The Seattle Seahawks are not going to make the playoffs.
That statement hardly comes as a shock to Seahawks fans. There was a possibility, though remote, that the Seahawks could have made a playoff run. They had a favorable schedule against opponents that have a lot of issues. It was improbable, but still possible. Even though they aren’t officially eliminated from playoff contention, last Sunday’s loss to the Washington Redskins ended Seattle’s playoff aspirations for all intents and purposes.
Now Pete Carroll can make the decision he should have made a couple of weeks ago, a decision that he doesn’t want to make, but needs to. He needs to sit Tarvaris Jackson for the rest of the season.
Jackson has gamely played the last five weeks with a partially torn pectoral muscle. However, his game is clearly deteriorating. Jackson is an average quarterback at best when healthy. This injury is limiting his capabilities more each week. The coaches have done a good job of working around Jackson’s limitations, but that can only work for so long. Jackson was exposed during the Washington game, and the situation is only going to get worse.
Carroll and General Manager John Schneider must accept blame for not having an adequate backup in place. Even though the team paid a huge price for him and to him, Carroll has no confidence whatsoever in Charlie Whitehurst. This is not a new development; Carroll felt the same way last season. Matt Hasselbeck had injuries, but nothing nearly as severe as what has befallen Jackson. If a coach is not willing to play someone unless under the most dire of circumstances, then that player shouldn’t be on the team.
The Seahawks should use the remainder of the season to see what rookie QB Josh Portis can do. Whitehurst’s contract ends after this season, and he is not a part of the team’s future plans. He’s not even a part of the team’s current plans. Playing Whitehurst serves no purpose whatsoever.
Playing Jackson serves no purpose, either. He can no longer throw the ball deep down the field, and he cannot avoid even the slightest pressure in the pocket. If Jackson were to continue to start, the Seahawks would be facing eight man fronts on every play and all-out blitzes in passing situations. Further injury for Jackson would be virtually guaranteed.
That the Seahawks defeated the Baltimore Ravens and the St. Louis Rams and probably should have beaten Washington with Jackson impaired to such a degree is amazing. However, the loss to the Redskins means the remaining games don’t have any meaning as far as the postseason is concerned.
Jackson is going to start on Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles, and I’m not optimistic on what the outcome will be. Then the team will have as long a break between games as is possible without a bye. The extra time should be used to prepare Portis for the last four games of the season. I would go so far as to make Jackson inactive for those games, which means he would only play again if Portis AND Whitehurst were unable to play.
I respect that Carroll believes that the team’s best chance to win is with Jackson at quarterback. If the team were still in playoff contention, I’d agree with continuing to start Jackson. That is no longer the case. Not playing the rest of the season is the best thing for Jackson, who can avoid further injury and have surgery to repair the torn pectoral as soon as the season ends. It’s also the best thing for the team to have a quarterback who can avoid pressure and provide at least the threat of a vertical passing game.
The negatives to keeping Jackson as the starting QB far outweigh the positives. Carroll needs to do what is best for the team both now and in the long run. I appreciate the toughness that Tarvaris Jackson has shown, but his injury is getting worse and it’s affecting his play. It’s time to find out whether Josh Portis has a future as a Seattle Seahawk. Coach Carroll, make the right call.