Captain Composure

Posted Sep 8, 2011

Tarvaris Jackson isn't just the team's new starting quarterback, the former Minnesota Viking and six-week Seahawk is the offensive captain heading into Sunday's season opener against the 49ers.

Just call him Captain T-Jack.

At first glance, Tarvaris Jackson being voted the Seahawks’ offensive captain this week prompted a double-take. After all, the quarterback who was signed in free agency didn’t join the team until July 29 and wasn’t able to join practice until Aug. 4.

But when the players voted on Monday, the former Minnesota Viking – and first-few-weeks Seahawk – was the “obvious choice,” as coach Pete Carroll put it, before the team began preparing for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco.

Just don’t call it a surprise selection. Not in front of QB coach Carl Smith, anyway.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” Smith said. “He has been the captain since he got here. So it was just affirmation with their vote.”

A certain amount of captain-esque leadership comes with the position that general manager John Schneider calls “the most important on the team.” But Jackson goes beyond that, and started from the first day he walked into the locker room.

“Some of it is being the quarterback, but the players can tell in a hurry,” Smith said. “With Tarvaris, it was fun to watch. It was like, ‘OK, he had them.’ ”

And his position coach, too. “I told Pete that like Day Two: ‘He’s got them.’ ”

Jackson’s selection – along with cornerback Marcus Trufant (defense) and Michael Robinson and Leon Washington (special teams) – helped validate the confidence Carroll has shown in T-Jack from Day One.

“Sure does. Sure does,” Carroll said when asked if Jackson’s selection says a lot about him. “It’s obvious that’s who they wanted to be their leader.

“Tarvaris is a really good football player, as evidenced by the team. He’s a guy who they’ll look up to.”

Jackson’s reception as the new QB in town has not been as positive outside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center – especially among national pundits, but also on the local level. Jackson was getting pushed around so badly, that wide receiver Mike Williams felt the urge to shove back.

“It’s kind of unbelievable,” said Williams, the team’s leading last season in his first year with the Seahawks. “If it’s overwhelming for a teammate, then it has to be enough for him. I just kind of want to tell everybody, ‘Back the hell up.’ Let him play. Let him have his shot to work and go out there and do his thing.”

But Jackson has not allowed any of that, or the lack of pass protection he was afforded during the preseason games, to alter his approach – or outlook. He never came close to pointing a finger or calling anyone out, as warranted as it would have been. Rather than chastise teammates, he brought up the faults in his own performance.

“It meant a lot for me, being one of the new faces here,” Jackson said of his captain status. “Just in this brief time the guys feel like I’m able to lead, so it was big. I’m going to live up to that and make sure I lead these guys.”

Jackson’s hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil attitude came into play when it was time to vote for the captains.

“He never complained. He never had any excuses,” said running back Justin Forsett, who cast his vote for Jackson. “Regardless of what was happening on or off the field, Tarvaris just went out there and put his hardhat on and worked. Sometimes, that’s the best leadership quality you can have – just showing it by example.”

Then there’s the whole knows-the-offense angle, because Jackson played the past five seasons in Minnesota under new coordinator Darrell Bevell.

“Tarvaris showed some leadership ability, especially with this offense and just being able to talk to everybody and tell them where to go and what to do if we’re lost or anything,” Forsett said. “He’s that type of guy, and we need that kind of encouragement in the huddle.”

Even if it does go against his quieter-by-nature personality. “At first, Tarvaris started off as kind of a quiet guy,” Forsett said. “But he started to show some leadership characteristics. So he was my vote.”

Carroll didn’t get a vote, but he hasn’t been shy about stumping for Jackson whenever asked about his new QB.

“I’m not ever worried about the critics. Ever,” Carroll said. “Tarvaris knows the offense. He’s in great command of it. He’s helping others to make adjustments and fix things. That’s always where the players have a sense for it – when the guy can help them. And he helps them.

“He’s talented. He can move. He’s tough. He’s got a great poise about him. He hung tough through the hard times when we weren’t doing a good job and weren’t protecting him. It never fazed him.”

Enough said? Not exactly. “I think we have a really good football player in Tarvaris and a terrific leader,” Carroll added. “I’m excited that he’s on our team. I’ve been excited. All our coaches have been.” 

The plan to make Jackson the successor to Matt Hasselbeck already was in the works even before Bevell was hired in January. But Bevell’s endorsement – and presence – helped grease Jackson eventually landing in Seattle.

“Tarvaris is playing with more confidence,” Bevell said when asked to compare Jackson the Viking to Jackson the Seahawk. “I think he feels the belief of the people around him – whether it’s the coaching staff, whether it’s the players.”

Look no farther than the fact that the voters have spoken, and T-Jack is their man.

“I kind of have a little bit more information on Tarvaris than most,” Bevell said with a smile. “So I saw what he could be and what he’s capable of doing. So I’m excited for him that he was voted the captain.”