Rewind three months. Brett Favre isn't even on the Vikings' radar. The attention-craving, flip-flopping, me-me-me quarterback has yet to seriously entertain talk of playing for the Vikes. Instead, it's T-Jack vs. Rosenfels for the starting job, a showdown that doesn't have a clear favorite and will occur months down the road in training camp.
Well, we're back to that point. Still don't know who the 2009 starter is, still waiting to see how Tarvaris and Sage perform in Mankato -- but now, we're only days away from the start of the quarterback competition. Let's break it down after the jump...
At this point, the race for the starting job has been previewed pretty well. We know the pros and cons of each quarterback. We know that if Tarvaris plays at the level he did near the end of last season, he wins the starting job. We know he has a damn good arm and the ability to escape pressure. But we also know he's still very raw. His decision-making ability came under extensive criticism last season, and I think his game needs a ton of polish.
Sage has been around quite a bit longer than Jackson -- eight seasons in the NFL, compared to T-Jack's three. Still, T-Jack has started 19 games while Rosenfels has started just 12. Concerns about Jackson's inability to move the ball could push the coaching staff to Sage, as he averaged 8.2 yards per attempted pass last season while T-Jack averaged just 7.1 yards (of course, when Bobby Wade is your second-leading receiver, you could use another weapon or two). But Sage's 10 interceptions in just 174 pass attempts in 2008 shouldn't be ignored.
Just as important as the numbers is the mental component of what each guy brings to the table. That's going to be important -- quite a bit more important than usual, given the bizarre circumstances. Which guy can deal with the fact that he wasn't the team's first choice for starting quarterback? Which guy can handle the pressure and scrutiny associated with filling a spot in the starting lineup that most expected Brett Favre to fill? And let's not forget the high expectations the Vikings had even without Favre. Which quarterback is best-suited for handling the pressures of leading a playoff-caliber team?
I'm inclined to believe that man is Sage Rosenfels. And that's not a testament to his leadership ability or his ability to maintain a sense of poise and composure while dealing with pressure. Instead, I chose him by default. I'm not confident in T-Jack's ability to handle pressure, I'm not confident in his ability to handle the scrutiny in a calm, collected manner. Let's be honest: We've seen little to suggest that the man can remain focused in tough situations.
Again, though, we've got to look at the complete package. I love T-Jack's strong arm and athleticism, but I wonder if he's mentally equipped to handle pressure. Meanwhile, Rosenfels has a superior ability to move the ball than Jackson has displayed -- even if he'll produce more turnovers than Jackson.
In my book, Rosenfels gets the slight edge as the Vikes head into training camp. But that could change dramatically depending on what we see in training camp and the preseason.
If Jackson comes out with guns blazing, I think you've gotta go with the hot hand and hope the kid can sustain it. If you don't think he can handle the pressure and you see a repeat of the first and second weeks of last season on the horizon, I think you're left with little choice but to go with the veteran.
This is gonna be fun. The offseason intrigue continues -- transitioning from a selfish guy who has at long last entered irrelevancy to a competition between T-Jack and Sage that could legitimately go either way. I'm interested to hear who your early favorite is in the comments and poll.