The current quarterbacks as of Monday morning, August 30th, are:
Brett Favre, 40, under contract through 2010 season
Tarvaris Jackson, 27, under contract through 2010 season
Sage Rosenfels, 32, under contract through 2010 season
Joe Webb, 23, under contract for several years
With Favre as the starter, the next item of importance is backing him up. The Vikings have lacked offensive line continuity so far this year. John Sullivan is still trying to return from his calf injury. Favre's ankle still bothers him. He hasn't moved around the pocket quite as well as last year. It is of extreme importance to have backup quarterbacking that can do a good job.
Tarvaris Jackson appears likely to hold on to his second-string quarterback position. While he saw limited action against the Seahawks, he entered the game before Sage Rosenfels. Jackson has never failed to play hard on every play, has been criticized heavily by the fans and the media, and as the epitome of class, has taken his lumps and just kept working. In fact, he has worked very hard. I don't remember him saying anything negative, at least in public. Everyone considers him a good teammate. From various accounts, I have gained the impression that the game has slowed down for him, and he reads defenses. He is improving on his touch passes. The only thing holding him back at this point is a lack of confidence in himself. Jackson plays great in practice. But his lack of confidence exposes itself on the field in game situations. It has got to be tough to have confidence when most fans, the entire media, and even many of his teammates seem to not believe in you. Maybe confidence is something that can grow over time, or maybe not. After he gains confidence, he will evolve into a strong team leader.
We have seen many quarterbacks struggle in their early years, and then a light goes on, and they play great. Rich Gannon was a Viking in his early career. Vikings fans got frustrated with him. Then Denny Green moved on, tossing out the years of investment the Vikings had made in Rich Gannon's development. Gannon went on to a terrific second-half of his career. Not only did he win the MVP award, he led his team to a Super Bowl. When Steve Young started with the NFL, he was a punching bag in a Buccaneers uniform. When he arrived in San Francisco, the fans disliked him. He improved, and now his bust sits in the Hall of Fame.
The Vikings have invested in Tarvaris Jackson's development, and it would be the wrong decision to let some other team have a young quarterback whose light is about to turn on. The Vikings should extend Tarvaris Jackson's contract for a few years, and keep him as the #2 quarterback.
In past years, Tarvaris Jackson was injured from time to time. Could he be injury-prone?
What if, Heaven forbid, Favre goes down? And then, it gets worse, and Jackson goes down?
Sage Rosenfels was the #3 quarterback last year. This year he is much improved, but still can't seem to overtake Jackson on the depth chart. He doesn't have the arm strength of Favre or Jackson, but as a 10-year veteran, he has seen it all. He is a good, solid veteran quarterback who knows the offense and his fellow Vikings players. If called upon, he could do a good job for the Vikings, and could potentially be good enough to lead them into and through the playoffs.
Current fourth-string quarterback Joe Webb has a great deal of potential. By all accounts, however, he is just too raw to play quarterback in the NFL right now. No one can deny his physical talents. Will he mature into a successful NFL quarterback? Only time will tell.
In addition to Favre, which quarterbacks will make it to the Vikings' 53-man roster? The Vikings simply must keep both Jackson and Rosenfels. They are both necessary because in this season, with our offensive line, with Favre's ankle, with the quality of opposing teams on the schedule this year, and with the great potential this team has for a playoff and championship run, we simply need to have both quarterbacks backing up Favre. Let's keep Jackson and Rosenfels on the roster.
As for Joe Webb, he can be kept if there is room for a fourth quarterback. If not, he can be moved to the practice squad. If he wouldn't last there, then we should trade him. This is sad, but trading a player the Vikings have invested little in makes more sense than trading a Jackson or Rosenfels who currently have a lot of Purple investment.
Do not be tempted by Joe Webb's potential in the future, and think we should trade or cut Jackson or Rosenfels. The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. Our job is to stay here and work hard to make our grass the best it can be.
Now, as for the 2011 quarterback situation, it is foreseeable that Favre will finally, sadly retire. Both Jackson and Rosenfels should be signed now to contract extensions. If we are fortunate enough to still have Joe Webb, that will make three quarterbacks coming into camp. Additionally, the Vikings should draft a young quarterback they like. I would like to see the Vikings draft Greg McElroy out of Alabama, as he not only has good mechanics, he has the habit of winning. The young draft pick, plus the top two quarterbacks out of Jackson, Rosenfels, and Webb, would probably survive the cuts to make the 53-man roster in the 2011 season. (If there is no 2011 season, then just push that to the 2012 season).