Let’s call the Tarvaris Jackson experiment what it looks like, a failure.
I was hoping that last week’s inaccuracy was simply rust from not having played much during the pre-season. But it really didn’t look like rust; it looked like inaccuracy.
I had a lot of hope for Jackson after seeing his play before he was injured in the pre-season. He looked decisive, hit is receivers in stride, and if he still didn’t seem to have the touch on the long ball, at least it looked like he was making solid progress.
It appears not.
The thing with Jackson is that he’ll have streaks where he’ll play wonderfully but those streaks are short and woefully infrequent. For a coach who stresses consistency from all his players, the question this afternoon is whether he’ll hold his starting quarterback to the same standard.
I’ve long lamented that Jackson just has not found the touch for an accurate long ball. As a result, we don’t quite know what we’ve got in Bernard Berrian. More importantly, no one’s afraid of us making them pay for playing eight or ten in the box. When Jackson throws the long ball, he throws it practically straight up, creating a huge arc that gives defenders enough time to recover and forcing his receivers to slow down in adjustment.
Because it appeared Jackson was making progress in other areas of his game, I figured the long ball would come eventually. But Jackson has become inaccurate on practically every pass. He’s throwing behind receivers on the slant. He’s missing receivers on the out. He’s sailing passes thrown to receivers in the flat. He’s throwing passes at his receivers’ feet.
Jackson doesn’t seem to have a feel for how a screen pass develops and when he throws the screen, half the time the ball comes to the receiver at a downward slope and as a bullet. That’s a hard ball to catch.
Jackson never looks downfield on a swing pass. He stares at the running back from the snap of the ball and lofts a soft and airy pass to the back, giving defenders enough time to tackle the guy for a loss, or at best, at the line of scrimmage. The play is useless because Jackson doesn’t sell it.
The one play that has consistently worked for him, the play-action bootleg, has become predictable for that very reason. Defenses are on to it.
When your quarterback can’t make all–or even many–of the throws, you need to scale down the playbook to those plays he’s capable of executing. And that makes your passing offense predictable.
When you hold Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts to 15 points for nearly four quarters and your offense plays most of the game in Colts’ territory yet you don’t score a touchdown, there’s something wrong.
When you’ve got an awesome offensive line (and TJax had plenty of time today), four talented receivers, and both Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor and you can’t score a touchdown, there’s something wrong.
When Adrian Peterson racks up 180 all-purpose yards (160 on the ground) and you don’t score a touchdown, there’s something wrong.
When the Colts’ entire offensive line are backups and starting tight end Dallas Clark is on the bench; when their starting defensive tackle is out, and Bob Sanders, their star safety, leaves the game yet you still lose, there’s something wrong.
When your defensive line is up in Manning’s grill all day and you get two picks and you still lose the game, there’s something wrong.
You can point to Ryan Longwell‘s last, missed, field goal attempt. You can blame (and please do) the loss on Visanthe Shiancoe for dropping another touchdown. But this game should’ve been a blowout. The only reason it wasn’t was because our quarterback could not make Indianapolis pay for their obsession with Adrian Peterson.
I’ve said the Vikings should be fine at quarterback and I still think we can be. But the reason I said that is the presence on our roster of one Gus Frerotte. He’s a veteran quarterback who can read defenses and make sound decisions. He may not be all that mobile, but I’ll take accurate over mobile in an instant. He may not have the rocket arm of Tarvaris Jackson, but what good is power if you can’t put the ball in your receivers’ hands?
There is more than enough talent on this offense to win (if Shiancoe sticks to blocking) and win now. We don’t have to blow out opponents like we did back when Frerotte et. al. were playing pitch and catch with Randy Moss. We just need to score a touchdown or three and let the defense do the rest. It doesn’t look like we can do that with Jackson at the helm.
It’s time to free Gus Frerotte.
Unless you want to gamble another season on the chance that Jackson might develop into a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, never mind a franchise quarterback, then free Frerotte.
It’s awfully hard to have a winning season when you start it off 0-3 or 0-4. If you want to salvage this season, then free Frerotte.
If you want to be coaching next year, free Frerotte.
You can pretty much call me a fan of ProFootballTalk.com, but this “analysis” of how the NFC North will shake out this year is not particularly analytical nor insightful. So, it’s gonna be a battle between the Vikings and the Packers and the Bears and the Lions will not be a factor.
Just phoning it in:
Madden 09 will be available Monday. This year Madden should be much more fun to play than last year because of the additions of Jared Allen, Madieu Williams, Bernard Berrian, and Adrian Peterson should be rated like 98 or 99. With Gus Frerotte at QB, it should be a lot easier to hit open receivers, too. GameStop is featuring the Madden version of Adrian Peterson in their commercials:
According to ESPN, the terms of the trade include a poison pill provision that would send three Jets’ first round draft choices to the Packers if Favre was subsequently traded to the Vikings. Clearly, Favre wanted to play for the Vikings with a passion and the Packers‘ sabotage of his wish shows they’re just a bunch of scaredy cats.
It shoud be quite obvious by now that Green Bay is deathly afraid of the Vikings; Favre in Purple would’ve been far more than they could take.
As I’ve said, with or without Favre, the Vikings are set at quarterback this season.
Yet, it would have been worth a second-round pick to see Favre in Purple on opening day…at Lambeau Field…as the Packers retired number 4. Heh.
As for the rest of the season, I don’t think anyone in their right mind passes on the opportunity to bring in a Hall of Fame quarterback with a good season or two left in him. And he could very well have taken us far; but he also could’ve stunk, badly. Favre doesn’t have a stellar record in the Metrodome and his interception total would likely have skyrocketed as a result.
It’s been almost as much fun watching the Drama Queen sticking it to his former team and Packers’ fans as it has been astonishing at how forgiving Cheeseheads have been of this 38 year old brat.
So we beat on, with TJax at the helm of a much-improved squad this year and we’ll be just fine.
With Torii Hunter playing for tonight’s opponent and Johan Santana pitching for another team in a city on the other side of the nation, it sure don’t feel like Opening Day. Well, yeah, that and the blizzard.
Still, Opening Day is one of my favorite days of the year because, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal. On Opening Day, even with visibility limited, you can see a way for your team to succeed in the coming year.
If Mauer and Morneau and Cuddyer just play the way they did last year and you throw in the speedster Gomez and a Delmon Young and a Craig Monroe and maybe you’ve got enough pop in the lineup to compete. Maybe you’ve got enough pop and power to make up for the insanely youthful pitching staff.
If Hernandez really can eat up some innings, Bonser continues his progress, and Liriano regains his Santana II form, if Neshek continues his fantastic play, Crain comes back strong, and Nathan performs up to par; then, maybe, maybe the Twins have got a shot…?
Hope, as I said, springs eternal. But even if the Twins perform as expected and end in fourth place, they look like they’ve got plenty of talent to be entertaining regardless.
So here’s to the Twins and here’s to Opening Day and here are a few baseball songs to tide you over till first pitch tonight:
After last week, when they had a chance to lock up their playoff spot, it’s sorta pointless to talk about or get your hopes up for a Vikings post-season this year. They could come out and stink or they could play wonderfully and still not make it with a motived Redskins team playing Dallas‘ second-stringers.
So absent the burden and frustration of phantom playoff hopes, my interest will be focused narrowly on my hope for a 400 yard rushing game for Peterson and improved play for Tarvaris Jackson. And one probably depends upon the other.
The Denver Broncos‘ defense is 30th in the league against the run but even a really bad defense can improve significantly against the run by deploying eight or nine men in the box. So we’ll see, but there’s plenty of reason to hope for a big ground game for the Vikings and for Adrian Peterson in particular.
The one thing the Vikings will have to do for Peterson to have a big day, of course, will be to make the Broncos pay for stacking the box. And that depends upon Jackson making those plays, something he hasn’t done consistently.
Maybe the Vikings should come out in no-receiver sets. Sit the receivers in favor of tight ends and fullbacks and maybe an extra offensive lineman. Say to the Broncos, we’re running the ball; try and stop us. It ain’t gonna happen but I’d love to see it.
Peterson needs only 12 yards to overtake Pittsburgh‘s Willie Parker, who is out for the season. But in order to win the title, Adrian will have to significantly outplay LaDainian Tomlinson who has 1,418 yards to Peterson’s 1,305. The problem is that the Chargers play the Oakland Raiders today.
In the passing game, I want to see Jackson make better decisions and not get flustered in the face of a heavy rush. He seems to do just fine when he’s got sufficient time in the pocket, but he’s going to have to learn play well under pressure.
Those are my modest hopes at the end of a disappointing season.