Preseason games do not matter. Well, at least not to starters who aren't trying to make the team. So, aside from the backups and those hanging on dearly to at least land a practice squad position, preseason games do not matter.
Unless, of course, that preseason game is the Second Annual Unretirement Party of a certain grandfather quarterback. Between the pregame and sideline Brett Favre interviews (as well as the constant camera shots of Favre's ankle...yep, he has two of them), this week's preseason presentation of Sunday Night Football would've been better titled Sunday Night Favre.
If you happened to watch beyond the glitz and glamor of the ol' gunslinger's single completed pass, you may have noticed something more. Something offering up hope to a desperate franchise on the cusp of success with an agonizing fear of what the future holds when "retiring" finally means what it once meant. That something was the maturation of Tarvaris Jackson.
Jackson, entering his fifth year as a quarterback for the Vikings, made seven completions on eleven attempts with a lackluster 43 yards in passing and 18 yards on two carries in the team's 15-10 loss to San Francisco. Garnering a meager 71.4 passer rating is less than impressive statistically, but statistics don't measure a player's confidence.
Thanks to Sidney Rice's hip and the migraines plaguing Percy Harvin, Jackson managed his time on the field with the offensive weapons available. Despite the loss of the team's leading receivers from 2009, Jackson showed confidence in his offensive tools to complete 64% of his passes. When open receivers were in short supply, Jackson took it into his own hands (literally) to take the T-Jack show on the road. On one of Jackson's carries, he did something most fans never thought they would see him do: slide.
Sliding to avoid a tackle doesn't seem like much for a quarterback. It should be something as easy as taking a snap from the center. With Jackson, however, his willingness to slide showed fans that this man has learned from past mistakes, the same mistakes that have left him injured in previous preseason matchups. Smart move against a 49ers defense that finished the game with 58 tackles, four sacks, and what looked to be an uncalled forced fumble against Favre.
While the Vikings undoubtedly improve through the mere presence of Brett Favre, it should satisfy fans to know that their number two quarterback is developing the way he should have been allowed.