By Brock Huard
My apologies for those expecting a thorough blog laden with stats and trends as to how the Seahawks will climb from a top-10 defense to a top-five operation in the year ahead. That study and analysis is coming, but on a night where the city of Seattle was rocked with the horrific murders of five innocent victims and a baseball team finally hit, I could hardly pry my eyes away from the tube.
That said, I also couldn't pry my eyes away from the Seahawks practice field yesterday, and for those who say they learn nothing from a two-hour practice in helmets, sorry, because I sure felt like I did.
First and foremost, on a day where Tarvaris Jackson took a majority of the reps with the starters, it has become clear that Jackson peaked in his third year in the league and has not been able to rise from that plateau. He may be very well-liked and even more respected, but the inconsistency of his game as he enters his seventh year in the same system is maddening.
Don't be surprised if the Seahawks ask quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to rework his contract before the season. (AP)
It is hard to imagine Jackson as anything more than a journeyman backup, and at $4.5 million in base salary scheduled for 2012, I'd be willing to bet that in August he'll get the Leroy Hill/Sean Locklear/Marcus Trufant treatment: renegotiate, or else.
Speaking of renegotiating, it has become abundantly clear that is exactly what Chris Clemons' agent, Donal Henderson, would like to do with the Seahawks. More than likely that is why the sack artist with double-digit tallies the last two seasons has been noticeably absent from organized team activities.
Clemons will turn 31 in October, and while oft-injured 34-year-old pass-rusher John Abraham recently got a new three-year deal worth roughly $16 million from the Falcons, Clemons has one year left on the five-year deal he signed with the Eagles that will pay him roughly $4 million this season. John Clayton opined with us yesterday that a short-term deal (two or three years) with an average of $6 million to $7 million would be reasonable. Looking for the last major payday of his career, will Clemons' camp be reasonable?
Unlike the New York Giants, who have Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul and two recent Super Bowl rings to minimize the disgruntled Osi Umenyiora, can the Seahawks' locker room deal with a veteran who's bitter over his contract? While Bruce Irvin had his best day as a Seahawk – and he should in helmets and shorts, where his speed flourishes – Irvin is not at a place in his development to play a thousand snaps.
Best-case scenario: Clemons comes to training camp with his hair on fire, realizing the leverage is not on his side, and puts up eight sacks in eight games and signs a three-year extension midway through the season.
Worst-case scenario: Clemons has a sore knee or hamstring that limits his entire training camp, forces Irvin to play a role he is not ready for, and creates an air of negativity the locker room has not experienced in Pete Carroll's tenure.
Lastly, enough about Russell Wilson's height. Like Barack Obama's birth certificate, can we end this nonsense that he is shorter than what the combine listed him? Danny Fortson went from 6-feet-9 in college to 6-feet-6 for the Sonics for a reason: basketball guys exaggerate their height. Heel to heel, toes out, the combine doesn't lie. Wilson is just under 5-feet-11. Just like the story isn't about Obama's birthplace but about his productivity, the same measure should be made about Wilson.
Wilson had a very solid day, throwing more accurately than he did a week ago and flashing the "resourcefulness" that Carroll covets from the position. While Jackson continued to show why he is average and Matt Flynn actually missed a few targets, Wilson was steady. While the job won't be won in May or June, this practice film will be dissected and studied in the months ahead, and the corresponding stats taken from the film will play a role in assembling the depth chart down the road.
The biggest key for Wilson, like many of the Mariners' youngsters, will be his constant growth and development. In particular, he must avoid what plagued the undersized Doug Flutie: interceptions.
In talking to one team source, while it is easy to rave about the command and control of the offense Wilson has displayed, he has also thrown quite a few interceptions along the way. A season ago, Wilson threw only four in 14 games at Wisconsin on his way to shattering the single-season efficiency mark in college football.
In Carroll's system, where valuing the ball is everything and where Wilson's height may cause him to be blinded to more throws than Jackson or Flynn, he can ill-afford to turn the ball over. This will be worth keeping an eye on as we move into training camp and beyond.