This is the fifth in a series of posts designed to build on Davis' theory of the Green Bay Roster Model and its concepts therein. In this theory, there will be a roster churn every year, averaging about 13 players a year. This series expands on those hypothetical concepts and asks, where will the churn hit? In my first four installments - Wide Receivers , Offensive Line, Defensive Line and linebackers, I talked about who might be possibly cut this year to make room for the potential 13 new players that come onto the roster, on average, every year.
It was tempting to make an individual post for each position in the backfield, but considering there are really only a few players are each position, I felt I had to put them together. Starting with the QB position - no one can debate that with the current rule structure, a position that was already the most critical position has become the focal point of every team. The QB position isn't everything on the field, but not having an elite QB is a handicap, and not having a above average QB is extremely hard to overcome, though not impossible.
No matter what your feelings are on Tarvaris Jackson, the current rookie group or pending free agents, almost every expert and fan can agree that the Seahawks need their QB to play better this next year. How that happens could be completely up in the air.
This time of year rumors always persist. Some are the creation of agents looking to create a bidding war for their clients, some are by teams hoping to force more capital into each trade offer, and some are just the media trying to get readers/watchers interested. This year is no exception.
Already, I have heard rumors about Matt Flynn, Peyton Manning and Jason Campbell signing as free agents. I've heard rumors about trading up in the draft to get Andrew Luck, and now more prevalent - Robert Griffin III. Obviously, lastly, is the option to stay with Tarvaris, I'll expand on that idea more after the jump.
The fullback position is one of interest. The aggressive power run game should dictate a big bruising fullback who can knock linebackers into the next area code. Currently, the fullback is underutilized in the passing game, and inconsistently used for run plays. These are a stark contrast to the usage of Holmgren, who made the fullback a larger part of the offense.
Running back is a critical cog in Pete's offenses. He has repeatedly said he wants to have a balanced offense; in 2011, the Seahawks ran the ball 43% of the time. With more 3rd down conversions from the QB play we might see that number go up this year. The depth at RB, one of the preseason perceived strengths, felt like a weakness during the season. How much of that is actual weakness and how much is the elevation of the rest of the positions?
6'2" 225 4.68-40YD
Wonderlic: 19 Vertical: 31.5
The Tarvaris Jackson signing was somewhat of a head-scratcher at the beginning of the season. Matt Hasselbeck had thrown 63% for at a 7.8 Y/A and 4:1 TD:INT ratio against the Saints. Going into the lockout, both sides said they wanted to make a deal. That didn't happen, and almost subsequently Tarvaris was signed and handed the starting job.
This move may not be as much of a head-scratcher as many thought at first. First off, the offensive line was going to consist of four players who had a combined total of 27 games experience. That was going to mean a lot of hits, and Hasselbeck probably would not be able to take those hits. Tarvaris Jackson had and has proven to be a very duruable player. The Seahawks Oline gave up 50 sacks and 115 QB hits. Tarvaris recieved the lion's share of those hits.
Tarvaris took the hits, stood tall and used his cannon of an arm to get the ball deep. Surprisingly, with all the critics of his accuracy, he was still able to maintain a modest 6.9 Y/A (Tied 19th) and over 60% (17th) completion rate. Tarvaris' main issue is his throwing mechanics - he loves to throw off balance and frequently while jumping. This generally doesn't affect his strength - he has arguably one of the strongest arms in the NFL and the ball pops out of his hand. It does, however, affect his accuracy, often not leading receivers enough. His vision/read progression can also be an issue, as he frequently will throw a receiver into a defender or miss an open man.
Tarvaris, so far, has been an average starter, and an exceptional backup, he is cheap so he will stay on the roster this year no matter what the Seahawks do. If the Seahawks draft a rookie outside of Luck or Griffin, then I believe Tarvaris will have the whole year to prove he can be the QBotF.
These videos, to me, show what Tarvaris is all about.
6'5" 225 Lbs 4.75- 40YD
Wonderlic : 33 Vertical: 33
Charlie Whitehurst was traded for as competition to push Matt Hasselbeck but in the end he couldn't push Hass nor Tarvaris. He isn't a complete bust, having shown mediocre games against St Louis and the New York Giants in two games with the Hawks, but his bad games far outweighed the good ones. Charlie isn't bad in a Caleb Hanie or Curtis Painter way, but he has played poorly enough in several opportunities, namely Tampa Bay and Cleveland, to almost guarentee that he is the odd man out when new talent comes in.
Charlie would actually be a very nice 3rd QB, but that role is almost always held for developmental talent. Charlie has a powerful arm, but has serious issues with accuracy, he is often off on timing routes, and sometimes looks to misread defenses. Getting the ball to hot routes, and calling audibles are not even in his box of skills. Although I don't think he is washed up, I do believe he is washed out of Seattle.
6'3" 211 4.59-40YD
Wonderlic : N/A Vertical: 40
Josh Portis is an athlete who plays QB. He was inconsistent in college, having to sit out a year for transfer, and bouncing around to several schools. He set records at a smaller school (California PA). He had major ups and downs in the preseason, but flashed some ability. Obviously, there are a few things to think about with that flash, as his snaps came against 3rd/4th team talent, and many of the players he played against did not even make rosters. That being said, JP did show a little something that at least makes the curious mind wonder how he will develop this year. If another rookie is drafted high, then JP may get stuck in 3rd QB limbo, but if there is a low round draft choice, Portis may have made enough strides to move into second on the depth chart.
Considering the Seahawks didnt have to waste draft capital on Portis, and how little we saw him last year, Portis could be anywhere from contending to start next year, to being cut. I believe it really comes down to FA/Drafting if he makes the squad or not.
6'1" 240 4.56-40YD
Wonderlic: N/A Verticle: 33
Mike Robinson used to be undersized, but adding weight the last two years has made him more the prototypical FB. He has great hands, decent speed, takes great angles and has exceptional technique. He is a former QB so he has suprise play potential, and now can add Pro Bowler to his list of accomplishments.
Adding the extra weight doesn't seem to have impaired Mike Robinsons agility.
For further evidence of Mike's ability, watch the Leon Washington clips where Mike's blocks sprung Leon several times, or the Marshawn Lynch high lights, Mike is, at times, pancaking people.
Mike is a free agent, and he is no longer a secret, I fully expect other teams to look at him in the same way they did Leonard Weaver. He has exceptional skills in everything you could ask from a fullback. The thing is, that utilizing a FB was never a major part of what Carroll has wanted to. The fullback is underutilized in the offense, and if we get a great TE to match Miller, the FB role could shrink even more. Robinson may give us the home town discount, but a smaller role and smaller paycheck might be just too much for the Pro-Bowler.
5' 8" 198 4.44-40YD
Wonderlic: 35 Vertical: 31
Force has been one of better backs the Seahawks have had for a few years. Compared to the likes of TJ Duckett and Julius Jones, Force looked amazing. Something about the zone blocking scheme, or the fact that he was mostly used in pass blocking, really hindred Justin this year.
Justin was never built to be a 30-carry-a-game guy, but he had always been able to maintain a decent yards per carry average. He also used to be able to break at few of these a season. Unfortunately, Justin has declined the last two years, going from 5.4 YPC to 4.4 YPC to 3.2 YPC. Also unfortunately for Justin, the league is chock-full of backs that can carry for over 4 YPC. What might save Justin is that he can pass block really well, something that many backs can not do effectively.
Justin is a free agent, and with Marshawn most likely getting franchised/long term deal signed, and Washington already locked up into a deal, Justin looks to be the odd man out if the FO decides to bring in a FA or Rookie RB. Though Carroll typically likes to have only three RB on the roster, its possible he could keep four.
5'8" 201 4.41-40YD
Wonderlic: N/A Vertical: 32.5
Leon has always been a dynamic punt returner, with a great burst of speed and one-cut-and-go ability. This year he didnt get any returns for TDs, but he showed he is just as dynamic in the run game, and also had several very good returns as well.
Leon Washington is worth every penny just in the return game ($3 million- $2 million base + $1 million roster bonus + incentives), but he needs to be a bigger factor in the Seahawks offense.
Leon isn't ideally built for a zone running scheme because he can do down easily to arm tackles. Getting him to the edge, or in space in the short passing game can really utilize his amazing explosiveness. Either way, Leon is a big part of this team and could become a key cog on offense if Forsett is released.
Two years ago Marshawn Lynch looked like the third best back in Buffalo, a troubled man who had fallen out with his team and city. Fast forward to the 2010 Playoffs and a beast was born. Marshawn had always had the hard working, fight-for-every-yard attitude, but in the Saints game Beast Mode was born. He fights for every yard, he refuses to go down, and after years of seeing Alexander run out of bounds there is just something great about a guy who is willing to put a defender on their ass.
This year Marshawn not only showed that beastquake was no fluke (0:10, 1:10, 1:49), but he also started showing some of his agility (0:52) and speed (0:55). For those who think they dont wanna pay top dollar for a running back, this encompasses my entire argument for signing Marshawn. Either way, Marshawn will be back as a franchise tag or as a long term deal.
5'11" 235 4.56-40YD
Wonderlic: 18 Vertical: 29
Allen Bradford will be converted to a Linebacker.
Vai Taua 5'10" 211 4.71-40YD Wonderlic: N/A Vertical 34.5
Vai may be a good bruising back, but he lacks speed to hit the hole and is way too slow to break off big runs. I think the fact that he kept being brought on the roster is more indicative of lack of depth than a testament of Taua. He is a smaller slower version of Thomas Clayton who the Seahawks didnt keep on the active roster.
Others: Tyrell Sutton; Jay Finley (?)
Staying: Tarvaris Jackson, Leon Washington
Free agency Bubble: Mike Robinson, Marshawn Lynch
Talent Bubble: Justin Forsett, Josh Portis
Practice squad Bubble: Via Taua, Allen Bradford, Tyrell Sutton, Jay Finley
Out: Charlie Whitehurst