Focus On: QB Competition

Posted Aug 14, 2014

The competition between incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and newcomer Terrelle Pryor to be the Seahawks’ backup quarterback to Russell Wilson moves to another level – and location – in Friday night’s preseason home opener.

The Seahawks are all about competition. Even at a position where the player will rarely, if ever, play if things go well.

This summer, that would be the backup quarterback spot behind starter Russell Wilson. Tarvaris Jackson is the incumbent and was re-signed this offseason. But when the Oakland Raiders made Terrelle JPryor available in April, the Seahawks couldn’t resist trading for a player with unique qualities that are coveted by coach Pete Carroll.

Jackson, the starter in 2011 before Wilson was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, has done nothing to indicate he shouldn’t continue to hold the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. But that has not stopped the coaches from rotating the backup snaps in practice between Jackson and Pryor.

“We are letting them compete,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Wednesday after the final practice in the Seahawks’ Training Camp presented by Bing. “Each and every day we evaluate it, so there’s definitely competition going on and we will kind of just let it go for the next three weeks and see what happens.”

Jackson was No. 2 in last Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Broncos in Denver, completing 5 of 7 passes for 47 yards and an 89.6 passer rating. Pryor took over on the Seahawks’ second possession in the third quarter and was 9 of 16 for 137 yards, but also threw a potentially game-winning pass that instead was intercepted in the end zone.

If the rotation in practice this week is any indication, Pryor could be No. 2 in Friday night’s preseason home opener against the San Diego Chargers at CenturyLink Field.

And Bevell has a checklist of what he needs to see from Pryor in his second preseason stint.

“I think being able to see the field a little bit better, making some of the decisions a little bit quicker,” Bevell said. “But he’s doing a great job out here. … He’s come along really well. He’s learned really fast. I’ve been impressed with that and how he’s been able to pick it up. And we will just continue to let him play and see how far he can come.”

Jackson never went through those growing pains of learning a new system when he signed with the Seahawks as a free agent at the conclusion of the 136-day lockout in 2011. He had played, and started, in Bevell’s system when both were with the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, that was one of the things that made Jackson a QB the Seahawks targeted, because his knowledge of the offense would help in a season where there was no offseason because of the lockout.

Jackson then won the respect of his new teammates by continuing to play despite damaging his right pectoral during a Week 5 upset of the New York Giants. The right-handed Jackson passed for 3,091 yards and 14 TDs as the Seahawks went 7-9.

Wilson’s arrival and rapid ascension to becoming the starter, along with the addition of Matt Flynn in free agency, prompted the trade of Jackson to the Buffalo Bills in August. But he returned last June, and Flynn was traded to the Raiders.

So the competition has changed, but Jackson has been here before.

“I thought Tarvaris did an excellent job in there,” was Carroll’s post-video review assessment of Jackson’s performance in the opener. “He was very comfortable in the pocket, read really well, handled everything.”

Jackson also had better protection than Pryor from lines that were shuffled because Pro Bowl center Max Unger, Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle Russell Okung and left guard James Carpenter did not play – which elevated lineman from the second unit to the starting line for Wilson, and caused protection problems for Jackson and Pryor.

“Tarvaris had a little more time to throw the football, took advantage of it and did well,” Carroll said. “Terrelle, I thought, did a really good job under the circumstances. He showed us a lot of stuff. He made some terrific throws from the pocket. He did a nice job getting out.

“He wasn’t as effective on the move as we hoped he would be with throwing the ball and getting the ball out. But he did a very good job his first time out. Gave us a chance to win a game and, unfortunately, we didn’t get it done.”

The next chance for Pryor comes Friday night, when he’ll have to be even better. But then that goes without saying, because the on-going competition with Jackson dictates it.