In search of offensive balance

Posted Oct 31, 2011

After emerging from a week of uncertainty with Tarvaris Jackson, coach Pete Carroll is counting on his starting quarterback to do just that in the Seahawks’ game against the Cowboys on Sunday.

After last week’s will-he-be-able-to-play situation and Sunday’s should-he-play-and-when scenario, Pete Carroll is going into this week with a more definite plan for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson as the Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s road game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“Definitely in my mind, he’s starting. Unless he can’t,” the Seahawks coach said Monday during his weekly day-after news conference.

“So it’s a different way of looking at it this week than last week.”

That’s because last week at this time, Jackson still had too much soreness because of the strained pectoral he got in the pre-bye week game against the New York Giants. Jackson didn’t play in the post-bye week loss to the Browns in Cleveland and then was limited in practice last week.

It was that situation that prompted Carroll to start backup Charlie Whitehurst in Sunday’s 34-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field.

“It’s an injury that’s a big concern,” Carroll said of the shoulder on Jackson’s throwing arm. “He was not able to take the snaps during the week to the same extent that Charlie was.”

Jackson got his most extensive snaps in practice on Friday since suffering the injury, but it wasn’t until Carroll and the other offensive coaches saw how Jackson responded to that activity on Saturday that they thought he had a chance to at least be active against the Bengals.

“We had to wait and see, and he felt pretty darn good,” Carroll said.

Sunday, Jackson threw in the warm-ups that proceed even the pregame session, and then asked if he could pass on the normal pregame throwing.

“He wanted to wait there,” Carroll said. “That’s how tenuous this is.”

That’s why Carroll was trying to get through the Bengals game without going to Jackson. He figured with one more game off, Jackson definitely would be ready to start against the Cowboys.

But with Whitehurst and the offensive struggling, Carroll went to Jackson in the second quarter and he responded with a season-high 323-yard performance by completing 21 of 40 passes. Eight receivers caught passes, and Sidney Rice (seven for 102) and Ben Obomanu (four for 107) surpassed 100 yards.

Carroll said Jackson’s snaps will continue to be monitored this week.

“We’re going to kind of gauge it as he takes it,” Carroll said. “It will be a day-to-day deal. But we expect him to be much better and be able to practice and do things just based on the performance on Sunday.”

While the passing game was more productive under Jackson in terms of yards, points remained elusive for the Seahawks offense. After the offense put up 28 points in the Week 4 loss to the Atlanta Falcons and 27 in the win over the Giants, it scored three in the loss to the Browns and nine of the Seahawks’ 12 points against the Bengals came in the second half.

What continued to be missing even with Jackson back in the lineup was the running game. The Seahawks gained 61 rushing yards against the Bengals and averaged 3.1 yards per carry.

“We’re going back to work this week with the real intent that we’ve got to balance out what going on on offense,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to mix the way we like to mix. So we’re going to focus real hard on getting that done and see if we can generate the kind of balance that gives you a chance to have a real good attack.

“Right now, we’re all leaning on the throwing game. We threw a lot of yards at (the Bengals), but it wasn’t in the manner that we want to.”

But at least Carroll has a better handle this week on who will be doing the throwing against the Cowboys.