Between Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson as Vikings QB, There's No Middle Ground

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Between Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson as Vikings QB, There's No Middle Ground
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies. Minnesota Vikings' decision-makers must like it, too.

Especially the part where the Scarecrow has difficulty making up his mind which route he and Dorothy should take to the Emerald City.

The Vikings are similarly torn over which path they should take to the Super Bowl.

Minnesota finally acquired quarterback Sage Rosenfels in the offseason after an earlier attempt failed. A career backup, Rosenfels, 31, went 2-3 in five starts for  Houston last season. He threw for 1,431 yards with six touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a 66.7 completion percentage.

The Vikings' acquisition apparently signaled their intent to follow a course similar to that which the Baltimore Ravens took when they won Super Bowl XXXV.

The Ravens, blessed with a smashmouth defense and an equally stout running game, obtained Trent Dilfer as a caretaker quarterback to make prudent decisions on critical downs and nothing else.

Yet Coach Brad Childress is a rabid supporter of Tarvaris Jackson, who has shown glimpses of brilliance when he's been able to avoid the frequent meltdowns that have cost the Vikings dearly.

When the Vikings drafted Jackson in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, they were impressed with his raw talent, his speed, and his arm strength. They entertained visions that he would one day be able to spearhead a high-octane offense that would allow the Vikings' defense some breathing room on the sidelines.

The competition for the job likely won't be resolved until August or September.

What's wrong with declaring either Rosenfels or Jackson as the starting quarterback now?

The resolution to the question carries huge implications for the upcoming draft.

If the Vikings are looking to concentrate on shoring up their defense and running game, they should be looking to draft a defensive lineman, a linebacker, or an offensive lineman with their first pick in the draft

If the Vikings are looking to rev up their offense, the accent on the 2009 draft needs to be in selecting a playmaker or two who can break the back of the enemy defense.

More importantly, the Vikings organization's unwillingness to make a decision on a starting quarterback in an era when quarterbacks are perceived as the face of a franchise signals a growing identity crisis.

The Vikings have the talent to be a winner and perhaps make a run deep into the playoffs. But without an identity, they'll never be able to find the Yellow Brick Road, much less the Emerald City.

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