RENTON, Wash. – Tarvaris Jackson can’t practice with the Seattle Seahawks yet, but that doesn’t mean the former Minnesota Viking can’t move ahead of Charlie Whitehurst on the depth chart.
Jackson, who like other free agents cannot suit up until the new collective bargaining agreement is finalized, was named the team’s starting quarterback by coach Pete Carroll Saturday, a somewhat surprising move given how much Carroll loves to preach competition. But Carroll said that, given the situation, it is best for the team to make Jackson the starter because he played for new Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota.
Given the situation, the realities of the lockout trumped competition.
“In this situation, to make it the most competitive for our team, Tarvaris needs to be our starter right now,” Carroll said. “He comes in as our starter, he’s going to own that position until Charlie and the next couple of fellows at that spot get a chance to catch up, and then the competition will begin from their end.”
Carroll explained that as the lockout went on, the best move was to bring in Jackson, who knows Bevell’s offense as well as anyone having spent five seasons with Bevell as his coordinator.
“Things changed during this offseason,” Carroll said. “… The more we saw it coming, the more we realized we needed continuity and we needed continuity we could generate in a very short amount of time, and without question as a staff across the board, we realized that because of our background in our offense with (line coach Tom Cable) and Darrell coming together, if we could capture Tarvaris into this thing, who has been with Darrell for five years, we could hit it running full speed.”
So what does that mean for Whitehurst, whom a year ago was being touted by Carroll and GM John Schneider as a possible long-term answer at QB? According to Carroll, it doesn’t mean the team has lost any faith in the player they gave up a third-round pick – not to mention a healthy chunk of change – to acquire.
“In my mind nothing has changed,” Carroll said. “This is just a competitive decision because of the timeframe that we’re dealing with. It’s strictly that. This is not the purely competitive situation I would like it to be, but the other side of it, I think that to compete for our team, this is the right thing to do. So that overrides the individual.”
Whitehurst will have extra time to get caught up thanks to the rule that is keeping free agents from practicing until Thursday, and at some point Carroll envisions a time when Whitehurst can compete for the job. But Carroll made it clear he views Jackson as his starter when the Seahawks open the season in San Francisco.
“Charlie is still to me a guy that has a big future for us and we’ll see where it hits, but we’ve got to get ready in a very condensed time frame, so it doesn’t allow it to be as purely open,” Carroll said. “I can’t be that patient right now, the situation did not allow for that.”
For Jackson, being named the starter is a welcome change after two seasons of Brett Favre drama in Minnesota. Despite some trying times with the Vikings, Jackson said he’s better for what happened the last two years.
“It’s been a different experience, but I think it made me a better quarterback and a better person,” Jackson said. “I found out a lot about myself out there because it was a hard situation. But you know it kind of made me take a second to put things in perspective, how football was my life and was the foremost important thing to me. But now I understand that it can be taken away just like it was taken away when I was starting, and next thing you know I’m on the sideline with a clipboard.”
Jackson, known for his athleticism and big arm, said that arm strength comes from a place you might not expect.
“I get it from my mom,” he said. “She was a shortstop playing softball, so everybody asked where I got my arm and I always say my mom. She had a pretty strong arm.”
As for Whitehurst, he was as gracious about the news as anyone could be in the situation.
“I’m disappointed a little bit, but it’s not necessarily my decision,” Whitehurst said. “I’ve got to go out here and work hard and make the decision for him tougher, I guess, down the road. It’s not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but it’s something I’ve got to live with and just go from here and keep competing every day.”