One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi…
Every quarterback in the NFL has an internal clock that lets them know when they need to get rid of the ball before the pass rush closes in.
For Tarvaris Jackson, playing behind an inexperienced offensive line with five guys playing together for the first time, that internal clock has sped up considerably.
And the results have not been pretty.
Jackson’s performance has been forgettable so far in exhibition play. He’s completed 27 of 48 passes (56.2 percent) for 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Seahawks have given up eight sacks in three games, tied for eighth worst overall.
Jackson’s 62.9 passer rating is worst among starting quarterbacks not named Andy Dalton and Cam Newton (both rookies). His lowly 3.8 yards per pass attempt is the worst among quarterbacks who qualify in that statistic.
The 28-year-old signal caller has taken several big hits because of breakdowns in pass protection, but he has chosen not to use his running ability to get out of trouble. Instead, he has stood tall in the pocket with the hope that one of his big receivers – Mike Williams or Sidney Rice – springs open down field.
“I try not to think about it, really,” Jackson said about the constant pressure in the pocket. “But you’ve got to try and understand what you’re facing. And you want to try and give your guys a chance to shake open. They were getting to the ball kind of fast and pressing (bump-and-run coverage) our guys, so it takes a little longer for those guys to get open.
“You do have to have a clock in your head, I understand that. But I want to give my guys a chance to get open. I don’t want to be premature in leaving the pocket. A lot of people are like, ‘Use your feet. Use your legs.’ But at the same time, I want it to be a part of my game, but I don’t want it to be my whole game.”
Seattle’s offensive scheme hasn’t done Jackson any favors, either.
Coach Pete Carroll’s focus on evaluating young talent on the roster has meant putting rookie guard John Moffitt and tackle James Carpenter out on an island in passing situations to see how they fare.
And as expected, they have struggled under those circumstances.
But Carroll says it’s important that his team find out what Moffitt and Carpenter can handle now before the regular season begins in two weeks.
“Absolutely,” Carroll said. “That’s what we’ve been saying the whole time. Let’s give him (Carpenter) every look at every guy he can see and to try and get him as much exposure as possible. That’s a really fast group. (defensive end Elvis) Dumervil flies, and Von’s (Miller, a linebacker) crazy fast coming off the edge. Those guys, they would give anybody problems.
“So it’s all a learning process and we have a lot of ground to make up quickly and in short order. So we certainly want him to see as much as we can, and that’s why we’ve been throwing him out there and just making him have to do it. We haven’t tried to take care of him, we’ve made him have to block the protections as they’re called for and he’s learning at every turn. It’s not just him; he’s just one of the guys.”
Learning on the run is great, but what happens if your quarterback lands in the hospital because of that process? And what about establishing an offensive rhythm your team can refine for the regular season?
“It’s a tough balance,” Jackson said. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword. You want to see what your guys can do, so you know their strengths and their weaknesses. But at the same time you want to win the game. So you want to do well, so we can get into a rhythm and get our confidence going.”
Ultimately, Jackson said he just has to have faith in the offensive line to get the job done.
“I’ve got trust in the guys up front,” Jackson said. “So regardless of how things are going, I’m going to stay in there and try to give them time to get open.”
TRU TAKES PAY CUT
First reported by ProFootballTalk.com and later confirmed by The News Tribune, Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant has taken a hefty pay cut in his base salary for the season.
According to the report, Trufant’s base salary for this year dropped from $5.9 million to $3 million after recently signing a new contract.
However, according to the report, Trufant can earn that money back by reaching some challenging incentives, which pay up to $2.65 million based on Trufant earning a spot on the Pro Bowl team and other performance incentives.
The other $250,000 can be earned by meeting a specific playing-time threshold.
Trufant, 30, earned his only trip to the Pro Bowl in 2007, a year before signing a six-year, $50.2 million deal.
The rest of Trufant’s contract, which includes a base salary of $7.2 million in 2012 and $8.8 million in 2013, with a $100,000 workout bonus each year, remains unchanged, according to the report.