Some Vikings fans, including several 'Norsemen' are under the impression Gus Frerotte's record as the starting quarterback puts to rest any discussion of quarterback controversy. The only real controversy is why Tavaris Jackson wasn't given an opportunity to reclaim his position sooner, in spite of Gus Frerotte's play, despite records.
Tavaris Jackson was named as the game 15 starter since the writing of this blog post.
The arguments go (in bold):
The veteran, proven skilled at reading defenses and able to make all of the throws is inserted into the lineup to steer the ship. His presence, specifically the threat of a vertical passing game keeps the defense honest and allows success in the running game.
This is a completely subjective argument that reads more like a Nordic fairytale of mystical proportions. The valiant quarterback Viking rides in on a purple and gold horse...
The reality of the situation is much less fantastic. Before his
season ending injury, Gus Frerotte was unable to take advantage of one of the leagues most dominant running games featuring the leagues top rusher.
In his 11 games started this year, Frerotte threw the ball downfield 20+ yards just 24 times, more than only four other quarterbacks (most who were more part-time that Frerotte). He threw the ball downfield 40+ yards only eight times in that same span. His propensity to find the open defender has been chronicled, having led the league in interceptions at the time he was injured. Additionally, he had been sacked 29 times. More than any other quarterback on a playoff contending team, and more per pass attempt than everyone other than Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson.
These stats are not indicative of a quarterback making the right reads or throws or decisions in the passing game. On the contrary, these numbers reflect the exact opposite. Frerotte does nothing to enhance the passing game of the Vikings offense. His immobility limits the playbook and hinders the vikings success in the short passing game.
But we're winning with Frerotte! Frerotte is 8-3 (undeserving of credit for the Det. win) since taking over the Vikings offense.
The only statistic that matters in the NFL is wins and losses! As accurate an axiom as you'll find in the NFL, and as true as 'You can't teach speed.'
Though I am as thrilled about the Vikings record as anyone else, the realist in me notes:
Frerotte has also been the beneficiary of a stout defense that has limited opposing offenses and put points on the board in key wins. And the late game (questionable) Pass Interference calls against NO Wk 5 and Det. Wk 6 allowed the Vikes to kick game winning field goals in games they likely would have lost otherwise.
If Jackson was the cause of season opening losses in GB and IND, Frerotte should be credited for the 4 Int gift wrapped victory he handed Chicago in Wk 7. A scoreless second half performance in the Wk 10 come from behind victory by TB was also sealed with a pick!
For their careers, the two have eerily comparable numbers. However, it can be said for Jackson that he is looking forward to his best days while Frerotte's better days are far behind him.
G Att-Comp Pct Att-G Yds Avg Yds-G TD/Int
23 462-268 58.0 20.1 2,970 6.4 129.1 17/17
147 3,106-1,699 54.7 21.1 21,291 6.9 144.8 114/106
Jacksons mobility allows the Vikings to run more play action, bootleg and pick up yards with his feet, and move the pocket from aggressive pass rushers.
It doesn't matter which of these bums quarterbacks the team, they both suck! The Vikings need to upgrade the quarterback position either through the draft or free agency in the off season.
I have heard all sorts of chatter about the Vikings need for a better quarterback. The most interesting of which goes something like: Quarterback X is playing good and he's a free agent after this year, the Vikes should get him.
The name most often given in this argument is New England's Matt Cassell. He's a perennial backup to Tom Brady and a free agent after this year, makes sense right?
No, almost none! The offense the Patriots run is almost the antithesis to what the Vikings roster is built for and Childress' vision. Cassell has excelled at standing seven to ten yards behind center, surveying the field and choosing one of four or five receivers in the formation.
The Vikings' roster and version of the west coast offense is built around running the football, play action and a short passing attack. Believe it or not, the Vikings employ six tight ends/ H-backs for a reason.
What has Cassell done this season to convince Vikings fans he has the skill set to be successful in this offense? That is not to say he couldn't, but most people making this argument seemingly haven't gone beyond passing attempts and touchdown totals in their evaluations. I don't think he has the same level of athleticism seen in successful West Coast quarterbacks (McNabb, Garcia, Favre), and we know what the offense looks like ran by a quarterback with limited mobility (Frerotte).
There is an argument for Childress swallowing his pride and truly giving T-Jack an honest shot at quarterbacking this team, to see what he can do with team on stride. He is a third year pro and, as the numbers above suggest, could have a long career playing in this league. Much of the criticism he's taken in my opinion is premature and/or unfair. Anyone who has closed the book on such a young player doesn't understand player development.
Childress should trust the instinct that made him trade up to get the young athlete with an explosive arm. Four touchdown games aren't common at this level, and we don't need them. Jackson can quarterback this team, whose focus is on running effectively. He only needs to continue playing with the poise that had him take the third down sack on the opening drive of the Cardinals game before he went off.
I welcome thoughtful disagreements and counter arguments!