Manning Pursuit

by journojames on March 8, 2012

Here’s a column I wrote today for the blog Seattle Sports Central. The original can be found here.


Photo courtesy of Ian Ransley Design + Illustration

A somber press conference in Indianapolis yesterday displayed macho men, who are rarely accused of being sensitive, getting emotional, full of sorrow and tears. But in about a dozen other NFL cities across the country, including Seattle, that same event stirred a great deal of giddy excitement.

Peyton Manning’s official release from the Colts offered quarterback-challenged teams around the league sudden hope for the near future. A lot of tortured fans who have suffered with their team’s woeful quarterback play went to sleep last night with blissful thoughts of game-winning drives and fantasy playoff scenarios, led by a four-time league MVP, dancing in their heads.

Sorry to wake you, Seahawks fans, but those wishful thoughts will probably remain as ethereal pipedreams. According to NFL pundits, Manning will most likely bypass the gray overcast skies and chilly temperatures of the Emerald City and choose to play in a warmer destination closer to his home in Florida. Seattle, it seems, is just too cool and too far away. Many sports media outlets have mentioned Miami and Arizona as the most probable landing spots.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times yesterday reported that the Seahawks organization, despite these rumors, prepared to aggressively pursue No. 18.

This is welcome news.

If true, it shows that this Seahawks regime is willing to chase the league’s top free agents. More importantly, it reveals that General Manager John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll recognize that 28-year-old Tavaris Jackson, who put together an uninspiring 2011 season with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, is not the right answer at quarterback for Seattle. The first step in any problem is to honestly acknowledge it. It’s now clear that the Seahawks aren’t delusional about Jackson’s potential future as a sky-high franchise quarterback in the Jet City. They seem so sure of it that they’re now willing to go after an older veteran with major injury issues, who may or may not be able to play up to his Pro Bowl caliber.

Jackson has had only one season in Seattle to show what he can do. This is a small, perhaps insufficient, sample size to truly judge whether he can still develop into a quality quarterback. On the other hand, he’s now a 6-year veteran of the league. During that time he’s compiled an average quarterback rating of 77.7. Last season, he actually rated higher with a very pedestrian 79.2 playing for the Seahawks. What you saw is what you’ll get.

If Jackson isn’t the quarterback to lead this team to post-season celebrations in the streets, and it’s unlikely that Manning will be habitually shouting out his audible calls in CenturyLink Field, then the question for the Seahawks brass remains: what are its quarterback plans C and D?

This will be answered in the coming months with the upcoming free agency period and the draft in April. For now, yesterday’s announcement by the Seahawks will have to be enough as a sign that the team’s management understands its personnel. This is good news for Seahawks fans. It’s another step in the right direction. It’s hope.

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