedly hopeful going into Cleveland, and now I must admit I'm over it (not to make judgment on how Whitehurst's career will turn out). The somewhat selfish hope to see Whitehurst start has been more than satisfied. I’m fine with the flop, because it brought clarity.
Regardless of what’s "realistic," this team doesn’t want to lose a lot of games this year. Jackson is intent on playing if he can and wants to get some wins. And for an offense that needs to "get rid of the newness" and desires consistency along the offensive line, I for one am appreciative Jackson could start this weekend and more importantly, its clear he is the right choice.