It is clear that after three years in the league, Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is still battling to win fan confidence. And, now that the team has brought in Sage Rosenfels to compete for the job, Jackson will also have to convince his coach, again.
Granted, there have been times that Jackson appeared a bit out of his league. He was drafted in the second round out of Alabama State in the 2006. In a draft that included the likes of Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler, the Vikings thought highly of him. So much that they traded up to get him with the 64th pick of the second round.
After being named the team's starter, there were times when his decision-making was flat out terrible. Then there were moments when every screaming fan knew he should have taken off with the ball or thrown it to an open receiver and he did not. And there was the big interception in the playoff game against the Eagles—all bad by anyone's count. However, I counter that Jackson has grown up on the job and still has the inside track to lead Vikings.
For more than two years, media prosecutors have made their arguments against Jackson. The defense will now take the floor.
First, we argue that the young Mr. Jackson have been the victim of poor play-calling in Minnesota. For example, when you have Adrian Peterson on the field facing 3rd down and 1 yard to go, and your coach calls a pass play, that's not Jackson's fault.
Jackson is one of the more physically-gifted quarterbacks in the league. His arm strength is top five caliber. His mobility may be tops of all active quarterbacks (with the exception of suspended player Michael Vick).
In several of the big games lost by the Vikings last season, turnovers by other key players and special teams hurt more than the play of Jackson. Heck, against Atlanta and Matt Ryan, Jackson easily out-played him. Ryan was 13-24, 134 passing yards and 1 touchdown, while Jackson was 22-36, 233 yds and 2 tds. The Falcons won the game 24-17 because the Vikings lost four of seven fumbles—clearly not Jackson's fault. Against the Colts and Payton Manning, the Vikings lead 15-7 going into the fourth quarter and the vaunted Vikings defense gave up 11 points to lose 18-15; again, not his fault. And let's not forget his performance against Super Bowl runner-up Arizona in which the Vikings won 35-14. In that game, Jackson completed 64% of his passes (11-17, 163 yds, 4 TDs and no interceptions).
In closing, I am convinced that Brad Childress understands what a talent Jackson is, and probably agrees that his young QB has unfairly shouldered most of the blame for his team's loses.
Sure, Childress brought in Rosenfels. However, I don't think it's a fair fight. Jackson was Childress' choice from the day he was drafted. His arm is much bigger than Rosenfels and his mobility will garner key first downs, something Rosenfels will not give the team. And lastly, Jackson is a Childress system quarterback. Childress may not be among the league's top play callers, but I believe he is a player's coach. He is ready to put his career on the talents of young Tarvaris Jackson, his Donovan McNabb prototype.