It’s really easy to look at the stats and simply dismiss Tarvaris Jackson as a Never Was. It’s even easier just to close your eyes and remember what he’s looked like as a player. I’m a Seattle fan, I live in the area, but I still feel like I’ve seen more than my fair share of Minnesota Vikings games over the last four years simply because they’re on TV so much. I’ve SEEN what Tarvaris Jackson is capable of. He’s pretty much the opposite of a West Coast Offense quarterback being shoe-horned into a system he’ll never succeed in. Darrell Bevell is essentially the 2 year old who’s trying to hammer the square block through the round hole.
But, let’s forget WHY he failed as a quarterback. That can be debated until the cows are blue in the face; I’m only interested in the fact that he did, indeed, fail as a quarterback. Let’s make no mistake, when you’re benched for Gus Frerotte, then again for Brett Favre (I mean, seriously, your team went all the way out of their way TWICE to woo this guy into playing for them because they knew you didn’t have what it took to lead them to the Super Bowl), THEN you’re not even tendered a contract to even give them a draft pick in return for your leaving because your team is too afraid you’ll take the deal … I’m sorry, but you’re a failure.
Everyone talks about the pressure he had to face in Minnesota. First of all, don’t buy that. There’s pressure to win everywhere you go in the NFL; I don’t think degrees of pressure really make a whole lotta sense when you’re dealing with professional football. It’s difficult, it’s a huge adjustment from college, let’s just get past the pressure issue. Nevertheless, that’s the excuse given. Minnesota was a team on the rise, they put it on a young quarterback’s shoulders, and he ultimately couldn’t get it done.
First of all, I don’t know an athlete alive who wouldn’t relish that pressure. Who wouldn’t demand to have everything on his shoulders. That’s how much of a competitor you are when you reach the pro ranks; you want all the glory, you want to beat everyone else’s brains in.
Secondly, if we’re going to say there are varying degrees of pressure depending on your team’s situation, I don’t understand how there was more pressure on Minnesota at the time. If anything, I’d say the pressure was LESS.
Think about it, what’s the ideal scenario for a young/rookie quarterback? To be drafted into a veteran or on-the-rise type of team. Look at guys like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers … sure, they’re all quality quarterbacks who’ve proven they have what it takes to be elite players in this league, but they also were all drafted onto good NFL teams with a lot of veteran leadership to help take the pressure off.
Minnesota was no different in 2006. Sure, they might have been bad that year, but they were on the come! They had an elite running back, they had a top-notch defense that kept giving you the ball back, keeping games close. And STILL Tarvaris Jackson failed.
If he had come in and been drafted by a terrible team like the Lions or Texans, you could poo-poo this argument and say, “Look, the guy was drafted by a terrible team and he kept getting killed game after game because there was no talent around him.” But Minnesota HAD talent! Jackson only had to start 2 games as a rookie, at the end of the season; where’s the pressure? It wasn’t until he was a second-year pro where he was given the keys. Better quarterbacks (like those aforementioned elite guys listed above) didn’t even get THAT; they had to start right away, and for the most part they did pretty well for themselves.
See, it’s not about WHY he failed. It’s just that he failed. He failed when he had a great team around him. So, how am I SUPPOSED to take it when the Seahawks pick him up? If he was terrible then, please, tell me, how’s he going to turn it around when the Seahawks are significantly worse than the Vikings in recent years?
And, if we’re getting back to the issue of pressure, how’s this for pressure: going into a city where the majority of the fan base doesn’t even want to give you a chance, where every misstep is going to be amplified by a skeptical home crowd, and where your teammates have been talking all summer in the media and on Twitter about how much they respect and want Matt Hasselbeck to return. I’d say that’s a lot of pressure for a guy to take when he’s about as low as he could possibly be in his career and trying to turn it all around with this new opportunity.
Seattle suffers a lot of losing teams, but we don’t stand for garbage players. Even a guy like Matt Hasselbeck had a helluva time getting the fans on his side when he first got here, what with the constant chants for Trent Dilfer after every interception. Sounds to me like a lot to handle for a guy who’s already crumbled under pressure before.