Two Q&As about Tarvaris Jackson

Hey! The Bills have another QB….Sigh. Well, they have to work out a contract with him, but it looks like the Vince Young era is coming to an end. Truth be told, I wasn’t going to do a Q&A but because everyone had an opinion about it, I decided, what the hell? The peeps at The Purple Jesus Diaries are in the house to tell me about Tarvaris Jackson. But first, we have Matthew over at Seahawk Addicts to dish the dirt on TJ. It is a more positive review than what the Purple Jesus people had.

1) How did Jackson fair in Seattle last year?

 Better than expected, actually.  When he came to Seattle last year, Vikings fans were more than happy to tell us at length how awful he was.  Then Pete Carroll went ahead and named Jackson the starter not long after signing him, which made the situation worse.  You see, Charlie Whitehurst had been brought in on a trade in 2010 to be Matt Hasselbeck’s heir apparent, and while he struggled for much of that year he put on a great performance in the regular season finale against St. Louis.  Having a johnny-come-lately like Jackson swoop in and deny Whitehurst a legitimate shot at the starting gig didn’t sit right with most of us.  It’s hard to get off to a worse start with a new fanbase than that.

To his credit, Jackson didn’t start trying to defend himself at every turn or spout angry tirades in anyone’s direction.  In short order, he won the respect of his teammates with his humility and work ethic, and they remained vocal supporters of his even though the offense struggled for the first half of the season.  As the offensive line slowly began to gel and the run game took off, Jackson’s play improved, and he shut up a lot of his detractors when word got out that he’d been playing despite suffering a 50% tear to the pectoral muscle on his throwing side.  He wasn’t the greatest quarterback the team has ever had, but he was solid enough to get the job done most weeks, and his toughness, humble demeanor, and intelligence won over a lot of fans. (Aside from the Giants game, Whitehurst pretty much imploded every time he was given a chance to play, so that worked in Jackson’s favor as well). We weren’t happy to see him arrive, but now we’re sorry to see him go.

2) Is he a starter in the NFL?  Why? I would have to say yes.  Jackson is a decent quarterback, just not an elite one.  He has a strong arm, he’s mobile, he’s tough, and he’s a great leader, but there are some serious flaws in his game.  He struggles at times to read defenses quickly, and when he doesn’t see anyone open he tends to panic and freeze until he gets sacked.  He can throw into tight windows but rarely does so, partly because he’s skittish about taking risks with the ball, and partly because he has trouble anticipating when a receiver is about to break open. His stat breakdowns present some unusual inconsistencies.  Hawk Blogger had a nice, lengthy article on this subject last month (, so I’ll just go over the highlights. 

He’s got one of the best passer ratings in the league in the red zone, but his numbers drop outside of that area.  He’s great on second downs, but struggles on third downs.  He plays well in the fourth quarter and can close the deal when he’s playing with a lead, but he can’t put together a game-winning drive to save his life.  Bottom line, he’s not the best quarterback, but he’s not a one-way ticket to a lost season, either.  You could do much worse than having him under center..

3) Seattle only had 15 TD passes last year, which was 28th in the league. Why was that number so low? For the first half of the season, the offense struggled because the offensive line was a work in progress (three of the five starters were new additions, and two of them were rookies).  After Tom Cable got done working his magic, the numbers on offense improved all around, but injuries to several wide receivers and Marshawn Lynch’s dominating running led to the passing game taking a back seat to Beast Mode. Passing stats

Games 1-8: 164 of 283 (57.95%) for  1,854 yds, 7 TDs (2.47%), 10 Ints (3.53%), 29 sacks
Games 9-16: 135 of 226 (59.73%) for 1,590 yds, 8 TDs (3.53%), 4 Ints (1.77%), 21 sacks

As you can see, the attempts and total yardage took a nosedive as the offense began to rely more on the run, but the percentages for completions, touchdowns per attempt, and interceptions per attempt all improved, as did sacks allowed.  I expect the passing game to be greatly improved this year: the offensive line is solid, the receivers are healthy, and Zach Miller and the other tight ends will be able to release into pass routes instead of having to stay back and help block all the time.

 4) Why didn’t it work out in Seattle for him?

I wouldn’t say that it didn’t work out, it’s just that the two quarterbacks the Seahawks picked up this offseason (Matt Flynn in free agency and Russell Wilson in the draft) outperformed him in training camp.  I’ve heard a lot of people claim that that Pete Carroll only announced that Jackson was in the mix for the starting job this offseason to keep up appearances and avoid alienating his players, but Carroll isn’t one to say that sort of thing lightly.  Had Jackson proven he was a better option than one or both of the new guys, one of them would be headed to another team right now.  


1) What can you tell me about Jackson from his days in Minnesota? Please, be gentle.

He was, without a doubt, the most soul crushing, mind numbing, heart breaking football player at any position I’ve ever had to watch. Except for Troy Williamson. Jackson is terrible though. Just awful. Worse than making out with your sister. He’s inaccurate, fragile, has only ever played under one offensive system, can’t read a defense, can’t throw an out pattern, and hurts his own running backs by banging knees with them. Some may say he never got a fair shot to compete and play in Minnesota because Favre came in during his last two years and stole the show, but that’s bullshit. Favre was brought in because Tarvaris was a god damn nightmare.

 2) What were his strengths and weaknesses?

 Strengths: ….. He can run, sometimes? Like … He’s a scrambling quarterback? Uh … He throws the ball far, occasionally. Sometimes to his own teammates, too! Weaknesses: Everything else. Really. He can’t stay healthy, he doesn’t have a high football IQ, he can’t make all the throws … The one saving grace I’ll give him is that – like cocaine or something – he’s FINE in moderation. If you ever have to rely on him for more than two games though, prepare to drink heavily.

3) Just admit it, he sucked for you guys. Why?

Yes, he did. Without question. It’s hard to pin point exactly WHY it happened, but he’s just not a good NFL player. He was drafted way too high and thrust into the QB position in Minnesota as a rookie. Brad Childress – the coach who picked him and wanted to groom him – was likely hoping to get him time to learn the game on the bench for probably at least two years, but it never worked out. I always felt that this rush job really harmed his pro potential. Beyond that, he just isn’t good. Athletic, talented, experienced (now), but none of it in a good way.

 4) The Bills offense is all about spreading the field and having their WRs run a number of 8-10 yard routes. The system is predicated on the passer being very accurate with his throws and reading defenses quickly. Can Jackson do this?

 Does he only need to go through one read? Then maybe. But he’ll stare his guy down. Jackson also can’t really throw a slant pass in the short route. His best throws were probably 8-12 yard hitches corner routes, or the infamous 2-yard jumping dump off pass to a full back. He’s always good for that at least twice a game, and the jump pass probably 6 times again. Keep an eye out for it. You’ll love it.

5)What were his best and worst games?

His best game that stands out in my mind was against the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. He threw 4 touchdowns in a 35-14 win, but it’s close to impossible for him to repeat. He was 11-17 for 163 yards passing, with two of the touchdowns being a 40 and 60 yard bombs. It was stupid.His worst game was DEFINITELY the one playoff game he started against the Eagles for us, but mostly because of this clip: will always sum up Tarvaris Jackson for me. Good luck, dudes. I feel your pain.



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The Lord of Buffalo Wins