It’s only appropriate that our first post of this year’s Offseason Rewind series begins at the quarterback position.
And sorry to create some emotional anxiety with that nice weather outside, but we’ll focus on a couple plays that caused some agony during the regular season
Needing a field goal to win the game late against San Francisco, Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson scrambled to his right and looked like he had enough to pick up a first down. But 49ers linebacker Larry Grant stripped him of the ball from behind and safety Donte Whitner recovered the ball to seal the game for San Francisco.
And you probably remember this one, right? Down 20-17 to Washington with just over two minutes left on fourth down, Jackson failed to get the ball out knowing the blitz was coming, taking an all-too-familiar, momentum-sapping sack in an eventual 23-17 loss to the Redskins.
It’s no secret that quarterback Tarvaris Jackson struggled in late-game situations last year. While Jackson finished 7-7 as a starter in his first year in Seattle, gutting out most the year with a torn pectoral muscle on the throwing side of his shoulder, he failed to lead Seattle to a game-winning score on final drives against Atlanta, Washington, San Francisco and Arizona.
Jackson’s numbers in the final two minutes of halves during 2011 tell the story.
And in fact, a closer look at Jackson’s career numbers during the two-minute drill show a real struggle in the final minutes of a half.
While the sample size is smaller, here’s Matt Flynn’s stats in the final two minutes of halves in his only two career starts.
So what do you think? Can a quarterback develop a closer’s mentality and learn how to move a team to within scoring position late in a contest with a game on the line?
It ain’t gonna happen
The prevailing opinion in Jackson’s case would be no. Detractors would point to Jackson’s six years spent in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense and the fact that Jackson still holds onto the ball too long, a sure sign that it takes him too long to read defenses and find the open man.
They will point to the fact that a player who’s supposed to have good athletic ability took 42 sacks last year, that Seattle has a young, inexperienced receiving unit led by a No. 1 receiver in Sidney Rice who has struggled to stay healthy, and protected by an inexperienced offensive line also plagued by injuries.
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
But there’s also room for hope if you believe that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll is being honest when he says that money will not factor into the decision on who earns the starting quarterback job Week 1.
For one, Jackson still fits the mold as the type of quarterback Carroll would like to lead his team — a tough, gritty leader with a rifle arm who doesn’t turn the ball over, can move outside the pocket and push the ball down the field.
Despite his struggles in late-game situations and on third downs (65.6 passer rating, No. 27 overall), Jackson was efficient in the red zone, throwing for nine touchdowns and just one interception, and posting a 90.1 passer rating.
Jackson can also look to someone like former Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson for inspiration. While with Washington, Johnson posted a 27.3 passer rating during 2-minute situations for the Redskins in 2000. But during Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl season, while running a similar, run-based offense that leaned on a strong defense, Johnson finished with an 81.2 passer rating during 2-minute situations.