Tarvaris Jackson Goes from Starting Quarterback to Secret Scapegoat

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer ISeptember 18, 2008

Unless you live under a rock, you must now know that Gus Frerotte will be starting under center on Sunday the 21st, instead of Tarvaris Jackson. The reason for this move is because the offense has been “sputtering” through the first two weeks.

Sputtering? How about dropped dead?

Ever since coach Brad Childress, a.k.a. Mr. Noodle, took over the playcalling duties, everyone, even Dan Dierdorf, could call every Vikings play.

If Dierdorf can call the plays while sitting in the CBS television booth, just imagine how giddy Tony Dungy was on the Indianapolis sideline. He probably knew what Childress was “planning” before Childress himself.

I hesitate to say “planning” without giggling because I strongly doubt Childress was doing anything but randomly pointing his finger on his color-coded 5×3 index card, complete with four plays.

Obviously, I’m exaggerating a little. Childress doesn’t limit his playbook to four plays, but he is the worst coach in the league. At least, every Viking fan seems to think so. After busting at the seams in his approval and support of Jackson at the start of the season, Childress has provided  less-than-ideal situations for the quarterback he was going to “mold” into the next Donovan McNabb.

After two dismal losses, the rug of support has been ripped from beneath Jackson, and I am as shocked as Bobby Wade, who said in published reports, “I was very surprised. I didn’t anticipate that.”

This move was undoubtedly made by the front office, and I was shocked at their shortsightedness. The move to bench the quarterback you pledged your allegiance to before the season is not just bad for public relations, it is bad common sense.

Certainly not uncommon in the world of football, Jackson had just assumed the role of scapegoat while his coach got off the hook.

Zygi Wilf

Owner Zygi Wilf

Or did he? I doubt owner Zygi Wilf and Co. will let him get away unscathed. I would have loved to hear the verbal reprimand Childress received on behalf of his horrible play calling. That is, unless the front office didn’t see it, either.

A perfect example of how inept Childress is at managing a game was on the final drive the Vikings had against the Colts in Week Two. With the ball on their own two-yard line, Childress first chose to pound the ball up the middle with Adrian Peterson. A one-yard gain.

With just 1:37 left in this tie game, an upfield throw was inevitable, right? We need to get into field-goal range, quickly. But Childress chose to run Peterson again, this time to the left. To Peterson’s credit, he got six yards on the play. It was 3rd-and-3 on the nine-yard line.

Instead of giving the ball back to Peterson or Taylor (which I wouldn’t have done), or even dropping back to hit a crossing pattern, the Vikings ran a play they had been utilizing all night. Tony Dungy saw it coming a mile away with his eyes closed.

Jackson took the snap, faked the handoff, and rolled out to the right. There were two Colts giving chase before he even had an opportunity to look downfield. Because of the rollout, Jackson was over 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, in his own end zone. With a defender just inches from him, he did the smart thing and dumped the ball to Tahi for a loss of five.

Immediately, the crowd started booing, and with good reason. Jackson did the best he could possibly do in the situation he found himself in; which was another horrible play call. Childress needed a whipping boy once more.

Just to reiterate, I do not think Jackson is a good NFL quarterback. He has the tools to be one, but he is very inconsistent and raw. That being said, no NFL quarterback can perform well if he can’t get into a groove. If you limit your quarterback to nine passes in the first half, like the Vikings did, it is impossible for him to get into any kind of rhythm.

Gus Frerotte

Gus Frerotte

Enter Gus Frerotte.

He is a 15-year veteran and had a passer rating of 58.3 last year in eight games. He threw 12 interceptions, five in one game, compared to seven touchdowns. He sported a completion percentage of 56.3.

Simply put, Frerotte is not the answer in Minnesota. He cannot do anything under this system that Jackson couldn't, and some things Jackson could.

Childress could alter (or smarten) his gameplan and allow his quarterback to throw more, remove the dumb playcalls, and insert some that nobody would expect. If he can successfully do this and make Frerotte appear as a Pro-Bowler, then I’ll sense a conspiracy, but I’ll be happy.

If things continue unchanged, two things will probably happen. First, it will be the earliest I have ever pulled the plug on the season, and, second, Childress will be serving tacos in 2009.


Reprinted from VikingVigil.com