His stat line was impressive: 12/15, 202 yards, two touchdowns. People are understandably pleased with how Tarvaris Jackson performed against the Chiefs. After a tough-to-watch preseason debut in Indianapolis, the rebound he pulled off on Friday night was surprising. Or was it?
Let's take a look at the difference between this week's game and last week's game. Last week, T-Jack was in the middle of a quarterback competition. This week, the quarterback competition had been thrown out the window. Last week, the pressure was on him to excel, especially after Sage Rosenfels opened the game with two stellar drives. This week, that pressure was gone -- there was no quarterback he needed to keep pace with.
In other words, Friday's game reinforced something we already knew about T-Jack: He has difficulty handling the pressure associated with being a starter. But when that pressure's off, he's an undeniably solid quarterback.
Indeed, It makes perfect sense that he put up huge numbers when the burden of a quarterback competition had been lifted. He's simply never been able to handle the psychological aspects of being a starting quarterback. He's lacked the confidence needed to start.
Another issue entirely is whether the Vikings should look to deal or retain Jackson based on what they saw on Friday. I think one preseason game is flimsy evidence for keeping a player, but I will say this: It's hard to argue with a perfect quarterback rating. And I like T-Jack much more as a backup or third-string quarterback than a starting quarterback. If they keep him and he's suddenly put in the game, he won't have time to think before entering the field. That's the key. He can't psyche himself out.
Are the Vikings really willing to keep four quarterbacks? That remains to be seen, as some tough decisions will need to be made in the days and weeks ahead. But for those wanting to keep him, he made a good case tonight. It underscores the fact that Jackson could be a pretty good quarterback coming off the bench -- and maintaining some depth at the position is obviously an attractive option when your starter will be turning 40 in October.