Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
With a quarterback that has experience
But can't move in the pocket to save his life
Or change despite a sea of doubters
And possibly silence them? To win, to learn
If we have our quarterback of the future
Or if we need to dream of next season.
Man, if Shakespeare was alive, he would so totally be stomping a mudhole in me right now. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if Kenneth Branagh showed up on my front doorstep tomorrow.
But after the events that transpired yesterday in Detroit, we may actually have a full-on quarterback controversy here in Minnesota. Yes, since the Vikings made the change from Tarvaris Jackson to Gus Frerotte at quarterback, they've won 8 out of 11 games, counting yesterday's 20-16 nail-biter. (And I'll count it because, yes, Gus did start, even though he made absolutely no positive contribution towards said victory.)
However, after injuring his back towards the end of the first half of play, we saw Tarvaris Jackson take a meaningful snap in an NFL game for the first time since the contest against Indianapolis in Week 2. And while Viking nation held their collective breath for a few moments, the kid came into the game in the third quarter and performed very, very well. He finished the game having gone 8/10 for 105 yards and a touchdown in one half of play, with the touchdown coming on a brilliant play fake/roll out to Visanthe Shiancoe in the fourth quarter to give the Vikings a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
The Lions' defense looked thoroughly unprepared for a Jackson appearance, granted. But on the same field where, a year ago, he threw four interceptions and left the game injured in a 20-17 overtime loss, we saw a totally different quarterback than we saw then, and even a different quarterback than we saw in the first two games of this regular season. Jackson was calm. . .he was poised. . .he stood in the face of the rush and didn't get rattled, even after his first pass was nearly intercepted on a play where he got hit as he threw. He read the defense he was presented quite well, and threw the ball with accuracy when he decided where he wanted to go with it.
Yesterday, Tarvaris Jackson played a huge role in a game that was vital to the Vikings post-season chances. . .and looked damn good in doing so. He looked like the quarterback we saw against Denver in the final game of 2007. He looked like the kind of quarterback that might actually have a future with this team after all.
And, as I said in the game thread, I don't want to hear how this was "just the Lions." In six quarters against the Vikings this season, the Detroit defense pretty much handed Gus Frerotte his ass at every opportunity. They sacked him five times in the game at the Metrodome, and they forced him into two interceptions yesterday, both of which fell into the "ugly" category. In fact, the Detroit defense has intercepted four passes this season. . .ALL season. . .in 13 games. Three of those four interceptions have come from the right hand of Gus Frerotte, and his injury came trying to tackle a defensive lineman on the last one.
Yes, the Vikings are 8-3 with Gus Frerotte as their starting quarterback. This team has, however, won a couple of games despite Gus Frerotte and not because of him (the Green Bay game at the Dome springs to mind, as does yesterday's contest). And hey, Tarvaris Jackson was 8-4 as Minnesota's starting quarterback in 2007.
If we're being honest, I'm not sure if Jackson ever should have been benched to start with. . .and I'm not sure if Gus Frerotte has really given us anything to this point in the season that Tarvaris Jackson couldn't have given us. I mean, Gus is a veteran that's seen pretty much every defense known to man, and he still makes plenty of dumb throws and has had plenty of dumb interceptions this season. Plus, pigeons tend to try to land on him when he drops back to pass.
The difference is that we know what Gus Frerotte's ceiling is. We know what Gus can do. We know what Gus is capable of. Despite what many people will tell you, we don't have that same knowledge about Tarvaris Jackson. Anyone that says they do is a liar. The guy's made 16 career NFL starts. In those 16 starts, he has a record of exactly .500. The Vikings have won eight games that he's started at quarterback, and they've lost eight games that he's started at quarterback. He's had various amounts to "do" with each of those victories and each of those losses. Can he be this team's quarterback of the future?
Again. . .we don't know.
But, I think the Vikings owe it to themselves to find out.