By Mike Salk
How the heck am I supposed to tell what kind of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson can be in Seattle? Every time he drops back to pass, he looks like he's playing bumper cars in the pocket!
Jackson dropped back 27 times against the Broncos on Saturday. He only got to throw 22 passes. That means he was sacked 18.5 percent of the time! The rest of the plays weren't much better as he completed just 13 balls. Take away the five completions against the backup defense, and he was sacked on nearly 23 percent of his attempts!
Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was under constant pressure against the Broncos. (AP)
Clearly, protection is an issue for the Seahawks right now, but why? Here are the possibilities:
1. The starting offensive line isn't good or hasn't gelled yet.
This seems like the most obvious answer. Rookie James Carpenter struggled on the edge as did reserve tackle Tyler Polumbus. There were way too many plays ending in disaster with a few lineman looking around for someone to block. Maybe they need more time together, but two of the linemen have never played in the league (Carpenter and John Moffitt) and another has limited experience (Max Unger). We have no idea if they can play at this level.
2. Russell Okung means that much to this line.
Hopefully, this is the answer. Okung was the No. 6 pick in the 2010 draft and is already ranked as the 12th best tackle in the game according to Scouts Inc. We know that protecting the blind side and shutting down the top pass rushing ends are the most important things a line can accomplish. Hopefully, the Hawks just need their best lineman back in order to have time to operate.
3. Tarvaris Jackson is at fault.
Jackson hasn't had much time, but maybe he isn't helping his cause. We know that some quarterbacks are intricately involved in setting protection schemes. Maybe Jackson hasn't contributed in that part of the game. He was named the starter because of his supposed comfort with this offense -- the team needs that comfort to translate into confidence on the field.
Could there have been plays that he should have changed at the line of scrimmage to avoid the pressure? Are there plays that he should have released the ball earlier? All possibilities ... but let's remember, he was successful in making those calls against the backup defense in the third quarter. While I don't put too much stock in physical accomplishments against backups, the mental aspect of the game shouldn't change too significantly. It makes me assume that Jackson has the mental gameplan down.
4. There is no one open
A completed pass takes two to tango. Just as the quarterback needs to deliver the ball, receivers need to get open. On the few plays where Jackson seemed to have time to survey the field, he seemed hesitant to pull the trigger. Why? Were his receivers well covered?
It would be nice to have an easy answer. Unfortunately, television only offers so many angles and so many replays. Fortunately, the coaching staff will look at the game film and make their determinations. With any luck, it will be an easy fix in time for Week 1 in San Francisco.