The Tantalizing and Frustrating Talent of Tarvaris Jackson

Greg McKnightCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2009

Sometimes, don't you just wish he would go ahead and completely stink?

That would put us out of our misery, wouldn't it?  To just be able to move on, draft some first round phenom, pick up a wily veteran, and try again?

But moving on from Tarvaris Jackson isn't as easy as some of us would like it to be.  He's that kind of player who is so talented yet so erratic that he just makes a die-hard fan lose his or her mind.

Not good enough to trust, yet not bad enough to cut.  Capable of the game in which he completes 60 percent of his passes and has two or three touchdowns, or the game in which he completes 40 percent of his passes and has two or three bouncers to his intended target.

It's hard to say really whether he will ever be more consistent than he is now. Nobody disputes the fact that Jackson has all the talent in the world and is theoretically capable of winning.

It's just that he has a game or three each season that can lull you into thinking he's the one, and the other games make you wonder how he isn't the third quarterback. If you can't trust your QB—and it's mostly obvious now that even his biggest supporter (Childress)—doesn't trust him, then you've lost before you even hit the field.

The offense the Vikings currently employ is not a particularly difficult one to master, yet Jackson seems lost a great deal of the time. He often panics in the pocket if his first read is covered and throws the ball away, over the receiver's head, at the receiver's feet, or up for grabs.

His first read is usually his only read, and more often than is acceptable, he telegraphs his passes (Asante Samuel playoff TD). 

But like his first two seasons in Minnesota, he had a few good games in 2008 to make you wonder. 

Those good games are:

Lions: More like a great couple of series since he came in for Frerotte in the second half. He was eight of 10 for 105 yds and a TD. Not bad but this was spot duty against the worst defense in the league and the worst team in NFL history.

Cardinals: His best game as a pro probably. Once again though, the Cardinals had no real defense to speak of, especially during their late season slide. Every aspect of our game was good in this game, and every aspect of the Cardinals' was bad (11 of 17, 163 4TDs for Jackson).

Falcons: Another pretty good game since he only had one of the team's seven(!) fumbles. Nice numbers (22 of 36, 233 TD 0int) still couldn't overcome our sloppy ball-dropping performance.  Certainly can't blame him for the loss.

Giants: 16 of 26 for 239, 1TD 1 int. Good performance against several backups for the Giants.  Take your good games when you can get them though.

That stretch of games is nice for sure.  His stats in the final four regular season games are an impressive 57 of 89 (64%) for 740 yards, 7TDs and 1 int. Those stats, projected to a 16 game season would give him almost 3,000 yards, 28 TDs and two interceptions. 

We would obviously all be wearing No. 7 jerseys if that happened.

But that's four games out of 16. In the playoff game against the Eagles (a team with a defense) he was a pedestrian 15 of 35 for 164 and the int for a TD.  And in his first two games of 2008 he was 30 of 59 (51 percent) for 308 yards, 1TD and 1 int. 

So project those numbers out to an entire season of starts and you get 48 percent completions for 2500 yards, 5TDs and 11 interceptions.  Not good.

But Jackson has yet to start an entire season for one reason or another, and this is the dichotomy we're left with.  The truth so far has been somewhere in the middle of those two projections. 

In his three year career, Jackson averages 150 yards passing per game, completes 58 percent of his passes, and has thrown 20 TDs to 18 interceptions.  Not great, not terrible.  Stats just like the man himself.

So which Jackson will we get, and when?