A sampling of what columnists and commentators have been saying about Tarvaris Jackson in the wake of yesterday’s disaster. First up, Jim Souhan of the Star-Trib:
Jackson was awful Sunday, and it was his misfortune to play the same position in the same building as a great quarterback who enjoyed none of Jackson’s advantages.
The game played out almost like a football experiment.
Let’s take a Hall of Fame quarterback, give him a few quality receivers and see if he can win, on the road, with little help from the offensive line, running game and rushing defense. Let’s even have the kicker shank a field goal just to raise his blood pressure.
On the other sideline, let’s give a struggling quarterback a powerful running game, a dominating performance by the defensive front seven, a significant home field advantage, and see if he can win.
He couldn’t. The Vikings’ inability to complete meaningful forward passes led to their implosion and one of their worst losses in memory.
Souhan also points out the following rather sobering fact: Brad Childress is 14-20 as coach. Mike Tice was 18-16 in his last 34 games, including a playoff win – with nowhere near as much talent as the Vikings have amassed since giving Tice the heave-ho.
This from Tom Powers of the Pioneer-Press:
Jackson again gave an unsatisfactory performance as the highly touted Vikings fell to 0-2. In the fourth quarter, with the outcome at stake, he completed 3 of 7 passes for 15 yards. It was another weak showing for the helmsman of an alleged juggernaut.
And now we interrupt this column to bring you a message from coach Brad Childress with regards to Jackson: “He’s definitely our quarterback next week.”
I don’t know what it will take to eventually oust him. When does the Love Boat sail again?
Powers also kicks the coaches around, saying:
The play calling by Darrell Bevell, and anyone else who contributed, was awful. No matter how well Adrian Peterson is running, there has to be more balance, more daring. Jackson had thrown for a grand total of seven yards until the final 20 seconds of the first half.
Daring is great, but the daring needs to come at the right times. Throwing a deep pass in willy-nilly isn’t the same as softening up a defense and then trying to hit them with an uppercut.
Back to the Star-Trib and a typical attempt at positive spinmeistering from the always pro-Viking Sid Hartman:
[Leslie] Frazier said he thought the Vikings had good pressure on [Peyton] Manning, whose quarterback ranking of 72.6 was worse than the 73.3 put up by the Vikings’ Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson completed 14 of 24 passes for 130 yards.
However, let’s face it: The experienced quarterback, one who is a perennial winner, was the difference in this game. Jackson might be a great quarterback someday, but Sunday the Colts had the quarterback who made the plays when it counted.
Dear Sid: Tarvaris Jackson will never be a great quarterback. Nice try with that observation about the passer ratings too. It was skewed because Manning threw a couple of picks while Jackson threw none (hard to throw an interception when the ball is ten feet over everyone including your receivers).
Jackson is not there yet. It might take another season before he is there. Meanwhile, the hope is that the great Vikings defense and the rushing ability of Adrian Peterson can help them post a winning record.
A winning record at season’s end would require a 9-5 run. Unfortunately, 9-7 will get you maybe 2nd in the division and probably not even a wild card with all the good teams in the NFC. And please don’t talk about another year of Jackson – I can’t handle even one more game.
Don Banks of SI.com was harder on T-Jack and the coaching staff:
The Vikings can talk all they want about the progress and development of their third-year quarterback, but let’s face facts. When the game could have been put beyond the Colts’ reach in Sunday’s second half, Minnesota played not to lose rather than to win. And it did so because it still doesn’t trust its passing game.
Up 15-7 with just under eight minutes remaining, the Vikings had a 3rd-and-5 at the Colts’ 31. A first down there and you give yourself a great shot to both grab at least an 11-point lead and further milk the clock in the process. With Adrian Peterson out after getting the call on the previous four plays, the Vikings eschewed a safe pass and ran Chester Taylor for a 1-yard pickup.
Why? Because there is no truly safe pass in Minnesota’s playbook. At least not when Jackson throws it. He has yet to develop the consistency needed to make the Vikings anything but a one-dimensional offense, with that dimension being Peterson’s other-worldly rushing skills.
Want to make yourself sick? Imagine what the Vikings would be without Adrian Peterson. Yeah, Chester’s a nice back, but he’s not capable of mounting an offense almost single-handedly. After 2 games, Adrian leads with NFL with 263 rushing yards. Add to that his 31 receiving yards and you get 294 yards from scrimmage – 43.5% of the team’s 675 total offensive yards. After 2 games, Garrett Mills is the leading receiver with 49 yards – all amassed in the first game (he caught not a single pass in the second game, while Visanthe Shiancoe was out there dropping touchdowns). Peterson actually leads the team in receptions with 5.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com continues the discussion of the above-mentioned 3rd-and-5 running play to Chester Taylor:
We’re not saying the Vikings made a bad decision on Taylor’s failed third-down run. They handed it to the best offensive player they had on the field — which, more than anything, explains the problem. Based on what we’ve seen in the first two games of the season, we probably wouldn’t trust the Vikings’ passing offense to convert a key third-down play either.
We caught up to Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell afterward and asked him whether the Vikings trust Jackson to make a play in that situation — or if they simply saw a defensive look they wanted to exploit in the running game.
“We felt like we were pushing them around,” Bevell said. “We were running the ball well. I don’t want to say we didn’t have confidence in Tarvaris at that point.”
Unfortunately, actions speak louder than words in this instance. It’s fair to say that most NFL offenses are better equipped to convert a third-and-five through the air than on the ground. Yet even after signing free-agent receiver Bernard Berrian and putting Jackson through another developmental offseason, the Vikings know they are better off running on passing downs.
This is a classic chicken or the egg question: Do the Vikings run a vanilla offense because Jackson is no good, or does Jackson look bad because the Vikings run such a vanilla offense? The only way to untangle this one? Let someone else play quarterback. Perhaps Gus Frerotte…or Jeff Garcia? And if the passing game is still predictable and stinky after that? We can all apologize to Tarvaris Jackson…then go out and buy some Packer jerseys.
Topics: Adrian Peterson, Brad Childress, Chester Taylor, Darrell Bevell, Don Banks, Garrett Mills, Gus Frerotte, Jeff Garcia, Jim Souhan, Kevin Seifert, Leslie Frazier, Mike Tice, Minnesota Vikings, Peyton Manning, Sid Hartman, Tarvaris Jackson, Tom Powers, Visanthe Shiancoe