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Quarterback controversy already brewing for Seahawks

Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson sets to pass in the first half of last Saturday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. Some wonder whether he's the best choice for starting QB.
John Froschauer
AP Photo
Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson sets to pass in the first half of last Saturday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. Some wonder whether he's the best choice for starting QB.

"When you have two quarterbacks, you have none."

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel quoted that old sports adage a few weeks ago, when the Seahawks decided to pass on veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in favor of two relatively inexperienced QBs.

After two preseason games, some experts and fans are questioning whether the Seahawks made the right choice in deciding who would be their new starter.

Jackson, offensive line falter

There's a growing controversy over the Hawks' choice to start newly-acquired quarterback Tavaris Jackson – a backup from Minnesota – over last year's No. 2 man Charlie Whitehurst. It's been Whitehurst who's outplayed Jackson in the first two preseason games.

Jackson has yet to lead the team to a score – even a field goal – in the first two halves he's played. Meanwhile, Whitehurst has done well, albeit against reserve players. Art says it may be unfair, but Jackson is now seen as a potential liability.

"And suddenly everybody is embracing Whitehurst because he's had a great couple of halves. It's just, I think, sound and fury signifying nothing but that's what happens when you shorten the season because of the lockout."

It's not all Jackson's fault. Art says the offensive line that's supposed to protect him hasn't done a good job of it. The line contains two rookies and two other players with relatively light NFL experience.

"They're all relatively new to the NFL and new to each other and that leaves whoever is back there very vulnerable."

Hasselbeck likely not much better

Jackson took some big hits in last Saturday's 20-7 loss to the Vikings, but he was also quick enough to scramble out of some tight spots. Art says that would NOT have been the case had the Seahawks resigned veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for the season (he instead signed a three-year deal with the Tennessee Titans).

"If that had been Matt Hasselbeck back there, I'm afraid Matt would be hospitalized by now. Because not only is he a veteran of 12 years in the NFL and all the injuries that come with it, he would be 35 years old and just not able to get away as Jackson has been able to get away. That's the main virtue is that he can run away from trouble. And that's really not exactly the hallmark you want for your offensive leader."

Season of survival

Art says the Hawks are just trying to "get by" this season and buy themselves some time to find a true leader. The ultimate goal is to land a veteran quarterback or qualify for a star collegiate quarterback in next year's draft.

Jackson and Whitehurst are placeholders this season – according to Art. The real victory will be to keep both quarterbacks from getting injured behind a weak offensive line.

Read more of what Art has to say on this issue at Sportspress Northwest.

In a weekly Q&A, Seattle sports expert and longtime columnist Art Thiel gives his take on the latest regional and national sports news. “Sports with ArtThiel is published here and airs on KPLU 88.5 every Friday during Morning Edition and on Weekend Saturday Edition.

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.