Five Things Sage Rosenfels Must Do to Win the Vikings QB Job
This is a multiple part series in which I will be breaking down Vikings position battles and highlighting what players need to do to win their respective starting position.
Along the way, from Washington to Miami, then to Houston from 2006-2008, Rosenfels has had to work his butt off just to be in the conversation. He has received his opportunities to start football games at quarterback, but that has usually come at the expense of an injury (like last year's game at the Metrodome when starter Matt Schaub went down).
After the 2008 season, Rosenfels went to the Vikings via trade for a fourth-round selection in the 2009 draft. Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Speilman had tried to make a play for Rosenfels before the 2008 season, but the Texans wanted more than Speilman was willing to give up.
Now that he's a Minnesota Viking, Rosenfels will get his shot this training camp in Mankato, Minn. to win the starting job when he competes with fourth-year man Tarvaris Jackson.
In order to win this job, Rosenfels will have to pick up a lot mentally before the last week of July when practices start. Here is my list of what he needs to show head coach Brad Childress and the assistants in training camp if he wants to lead this team in September.
1. Eliminate the Turnovers
Ask any NFL fan what first comes to mind when they think about Sage Rosenfels and they will tell you it was the helicopter dive against Indianapolis in week four of the 2008 season in which he lost the ball and Colts linebacker Gary Brackett picked it up and returned it 68 yards for the touchdown. Rosenfels later threw the game-ending interception in a 31-27 loss in a game that the Texans had led by 17 with under five minutes left in the game.
And that's exactly how you pour opportunities down the drain in the NFL. Rosenfels was the backup the following week at home against the Miami Dolphins.
In 2008, he threw 10 interceptions to only six touchdowns. In training camp, Rosenfels' duty will be to show the coaching staff that he can take care of the ball and not make the foolish pass when it doesn't need to be thrown.
Many fans will tell you that the Vikings need a playmaker running the offense, and that is not true. They need a quarterback that can step in and effectively manage the offense and take care of the football so that they can win the time of possesion battle and give a guy named Adrian Peterson enough shots at breaking a bigoff a big run.
2. Don't Do Too Much
With the Texans up on the Colts 27-17 in the game I mentioned above where Rosenfels fumbled the ball, he was scrambling to the left to try and pick up a first down.
Well, instead of sliding and holding on to the ball to chew up more time, Rosenfels decided he would try to be a hero and virtually ended up costing Houston an important game against an AFC South rival.
In practice, he must learn how to hold on to the ball before diving for a first down or forcing a pass into a tight spot when it's just not worth it.
That would be a big step in proving to the coaching staff that he is the man for the job, especially since Jackson has also been known to take some chances in close games that just aren't worth it.
3. Show His Quick Release
When watching film on Rosenfels, the attribute he possesses that impresses me the most is his ability to get rid of the football quick and on time to receivers.
This is one quality Jackson has struggled with when I watch him drop back to pass. He seems to take his time when setting up in the pocket and doesn't get rid of the ball with a quick motion, letting defenders read him a little more accurately.
In training camp this summer, Rosenfels will need to continue to show his quick release in passing drills and in scrimmage. This will help the offense click, eliminating sacks to put them in long yardage situations.
4. Show That He Can Pick Up the New Offensive Terminology and Playbook
Although Houston's offense is similar in some ways to what offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Childress want, it will be a huge change for Rosenfels from a mental standpoint.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak ran more of a zone blocking scheme in the run game while letting the quarterback make plays down the field on bootlegs.
This season, Rosenfels will throw more timing and shorter routes while staying in the pocket most of the time.
Right now, he is doing his best and studying the playbook and building chemistry with his receivers during mini-camp sessions while also studying film on what the Vikings want from their quarterback in the west coast system.
This summer at camp, Rosenfels will need to prove that he has a grasp on Childress' scheme and that he is the piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly within the offensive picture.
5. Don't Force Passes in the Red Zone
In week nine against the Vikings at the Metrodome, the Texans were driving into the red zone at the end of the third quarter in a close game. Rosenfels, stepping back in the pocket and not finding a receiver available, floated a pass into the end zone that Vikings safety Madieu Williams intercepted to give the ball back to Adrian Peterson and company.
This should be another area of concern if Childress sees Rosenfels as the future starter at QB for this offense.
Vikings fans saw Tarvaris Jackson throw a costly interception to Giants safety James Butler in the end zone last season in week 17, and don't want to see more of the same in big games.
If Rosenfels wants to earn starting quarterback points this summer, he will need to show that he is willing to throw the ball away in the red zone if nothing is available. Although field goals can come back to haunt a team, no points can kill a team.
Next Article: Five Things Charles Gordon Must Do to Win the Nickel Job.
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