From Darrell Bevell’s lips, to Tarvaris Jackson’s ears and arm and Sidney Rice’s hands, the Seahawks’ new-look offense isn’t all that different for three former Vikings.
On his very first pass of his very first practice with the Seahawks, Tarvaris Jackson not only looked for Sidney Rice, he threw him the ball.
Not surprising when you consider that the pitch-and-catch tandem were almost a sign-one-get-the-other duo of a deal in free agency. The third point in this former Minnesota Vikings triangle is Darrell Bevell, the new offensive coordinator.
Bevell was hired in January when coach Pete Carroll decided to go “in another direction” with the offense after the Seahawks ranked 28th in the league last season. Bevell was instrumental in getting Jackson to sign during the abbreviated free-agency period in this oddest of offseasons, and Jackson then helped recruit Rice. All three were together in Minnesota – Bevell and Jackson for the past five seasons, with Rice joining them in 2007.
The new-look offense is now largely in their hands – along with the oversized mitts of Tom Cable, who also was hired in January as the assistant head coach/offensive line coach to add some wallop to what was a punchless running game last season.
“It’s really important that we run the football – we’ve been committed to it since we got here,” Carroll said. “We didn’t get it accomplished last year, but hopefully we’re getting closer. With that, the throwing game comes off the running game in our system.
“That’s why Tarvaris is such a big complement – he can move well, he can get out of the pocket. So we love that part of him.”
So much so that Carroll, a coach whose entire program is based on competition, named Jackson the starter to replace departed incumbent Matt Hasselbeck before he ever took a snap in training camp.
It’s all about continuity in this condensed preparation period leading up to tonight’s preseason home opener against – wouldn’t you know it – the Vikings at CenturyLink Field; as well as the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco.
With less time to prepare, from Bevell’s lips, to Jackson’s ears and arm, to Rice’s hands is a shortcut to production – not to mention consistency – that simply made too much sense.
“This entire program has always been about competition. That’s the central theme in this program,” Carroll said. “In this situation, I think to make it the most competitive for our team, Tarvaris needs to be our starter right now.
“Tarvaris brings so much continuity to us; I think it’s the best thing for our club. And I’m excited to tell you that. I think this guy is a heckuva prospect that’s already been embraced by our players and our coaches. What he brings us is something special. He’s a very talented kid.”
All of which brings us back to that first Jackson-to-Rice completion in their first practice with their new team.
“I’m kind of familiar with him,” Jackson said through a smile when asked about that play.
Familiar? “Tarvaris is one on my closest friends ever since I came into the league,” Rice said. “I used to hang out at his place all the time; vice versa he’d come over to my place. I feel comfortable around him.”
Now, these two are hanging out together in the Seahawks’ huddle. And locker room. And offensive meeting room.
“Any time you get guys you’re familiar with and you know their skills and abilities already, that helps you and I think it helps the player as well,” Bevell said. “This is a different time, and we’re all going through it for the first time. So any time you can have guys that are familiar with your system, particularly that quarterback position, it’s huge.”