Acquired by Buffalo from Seattle just before the 2012 season, Tarvaris Jackson was more of an insurance policy at the quarterback position than a contender for playing time. Jackson spent the season as the third quarterback on the depth chart, and received few live reps due to the short turnaround between his acquisition and the start of the regular season.
Many expected Jackson to depart for free agency in mid-March, but the Bills brass and new coaching staff saw potential and Jackson saw opportunity.
Earlier this year, head coach Doug Marrone declared an open competition for the starting quarterback job, and Jackson will enter with an edge.
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Jackson has experience in West Coast offenses. In each of his six years in Minnesota and one year as a starter in Seattle, Jackson played in West Coast systems. Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are expected to combine West Coast principles with an up-tempo pace, and Jackson expressed comfort with the strategy.
"[The] first thing I thought about when coach Hackett talked about the up-tempo offense is it's something that we did in Seattle," said Jackson. "[Playing up-tempo] was one of the things we did pretty well, so I'm familiar with it and I'm kind of excited about it."
"This is something I did in Seattle and we were kind of successful with it. We were able to move the ball and put points on the board, and now I get to do it again, hopefully."
2011 was Jackson's best season in his eight-year career. As the full-time starter, Jackson threw for 3,091 yards with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, at a 60.2 percent completion rate.
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Jackson also has a level of familiarity with the team and city that could give him an advantage.
"The good thing [about this opportunity] is I've been here already," said Jackson. "I'm familiar with the whole city; I'm familiar with the players; and now I'm just trying to get familiar with the coaches."
Open competition means challengers, and the Bills could bring in more quarterbacks via free agency or the draft to join Jackson and 24 year-old Aaron Corp. Jackson is not worried though, and is instead focused on his own preparation and development.
"I really wasn't even paying attention," said Jackson of reports on Buffalo's quarterback explorations. "[Right now] it's me just taking care of myself and trying to be the best I can be. I just [need to] worry about myself."
"I'm just trying to get myself better and be the best quarterback I can be for this team."
The similarities between this offseason in Buffalo and the 2012 offseason in Seattle are not lost on Jackson. That offseason Seattle traded for quarterback Matt Flynn, drafted Russell Wilson, and put the starting job up for grabs. Wilson won out, Flynn took the backup role, and Jackson was shipped to Buffalo. The 29 year-old quarterback answered like a veteran when asked if he could see the process repeating itself.
"It's definitely a possibility," said Jackson. "I understand that. This is year eight for me. I learned you can't control that stuff."
"[I need to] just do what I [can] control and that's coming in here, working out every day, and trying to learn the new system."
2013 represents a new year and a clean slate for Jackson, and he hopes to make the most of it. Jackson recalled a conversation with GM Buddy Nix where Nix said, "I bet you're tired of moving."
Jackson's response: "Yes I am."