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Tarvaris Jackson, Accurate Passer

Tarvaris Jackson had a good game. So did Pernell McPhee, also pictured, but he doesn't play for us, so.
Tarvaris Jackson had a good game. So did Pernell McPhee, also pictured, but he doesn't play for us, so.

I think this is the first time I'm writing about Tarvaris Jackson in a story. I always thought the move to get him made sense, compared to the high price tag on the likes of Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb and Andy Dalton. But my opinion on him changed from being unimpressed when scouting him with the Vikings, to horrified at seeing him play in the pre-season, to mild hope that he's a good enough stopgap now.  He's put up a few impressive games, particularly week 4 against Atlanta, in some ways his three quarters against Cincinnati in week 8, and now this performance against Baltimore.

One thing my pre-season notes on Tarvaris said was "more accurate than Charlie Whitehurst". That sounded odd watching him play earlier this season, but accuracy is made up of different parts of a quarterback's play. The willingness to take shots, the ability to keep a clear head, the arm to throw accurately at different distances. Tarvaris is not willing to thread the needle most of the time, and it's reasonably to suspect he's coached not to take risky shots. But taking that out of the equation, the biggest part of it seems to be comfort in the pocket versus his natural throwing ability. Tarvaris is a good thrower, but his pocket presence is probably amongst the worst of any starting quarterback in the league.

In that sense, neither Seattle nor Minnesota were ideal for him. The Vikings O-line was once good, including in Tarvaris' rookie year, but they've always been better run-blocking than pass-blocking line. The Hawks O-line has a similar run-blocking-oriented bend to it, and is young, inexperienced, and mostly plain old bad so far. Tarvaris never really learned to throw on the run because Bevell always taught him to throw while in the pocket. When flushed, Tarvaris passes badly and rarely sets his feet. When pressured, Tarvaris panics and guns for the WRs knees or throws it up so at least it's out of the DB's range, which hangs up the receivers to take some hard hits. I might be wrong, but what I'm getting is that his erratic throwing is situational and caused by pressure, but when the flow is right, he has the potential to throw well with good timing.

And we saw that when hosting Baltimore. No touchdowns and no interceptions, but this was his best game in a Seahawks uniform. Statistically he's had slightly better games in completion percentage and yards-per-attempts (the two stats I usually use if I wanted to judge a quarterback at a quick statistical glance), but if you watch the game footage, and consider the level of opposition, there's no real question. Football Outsiders agrees with me, they have him as the 5th-best quarterback of the week, with a pass DYAR of 111. Against Cincy he had 72, and against Atlanta (with only mild opponent adjustment at that point) he had 83. 


3-9-SEA 29 (1:59) (Shotgun) T.Jackson pass short left to B.Obomanu to SEA 39 for 10 yards (Ca.Williams).

On this play Obomanu and Doug Baldwin line up left, Sidney Rice to the right. The Ravens are playing press-man. Rice is Jackson's first read but he appears to be driven to the sideline with the corner shielding him. Jackson shifts, first to Baldwin (whose is still in his route, not looking for the catch) then to Obomanu, who did a quick comeback near the 1st down marker to create separation. The coverage is good, but the throw is really well-timed. Ben Obomanu is making a career pretty much out of creating separation.

3-9-SEA 25 (7:21) (Shotgun) T.Jackson pass deep left to D.Baldwin pushed ob at BLT 25 for 50 yards (B.Pollard).

If you watched Seahawks All Access on the official site you probably noticed Doug Baldwin talking to Bevell at 03:59: "Anything you want deep, 25 can not cover me". Next play they show is this one, which is an odd choice, because #25 (Chris Carr) is not covering Baldwin on this play. He is lined up on Baldwin in the slot, but he runs a corner blitz, with Bernard Pollard picking up coverage on Baldwin deep.

Ravens are in nickel on this play, and the Seahawks release everyone: Sidney Rice and Mike Williams run go routes as the flanker and split end. They never show the exact routes deep on TV, but Baldwin is crossing out of the slot about 40 yards downfield. Zach Miller chips and Justin Forsett releases, both run quick outs. Since the Ravens are blitzing and the Seahawks put in no extra protection, you wouldn't expect it to hold up, and it doesn't. Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee get a great jump off the snap. Unger does a really good job getting his hands under Ngata's pads and walking him off, but McPhee is stunting inside and Lemuel Jeanpierre loses him. Okung and Gallery are doubling up on Cory Redding so McPhee pretty much comes in unblocked. With two quick outs available, you'd think that by design Tarvaris is "supposed to" dump-off here. But he scrambles, keeps his eyes downfield, passes in the middle of a jump, and hits Doug Baldwin perfectly. Not a throw I'd have expected him to make looking at him play weeks ago, when he'd have his eyes downfield but wouldn't really look to pass, and threw horrible jump-balls. Impressive.

3-5-BLT 20 (5:49) (Shotgun) T.Jackson pass incomplete deep right to Z.Miller [E.Reed].

This one was a shame. Miller was well open on a corner route, but the Ravens overloaded the right side, with three men coming in on Carpenter's end. He picks up the inside man, and Forsett cuts low on one of the others, but that leaves Ed Reed blitzing in. Meanwhile, Haloti Ngata throws his shoulder and balls back Jeanpierre, who commits an uncalled holding penalty but still can't contain him. Not the only unflagged penalty I saw our offensive line make, which probably helped their performance quite a bit.

Throwing with Reed and Ngata in your face is not easy, and consequently Tarvaris can not step into the throw. Miller tries adjusting his route but comes just short.

1-10-BLT 31 (3:04) (Shotgun) T.Jackson pass short right to S.Rice pushed ob at BLT 22 for 9 yards (C.Carr).

Seahawks line up four wide, with Baldwin, Rice and Obomanu on the right. Jackson looks to his right, Obomanu is really well-covered, while Baldwin and Rice are both open on outs. The pocket is collapsing, and Pernell McPhee hits Tarvaris right as he is throwing. Good job staying cool under pressure.

1-10-BLT 18 (1:45) T.Jackson pass incomplete deep left to S.Rice (Ca.Williams).

Seahawks line up two WRs right, two tight ends on the line (left and right) and Lynch in the backfield. Ravens threaten five but rush four. Zach Miller, Mike Williams and Sidney Rice release into their routes immediately. Both Anthony McCoy and Marshawn Lynch look for extra blitzers but as OLB Jarret Johnson hangs back they release into their routes. Okung just dominates Cory Redding. Gallery handles Brand McKinney. Jeanpierre and Unger double up on Ngata. Carpenter throws his shoulder into Terrell Suggs' midrif. Not sure where he learned that and I'm pretty sure it's illegal, but it works. Tarvaris has loads of time before Suggs is back up and McKinney beats Gallery. He throws before either one is close. It's an ok throw but does lack zip. Rice is right in position in the endzone to catch it, but it bounces off the helm of Ravens defender Cary Williams, who is not even looking at the ball. Lucky break for the Ravens here.

3-9-BLT 17 (:57) T.Jackson pass incomplete deep right to D.Baldwin (C.Carr). SEA-D.Baldwin was injured during the play. His return is Questionable.

Tarvaris doesn't get a load of time as Okung is beaten by the OLB's spin move (Paul Kruger, I think), and the right side of the pocket is not holding up either. Williams and Baldwin are both deep towards the corner of the endzone, and Tarvaris throws a pretty spiral that Baldwin lunges for. The ball is right on Baldwin's hands, and you can't say number 25 Chris Carr bats it out of his hands. Normally one Baldwin would've hauled in. Like the last pass, the Ravens got away with one here. Baldwin and Ravens CB Lardarius Webb land awkwardly and are a bit shaken up.

3-3-SEA 49 (13:20) G.Tate right end to SEA 44 for -5 yards (C.Carr). Officially a lateral.

This one's just in here because of how much I hated it. Empty backfield, one receiver left, four receivers in diamond formation right with Tate behind three guys. Prior to the snap, two Ravens corners line up in front of the diamond, as well as both Brendon Ayanbadejo (wow, he's still around?) and Bernard Pollard on this painfully telegraphed play. It is essentially dead before the snap, it was just a question of how many yards we would lose. The answer comes in Anthony McCoy halfheartedly blocking Chris Carr, who brings down Tate five yards behind the LoS. Awful.

3-5-SEA 25 (4:44) (Shotgun) T.Jackson pass short left to G.Tate pushed ob at SEA 49 for 24 yards (E.Reed).

A lot of attention on Lynch's BeastJuke in this drive, but this is another really important 3rd down. The Seahawks were backed up all the way to the 10, 1st & 20, after two 5-yard penalties (Okung moved his shoulders for a false start, and Tate had an illegal motion). Then: Tate for 10, Lynch for 5, Tate for 24.

Tate's in the slot with Chris Carr on him. He gets Carr to bite slightly on him running inside, then shifts towards the sideline, moves around Carr and just outruns him from there. Reed sniffed out the pass, as he's wont to, but Tarvaris times it perfectly between the corner and safety, and throws a great pass. Reed at least controls the damage by standing up and muscling Tate out of bounds.