RENTON – After standing around for a week, Tarvaris Jackson hurried to get his pads on and get out to the Seahawks practice field Thursday afternoon.
Uh … not so fast, Tarvaris. We’d heard he was quick and mobile, but all the paperwork wasn’t quite done on the player vote to ratify the labor deal.
So Jackson and the rest of the Seahawks had to cool their heels for almost half an hour until the official go-ahead was given.
“I’m like, ‘Aw, come on,’ ” Jackson said. “… It’s been frustrating (being) on the sidelines watching.”
Jackson and the Seahawks finally got the OK to proceed, but it wasn’t the only false start of this practice, which was as ragged as we might expect given it was the first day that at least a dozen free agents were allowed to putt on gear and compete.
Jackson, the free agent from Minnesota who has been crowned the team’s new starting quarterback, was lukewarm in his assessment of his first day.
“I felt a little rusty,” he said. “I threw an interception … threw it behind the guy and it got tipped in the air.”
Jackson said he also missed Mike Williams a few times, being unfamiliar with his size and catch radius.
“All around, it wasn’t a bad day, but we had a couple miscues on offense with the snap count and (center-quarterback) exchange. We’re going to get that down.”
Some others graded him higher, including new tight end Zach Miller.
“I was really impressed,” said Miller, who was used a number of times in two-tight-end sets with John Carlson. “He has a ton of zip on the ball. He was hitting receivers and the tight end, and I was really impressed with how accurate he was.”
One of the appeals of Jackson as a free agent to replace Matt Hasselbeck was his long association with new Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Jackson said that Bevell has added a few wrinkles to the scheme that he’s still picking up on, but for the most part it was like old times.
“He definitely was really comfortable,” Miller said. “He didn’t have any issues; he was calling the plays like he’s been doing it all his life.”
Jackson had 20 starts in five seasons with the Vikings – once in the past two seasons. He showed promise at times, and his career trajectory and his consistency was no doubt hampered by Brett Favre’s annual retirement/comeback drama.
“I’m wanted here; it’s a different situation than Minnesota,” Jackson said. “But I learned a lot there. I can honestly say that situation made me a better person and a better player. Everything happens for a reason, so those past two years I’m going to learn from.”
In Seattle, Jackson probably faces some natural backlash from fans who still wish Hasselbeck was calling the plays for the Seahawks. He understands that.
“Matt (was) here 10 or 11 years, done some great things here, was great in the community here,” he said. “He played well for this organization, took this organization to a different level, so it’s going to be some hard shoes to fill. I’m just trying to come out here and be the best I can be and help this team get better every day.”
It’s probably unfair to expect too much from this guy until he gets acclimated. On his first day, he mixed some bad with the good. But he really roped a few passes, can throw on the move and looks very mobile.
And there were a few plays that I’d call “indicator plays,” times when you’d go, whoa, that’s the kind of play an NFL starter should make.
On one, the defense came at him with an all-out blitz. He spotted it on the backpedal and quickly unloaded a dart to back Marshawn Lynch, in stride, in a seam.
It takes legitimate arm strength to throw that pass; it takes composure to stay under control with so many guys in your face; and it takes awareness to read the pressure and get it to the right guy.
Importantly, Jackson understands his role in managing the offense, in distributing the burden to the talented backs and receivers.
“It will take a lot of pressure off you,” Jackson said. “You don’t have to come out here and play out of the box. You get the ball to them and watch them make plays.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org