Dear Tarvaris Jackson: Time to Prove Us Wrong

M. EccherCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - DECEMBER 21:  Tarvaris Jackson #7  of the Minnesota Vikings scrambles to get free from Coy Wire #52 of the Atlanta Falcons during an NFL game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, on December 21, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

Dear Tarvaris Jackson:

It's been a rough year for you, big guy.

In January, you went 15-for-35 for 164 yards and a pick in a playoff loss at home.

In February, the Vikings imported a 31-year-old career backup to compete with you.

And from early May through yesterday afternoon, the team did its best to acquire a 39-year-old passer with a bum throwing arm to replace you outright.

Brad Childress said missing out on Brett Favre "doesn’t change anything about how I feel about our football team." Given that his recent pursuits don't suggest he feels all that hot about his chances with you under center, I'm not sure that's a good thing for you.

Local sports radio producer Darren "Doogie" Wolfson ranked yesterday's news as the third-biggest letdown in Minnesota sports history.

In other words, heading into this season with either you or Sage Rosenfels under center is third-worst thing ever to befall Twin Cities sports fans, right behind the '98 NFC Title Game and "41-doughnut."

Stop me any time here.

So your coach isn't crazy about you. Your fans aren't crazy about you. And if you put stock in reports that Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, and Steve Hutchinson all lobbied Favre to join up even after he told the team he wasn't coming back, your teammates aren't all that crazy about you, either.

What are you going to do about it?

The way I see it, you've got two choices: Sulk and shrink from the occasion, or whip yourself into shape as the quarterback nobody seems to think you can be.

It sounds like a no-brainer. Nobody wants to throw in the towel. Nobody wants to show the doubters they were right.

But if option No. 2 were easy, we wouldn't have a list of quarterback washouts waiting on the tips of our tongues. Tim Couch, Joey Harrington, Cade McNown, Quincy Carter: It's not hard to find guys who started early, bounced in an out of the lineup, and never found their footing again.

For a man on the brink of joining the ranks of those who couldn't cut the mustard—and make no mistake, you're on the brink—there are a few obstacles to overcome that must be nothing short of maddening.

By all accounts, you're already working plenty hard. Some of your teammates even said you were having such a good offseason that all the Favre talk was nonsense. Now, you have to figure out how to work harder.

We have to imagine you already wanted the starting job. Now, you have to figure out how to want it more than the other guy.

Think Alice in Wonderland here: You're already going full speed to hang on to what you've got; if you want to get better, you need to go twice as fast.

Then there's the matter of repairing whatever damage your confidence has sustained. It's hard enough to believe in yourself after winning, losing, and regaining the No. 1 role in each of the last two seasons—now, you have to lead an offense in which a handful of the key cogs tried to lure someone else under center.

It's safe to say that none of those cautionary tales mentioned above intended to be busts. At one point or another, all of them undoubtedly tried to turn things around.

None of them did. That's another hurdle: The knowledge that some people work their butts off and fail anyway.

Starting to see where these situations take a turn for the worse? Feel like sulking yet?

The good news is that if you're still game for the self-improvement route, you've got a whole stack of motivational kindling piled high and ready to burn.

Every time the Favre debacle creeps into your mind, do an extra set in the weight room. Every time some idiot columnist picks Rosenfels to edge you out, put in an extra hour in the film room.

Memorize the playbook until you forget it. Focus on five or six throws and repeat them until your brain stops interfering with your arm. Print out a list of things that went wrong this offseason, tape it to the treadmill, and see if you get an extra mile or two out of it. Make the team drag you off the practice field kicking and screaming.

We're skeptics, not haters. We don't want you to fail. We just want somebody to lead this team to the promised land.

So far, all we've seen is a pet project that never quite panned out.

Prove us wrong.

Follow Vikings posts and updates on Twitter: MarinoEccher.


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