Depth Perceptions is a weekly look at the depth chart and positional battles all over the NFL.
Regarding the starting quarterback situation with the Minnesota Vikings, this much is clear: they are still searching for one. The 2008 season was somewhat disappointing for the Vikings as they managed to make the playoffs by winning the NFC North only to lose their first postseason contest at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Led by the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense and league-leading rusher Adrian Peterson, the Vikes had some of the significant attributes of successful NFL teams.
But, despite their 10-6 regular season record, their QB play was an Achilles heel in important spots. Journeyman Gus Frerotte threw 15 INTs to just 12TDs in 11 games before succumbing to an injury while Tarvaris Jackson bookended the season, being benched in September and out of sync in the playoff loss to Philly.
This offseason has been dedicated to trying to remedy their QB ills and has seen a trade for experienced Texans’ backup Sage Rosenfels, the release of Frerotte, and copious amounts of drama concerning the NFL’s all time-leading passer, Brett Favre…
(Interview excerpts from this week’s Joe Buck Live on HBO)
Joe Buck: “Do you plan on playing in the NFL next season?”
Brett Favre: “Maybe. I am considering it.”
Joe Buck: “Is Minnesota the only team on your radar?”
Brett Favre: “That’s all I’ve talked to. It makes perfect sense as far as coming back because it’s an offense that I ran for 16 years. I could teach the offense.”
Joe Buck: “What needs to happen for you to sign with the Vikings?”
Brett Favre: “I think first and foremost, I don’t think you can go past anything more than the arm. If that’s not up to par, and it’s not up to par when the time comes, then I can’t play...as I rehab and continue to throw and things, if it ever gets to the point where it feels like it did before it started hurting, then that…the biggest question mark is out of the way.”
And there we have it, my gridiron friends…an answer. It may not be the definitive reply we been waiting for, but it’s safe to say that Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings may very well be a match this time around.
His one-year stop-gap failure (league-leading 22 INTs) in New York has not deterred him from forging ahead with his NFL career, 18 seasons strong and counting.
Favre’s play was erratic last year, particularly in the last five games where he threw 9 INTs during a 1-4 team collapse that saw the Jets blow a golden opportunity to win the division or at least qualify for a wildcard spot.
Can it be blamed on the new system he was working with in New York? Or can it be blamed on his injured bicep? Has the game simply passed him by at age 39?
The Vikings are willing to wait and see how that surgically-repaired arm feels and we should expect to see Favre in purple in 2009, with everyone in Minnesota hoping he catches fire again like he did for Green Bay in 2007 when he threw for over 4,000 yards and 28TDs.
The Vikings took a significant leap of faith when they acquired Rosenfels to challenge for the starting QB position. While a fourth-round pick in the draft was not a heavy price to pay, Minnesota gave him a new two-year, $9 million contract ensuring a commitment to a career backup that has started only 12 games in his eight-year career.
Rosenfels is a well-respected player due to his athleticism and strong arm but his weaknesses of poor-decision making and locking in on receivers are similar to those of the player he is expected to challenge in Tarvaris Jackson. According to head coach Brad Childress, the two QBs are entering June camp in a dead heat and it will probably remain that way through much if the summer.
This could all be academic when Favre is signed but if that does fall through, then my hunch is we are likely to see Rosenfels win the job and try to remain in the starting lineup for a full season for the first time in his career.
“Tarvaris Jackson is one of hardest working guys you are going to find in this 85-man roster right now. Just in terms of the time he spends here, the time he spends in the books, with the wide receivers, in the weight room, strength and conditioning. There are very few people that work as hard as he does in the offseason.”
- Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress
That’s high praise from the head coach on his young, developing quarterback. One factor that should not be underestimated in this battle is the fact that Jackson has been a Viking since 2006.
He knows the system, he knows the team, and many of the players might have his back over a newcomer like Rosenfels. I’m not suggesting mutiny would occur if he lost this battle but it can give an edge to a player when he senses that the locker room is rooting for him.
However, the veteran players know they have some major pieces in place for a playoff run and they are looking for the best QB to lead them there, regardless of his background. This is a wide-open race but my guess is Jackson will have a hard time winning the job over a veteran who has substantial money committed to him.
If Favre’s arm is in decent enough shape after surgery to allow him to get into camp by July and throw effectively, then he’s the man. The smart money would say he’s a Viking within the next couple of weeks.
If Favre is not healed and does decide to call it quits, or temporarily suspend his career, then it is a wide-open race through August. I’m giving Rosenfels the nod over Jackson for his experience and the decent-sized contract that no one wants to see on the bench.
This article was originally published on Fantasy Pros 911, read more right here.