Before I get into the meat of the actual article, let me say to those of you who are having trouble finding the hoodies that I reviewed on the site that I am efforting to find somewhere that has them readily available. Every online outlet I've tried says they're sold out, and I saw one going on EBay for about $150. Hopefully they'll start appearing again here somewhere before too much longer. When they do, there will be a link here.
With that said, I want to start this post with a declaration:
The Minnesota Vikings' quarterback of the present and quarterback of the future are the same guy. . .and he's already here.
Yes, folks, I believe that Tarvaris Jackson has earned the right to be the starting quarterback for this football team next year, beyond the shadow of a doubt. What #7 showed me in the last eight minutes of the game on Sunday afternoon is that he has what it takes to be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. When it looked like the rest of the team had rolled over and quit, Jackson brought them back.
Now, some of you will say, "Yes, Gonzo, but he had the fumble in overtime to cost us the football game." That he did, yes. But to focus on that is to ignore the fact that Tarvaris Jackson was the singular reason that that game was in overtime in the first place. Here's the play-by-play of the Vikings' two fourth-quarter scoring drives:
2-1-MIN 40 (7:33) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass short left to 29-C.Taylor to MIN 42 for 2 yards (51-J.Winborn; 98-J.Mallard).
1-10-MIN 42 (7:04) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass deep middle to 19-B.Wade to DEN 28 for 30 yards (55-D.Williams).
1-10-DEN 28 (6:36) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short left to 89-R.Ferguson (41-K.Paymah).
2-10-DEN 28 (6:32) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass short right to 89-R.Ferguson to DEN 26 for 2 yards (55-D.Williams).
3-8-DEN 26 (5:58) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete deep left to 45-G.Mills.
4-8-DEN 26 (5:54) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass deep left to 89-R.Ferguson to DEN 5 for 21 yards (32-D.Bly).
1-5-DEN 5 (5:21) 7-T.Jackson pass short right to 19-B.Wade for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. 7-T.Jackson rushes up the middle. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS.
Okay, unless I miss my guess here, that's a 69-yard drive, taking 8 plays and 2:46 to accomplish. All thanks to Tarvaris Jackson, who completed 6 passes on that drive, including an absolutely brilliant pass to Robert Ferguson to convert on a 4th and 8. And he was kind enough to throw in a two-point conversion, too.
Next Minnesota drive:
1-5-MIN 40 (4:05) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete deep left to 84-A.Allison.
2-5-MIN 40 (4:00) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson up the middle to DEN 28 for 32 yards (24-C.Bailey).
1-10-DEN 28 (3:22) 28-A.Peterson right tackle to DEN 22 for 6 yards (97-K.Peterson, 55-D.Williams).
2-4-DEN 22 (2:37) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete deep left to 89-R.Ferguson.
3-4-DEN 22 (2:30) 7-T.Jackson pass deep left to 19-B.Wade for 22 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
TWO-POINT CONVERSION ATTEMPT. 7-T.Jackson rushes right end. ATTEMPT SUCCEEDS.
65 more yards, much of which came on two big plays by Jackson. . .the quarterback draw that he took for 32 yards, and the touchdown pass to Wade, a play on which either of our other quarterbacks would have been pureed by the Broncos' pass rush. Oh, and another two-point conversion thrown in for good measure, too.
Yes, Jackson's overall numbers yesterday might not blow anybody away. . .16/31, 175 yards, 2 TDs. Throw in what would have been a 72-yard TD pass had the ball been thrown to any other wide receiver in the National Football League. . .more on that in a minute. . .and those numbers increase to 17/32, 247 yards, 3 TDs. I think everybody would have been impressed by that.
Let's keep in mind for a moment that the second-year man from Alabama State has started all of 14 NFL games. He was, essentially, still a rookie this season, and let's face it. . .the receiving corps(e) he was throwing to isn't going to make anyone forget Carter, Moss, and Reed any time soon. Hell, they're barely going to make anyone forget Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson, and Nate Burleson. But despite all of that, all 8 of Minnesota's victories this season came in games where Tarvaris Jackson took the first snap from center. Give him as much or as little credit for those things as you want. . .the fact remains that when someone other than Jackson started at QB for the Vikings in 2007, they were 0-4.
All in all, I think that Jackson has shown enough to keep us from giving up whatever outrageous price the Eagles are going to want for Donovan McNabb (rumored to be three first-round picks at last check. . .yeah, that'll happen), and concentrate on the areas of this team that really need shoring up. I will say, however, that we DO need better backup options than Brooks Bollinger and Kelly Holcomb. Looking at what's available in free agency, someone like a Sage Rosenfels, Quinn Gray, or Josh McCown would be a welcome addition, as well as maybe drafting another guy in the 3rd or 4th round, depending on how the draft falls. But I sure as hell don't want to see either Holcomb or Bollinger back here next season. Their play for most of the season was terrible, and neither of them is the future of this team.
Now, a few other things. . .
-I agree with the sentiment expressed by Holy Hitter over at PV's Sports Toothache: Troy Williamson is officially dead to me.
I've tried to like this guy, I've tried to defend him, and I thought he'd have a breakout season this year. But for crying out loud. . .when you're 15 yards clear of the entire defense, the quarterback puts a perfectly thrown pass in your direction, and you DON'T EVEN GET YOUR HANDS ON IT, it's time to start looking for another line of work. As the people on Vikings' Fan Line said after yesterday's game, that was the worst drop of Williamson's career. . .and that's saying something.
We heard all this stuff about Troy Williamson this off-season. . .how he had gone to the Nike Vision Camp, how'd he'd caught 25,000 balls in practices, things of that nature. I've said numerous times that very few players on the roster have worked harder to improve themselves than Troy Williamson. But it's not working. At all. It's time to move on from the Troy Williamson era/error, and it can't happen too soon for me or for many of you out there, I'm sure.
-Another Viking I'd like to add to the "dead to me" list is Dwight Smith. Everyone knows how I feel about his marijuana arrest and the complete lack of punishment from Brad Childress, but over the last two games, Smith's level of play has gone completely in the crapper. Again, he was the last line of defense on a long TD run for an opponent, and once again he pulled an "ole" that Hemmingway would have been proud of. (Yes, the run got called back because of a penalty. . .that doesn't mean it didn't happen. We all saw it.) Between his three or four altercations with the law in his time here and his complete lack of tackling ability, it's time to look for an upgrade at the safety position, too.
-I really like 80% of our offensive line. McKinnie, Hutchinson, Birk, and Herrera are all outstanding, in my opinion. . .but Ryan Cook. . .ugh. On the Vikings' final play, two guys came practically untouched at Tarvaris Jackson, and Cook was inexplicably standing there looking for someone to block. He was better than I thought he'd be at times this year, but he's got further to go than just about anybody on the roster.
-The lack of Antoine Winfield yesterday really showed when the Broncos ran the football. Everyone knows not to try to run towards the Bermuda Triangle of Williams, Williams and Henderson. . .but when #26 is out of the game, the edges are there to be run on, and that's exactly where the Broncos got the majority of their rushing yards yesterday.
Part of me wants Winfield to continue the role he's played for us since he's been here. . .and part of me wants him to put on about 15 pounds so we can move him back to safety, where I think he'd be outstanding. But it's obvious that we're a much better team with him in the lineup than without.
-Only three receivers on this team should be comfortable with their employment status going into 2008. . .Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison, and Bobby Wade. And, you know, for all the crap people said about Wade going into this season, he's shown that he's a perfectly acceptable NFL wide receiver. Granted, he's better as a #3/slot type of guy than as one of your outside guys. . .so if we can get one more outside type to pair up with Rice and let Wade operate out of the slot, I think you'll see a marked improvement in the passing game next season. Whether that player comes from the draft or from free agency (where there's, quite frankly, not a heck of a lot to be had) remains to be seen.
-Why'd it take us so long to get Garrett Mills into a game after we "stole" him from New England?
That's about everything for tonight, folks. . .I'm going to hang with Mrs. Gonzo here and watch the New Year's festivities from around the country. To each and every one of you out there, have a wonderful and SAFE New Year's Eve, don't do anything stupid (like get drunk out of your mind and get behind the wheel of a car), and when we meet again, the calendar will officially read 2008.
Have a good one, ladies and gentlemen!
Who should be the Vikings' starting quarterback in Week 1 of 2008?
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