Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports put out an interesting column yesterday that revealed some choice words Pete Carroll and John Schneider had on Tarvaris Jackson's history with the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks' GM and Head Coach didn't seem to agree with the coaching and management of Jackson, Carroll opining that "He has not been in a good situation. He's been jerked around. We wanted to put him in a stable situation."
John Schneider didn't mince words when he added, "He's 28 years old, and quite frankly, was [expletive] on for four years."
Interesting words and sentiment from the Seahawks GM. Schneider refers to Jackson's entire history with the Vikings, but alludes more specifically to recent history, where Jackson was named the starter in 2008 but yanked by HC Brad Childress after only two games. This was a fairly quick reaction after an offseason spent gushing to the press about how much Tarvaris had improved.
Jackson was, again, the assumed starter going into each season in 2009 and 2010, only to be usurped by Brett Favre at the last minute both years. The last two seasons of being 'jerked around' have less to do with the Vikings front office and more to do with the way Brett Favre does his business (waiting until after training camp to come to the team), in my opinion, but in any case, Jackson handled it with poise and class.
After the season that Brett Favre had in 2009, I can't blame the Vikings for bringing him back in 2010, though they way they went about it raised some eyebrows. That said, it's fair to say that John Schneider comes from an organization that doesn't play that type of game. Most people know how the Brett Favre/Packers divorce went down in Green Bay back in '08, and John Schneider was in the front office that went through with the unpopular transition to Aaron Rodgers.
As Mike Silver qouted in his piece, "I was around Aaron when Aaron went through it," says Schneider, who spent eight seasons (2002-09) in Green Bay's front office. "Seeing that firsthand, a guy that can handle all that - it's an impressive thing. I think Tarvaris did that. And, let's face it, Pete's great for this situation. He has an innate ability to instill confidence in people. That's Pete's God-given gift."
Some people may roll their eyes at this kind of thing, but after seeing Carroll first-person in a coaching clinic and watching him at Training Camp, I believe he does have an ability to positively affect his players and their performance. He wouldn't be the first coach in the world to have gotten more out of a player than the previous guy. It's not a pie in the sky type of thing -- it happens. Whether it happens here with Pete and Tarvaris is the big question, and is surely not a given, but I'm not completely discounting the idea yet. I'm not sitting here hoping Jackson will turn into Aaron Rodgers, but I can envision a scenario where he plays better than he did in Minnesota. It is possible, after all -- again, I'm not predicting it will happen, but assuming it's impossible ignores precedent.
Regardless, you do have to respect that Jackson kept his mouth shut for the most part and just worked hard to get to point where he could prove his critics wrong. He has now been given that opportunity because his head coach and GM recognized his strong character and potential.
Jackson himself appreciates the change and Pete Carroll's coaching style: "Oh yeah, it's a lot different. Here it's all about positive feedback. You can appreciate it as a quarterback: All the dog-cussing and yelling really isn't good when you play this position. You know when you mess up, when you did something wrong. Here, it's a focus on what you did right and how you can get better. I'm comfortable with that."
I'm not here to judge Brad Childress' coaching style, but there is a well-documented history of hostility between Chilly and Brett Favre,-- a well-established, veteran, future hall-of-famer that led the team to within a hair of the Super Bowl. It must have sure been fun being the unestablished, inexperienced quarterback learning the game and getting 'dog-cussed' along the way at every mistake. I'm not excusing Jackson's mediocre play to this, but simply pointing to the fact that this type of situation can be poisonous to some players and rarely do you see this type of coaching in the modern NFL. Do you see Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren chewing out their players and fighting constantly with them?
A lot of people were surprised when the Seahawks named Tarvaris their starting QB before Training Camp even began, but these quotes point to the idea that the front office is trying to put Jackson in a situation where he can flourish. There have been doubts that Pete Carroll's coaching philosophies and style can translate to the NFL-- namely his dedication to positive reinforcement, trust-building, and the energizing of his players-- and the jury is still out on whether or not they're right in their doubts. Proper judgement, either way, won't come quickly though.
A lot of Jackson's success or failure will hinge on other things beside his confidence -- can the run game establish a foothold? Can the line stay healthy? Can Bevell's offense pick up some momentum and reverse what happened last season? Can the Seahawks' skill players play to their potential? Jackson's play will largely depend on these things clicking as well.
I've talked about why I think the Seahawks are going with Jackson as their starter and so have a multitude of other writers and bloggers. Jackson has more experience starting in the NFL and this is important, but more important is the fact that he is familiar with Darrell Bevell's offense and it's shiniest weapon, Sidney Rice. Plugging Charlie Whitehurst in immediately, with barely a few weeks of preparation learning the offense and getting on the same page as it's number one player is simply illogical when compared to the alternative.
So will the new situation and confidence building help? Hopefully. I have to figure that it can't hurt.