We are now several days into the Post-Childress era of Vikings football, but still several more days away from the first game of what will henceforth be known as "the Golden Age of Vikings football". While Leslie Frazier has been tasked with the monumental task of turning a sinking ship around, it isn't the hardest thing he has to do. Frazier needs to do the smart thing and put Favre out to pasture.
Criticism of Favre's play is not new by any means. Some have been calling for a change since before the Randy Moss debacle. A bold few even wanted Jackson to start since day 1 this season after Favre missed the entire offseason and training camp. But now the call for Favre's removal has begun to approach fever pitch, and with good reason. After the jump is the case for why Tarvaris Jackson needs to replace Favre as starter on this team immediately.1. Kick the Tires. This one is probably the most familiar to everyone. Tarvaris Jackson hasn't started a game since the playoff loss following the 2008 season. He has spent all the time since then sitting behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Through sheer osmosis, one would think Jackson should improve at least a little in that time. Starting Jackson would allow us to see what, if any, improvement has been made by Jackson. This is especially important because Jackson's contract expires after this season. Whether or not to re-sign him will be one of the biggest questions for this team heading into the offseason. Before we let him walk, aren't all of you even a little curious to see if Jackson has learned anything under Favre these last couple years? And to all the haters screaming "NO! He used to suck and he always will" out there, have you seen Darko Milicic lately?
2. The Bargaining Table. This one is a little more abstract but hang with me. Jackson playing will put the Vikings in a stronger bargaining position should they wish to pursue a big name free agent quarterback, or trade up in the draft (we're not going to be bad enough to have a shot at Andrew Luck without trading) to get one. Everyone knows that Favre is done. And no one believes that Jackson is in the long term plans for this franchise. The Vikings scream "desperate for a quarterback" to every player looking for a payday and every team looking to rob us on draft night. Now imagine for a moment that Jackson starts these last 5-6 games and plays adequately (or even...great?). Suddenly, maybe the Vikings don't need a quarterback. Maybe it's more of a luxury that doesn't need to be immediately addressed (at least to outside eyes). Demand drops, supply stays the same and prices drop. Basic economics. This is a no lose scenario because even if Jackson sucks, we can't be in much of a worse position at the bargaining table than we are now.
3. Can't Get Any Worse. All kidding aside, it's virtually impossible for Tarvaris to play any worse than Brett Favre has this season. There is no way around it anymore; Brett sucks this year. He is single-handedly averaging 2 turnovers per game (sadly, not a career worst mark for him). But even that wouldn't be so bad if he weren't averaging less than a TD per game (.90 TD/game, and that is a career worst). The Vikings lead the league in turnover margin with a humiliating -13 and it's actively hurting our ability to win games. I honestly believe that Jackson starting all year could have given us 2-3 more wins right now on the merit of fewer turnovers alone.
4. Existentialism. We just need to ask ourselves "Why?". Painful as it is for me to admit, the Minnesota Vikings season is essentially over. A 9-7 record is a long shot, and unlikely to get us into the playoffs anyways. And following that reasoning, there is absolutely NO REASON for Favre to continue starting. Brett Favre came back for one last shot at Super Bowl glory. That is now gone (and honestly, I'm a little surprised that Favre hasn't retired yet in lieu of this). He has no contract for 2011 and has repeatedly expressed his desire to retire after this season (yea, yea call me a fool but I believe him this time). With the postseason an evaporating mist of a dream, Brett has nothing else to play for other than to increase his personal records. Unfortunately, since the main records he's piling on are his epic fumbles and interceptions records, this is not helping the team.
5. Brett Who? You think Brett is regretting that he didn't hang a "gone fishin" sign on his door the minute he heard the Vikings were sending a group of his buddies to recruit him back for one more season? Brett has been the butt of more sexting jokes than I had ever imagined could even exist, and almost as many jokes about his age this year. After getting swept by the Packers in convincing fashion, the question was finally raised; is Brett continuing to play hurting his legacy? To which I give an emphatic "YES!". Not only will continuing to play potentially cause further damage to Favre's legacy as we watch him get pulverized into a very gimpy, turnover prone pulp, but it may also see "The Streak" end on someone else's terms. Can you imagine if Cal Ripken's Iron Man streak had ended with a league suspension? Instead of a suspension, Goodell could instead send Favre off into the sunset with an epic slowclap of teen-romcom proportions.
6. Who's the Boss? Benching Favre sends a message to the fans, the media and the players in the locker room that, contrary to how it most definitely appears to everyone, Brett Favre is NOT the ultimate authority on this team. Maybe if Leslie Frazier was (you remember him, he's that coach guy I mentioned earlier), the team would be less dysfunctional. Instead, it appears that this guy is ultimately in charge.
7. Maybe the Critics are Right. Maybe all the cynics and pessimists are right and Jackson will suck, and the Vikings will continue to lose. But then the Vikings will get a top 15 draft pick out of it, and we'll know once and for all that Jackson will not work for the Vikings. That means, even in the worst case scenario, we get at least two major positives out of the deal.
Now some will say, "Brett will play better now because he won't be fighting with Childress anymore and he can finally be free to do his own thing and gunsling around." My response to that is a resounding "So what?". Even if Brett closes out the season in the second hottest way imaginable (the first being sexting pictures of his junk to Roger Goodell with the message "This is for the Williams Wall" attached) and Favre sticks it to his critics one last time, we almost certainly still don't make the playoffs and Brett rides off into the sunset on his lawn mower (Patrick Dempsey style) while we are left to pick up the pieces of a season too mediocre to net us a playoff appearance or a high draft pick.
Unfortunately, Coach Frazier has decided to throw caution to the wind and is starting Brett on Sunday anyways. Or maybe he just doesn't have the power to actually bench Favre. Whatever the reason, the Favre experiment will continue for the foreseeable future. Let's just hope that isn't much longer.