First off, kudos to rukiddn for mentioning this already in the FanPosts, but I just wanted to touch on it a bit more here.
In what can only be described as an earth shattering news break, it’s been made official- the Minnesota Vikings have confirmed that Tarvaris Jackson, the five year perennial starter/backup/starter/backup quarterback, will not be tendered by the team. While the whole CBA process still looms heavy over these kind of announcements, in that we have no idea at what point TJack will be free to seek alternative employment, this means that at the first possible opportunity the divorce will be official.
I was thinking some about this last night, and a few interesting points came into my mind. More after the jump.
So long, TJack.
Now, again, if this development surprises you- well, I just don’t know what to say. Jackson didn’t have much going for him as far as furthering his career as a Minnesota Viking. Granted, he has had his good games and his nice moments throughout his tenure- but he’s also had far more in the department of failures and head-smack inducing moments. He’s also no rookie- he’s a five year vet, and a five year vet who’s had numerous chances to make that starting job his. At this point it was safe to say that his development with the Vikings had long ago hit a ceiling.
Before we move on, let’s be fair and balanced here about this situation. Tarvaris Jackson was selected by Brad Childress in his first year as a ‘diamond in the rough’ quarterback in the second round- he was, from the start, meant to be a developmental project, not a sure thing or a day one starter. And for a developmental guy, he was thrown to wolves awfully fast, his first start coming at the end of his rookie season in a game against the Packers- and in a game where the weather simply seemed to hate the football players on the field. And keep in mind, this was also in the season in which he was quoted as saying he didn’t feel ready to start after two previous relief efforts. After his rookie season, he was named the starter for 2007, and had mediocre (at best) results.
After this, Jackson never had a sure bead on whether or not he was the starter. He consistently competed against journeyman vets, being made the starter, backup, and starter again in a single season in 2008. And while Tarvaris Jackson faced a lot of adversity, he at least had one thing going for him- his head coach, Brad Childress, seemed to have unwavering faith that one day, Jackson would fulfill his ‘promise’. That lasted right up until the 2010 offseason, when Childress decided it was better to send Ryan Longwell, Jared Allen, and Steve Hutchinson away from practice and down to Mississippi to collect some Brett Favre guy, rather than trust in Jackson should Favre, in fact, decide to just call it a career. At that point, it was safe to say that there was absolutely nothing positive left for Tavaris Jackson in Minnesota.
But here’s the very interesting thing about the situation, one I haven’t heard anyone say. The Vikings are obviously in a bit of a transition phase regarding both coaching and quarterbacking. Darrell Bevell and Brad Childress have been replaced by Bill Musgrave and Leslie Frazier. And with Brett Favre having faded away, the only returning quarterback the Vikings now have on roster is Joe Webb, the former rookie third stringer who spent the majority of the 2010 campaign leading the practice team.
Is this decision to cut ties with Jackson bad? No, it’s not. It’s good for the Vikings, for Leslie Frazier, and for Tarvaris Jackson himself. There’s undoubtedly bad mojo between TJack and the Vikes, and Frazier is looking to stamp his own mark upon the team- and TJack was one of the biggest marks of the Childress era. And we’re finally, after many years, looking towards the future at our quarterback situation- we’re done getting journeyman vets to hold down the fort while TJack develops into our QBOTF.
But that said, with our current quarterback situation, it’s still a bit of an interesting move. There’s no guarantee that we’re finding our QBOTF in the draft- short of moving up in the first round, our #12 pick may not be high enough to get one of the top ranked QB prospects. And with the potential lockout possibly keeping OTAs and training camp from happening, as well as casting a pall over FA, getting ourselves a Carson Palmer/ Donovan McNabb type is questionable as well. There is, in fact, the distinct possibility that we are going to enter the 2011 season (whenever it starts) with a QB rotation of Joe Webb/ Rhett Bomar/ Patrick Ramsey.
If you ask me, picking between Joe Webb and Tavaris Jackson is a no-brainer. We’re pretty much positive at this point that TJack is not our answer- and while Webb has lots of question marks, we at least have a potential of success there. But what about picking between Bomar/ Jackson? And Ramsey/ Jackson? Neither Ramsey nor Bomar can possibly have any grasp of our offense yet. And should we not have any offseason programs available, that’s not changing anytime soon. At least Jackson knows our receivers- he’s thrown passes to Percy Harvin, to Bernard Berrian, and to Sidney Rice (fingers crossed on that last one even being with us next year). He’s played behind our O-line, and he’s
handed off to Adrian Peterson. (OK, two things there- first off, handing off a ball to a RB doesn’t take lots of training, so that’s probably a non-issue. And secondly, Jackson did, in fact, take out Peterson’s knee on a handoff last season. Let’s just go ahead and leave that one off the list, shall we?)
So, with that in mind- and I have to believe it’s also in Frazier’s mind- it’s very interesting to note that Jackson was still released, and without any apparent second thought. One must wonder what went on behind the scenes- if anything. Perhaps there was simply no communication whatsoever, and both sides were simply aware that this move was happening one way or another. Perhaps Jackson made it clear to the FO that he had no interest in being part of this organization for another season- and I can’t blame him. And again, perhaps Frazier simply saw Jackson as another mark of Childress’ legacy, a legacy he’s keen to move on from ASAP. And yet, it’s still surprising in a sense that the notion of retaining Jackson as a backup for just one more season while the quarterback situation is settled seems to have never come up- that Frazier never met with Jackson and discussed the possibility with him, and that Jackson didn’t sense a potential ‘fresh start’ right in his own home team with the coaching regime change.
As I said before, this move is in the end neither surprising nor a disagreeable one. But, when one scratches the surface, it does yield a few interesting questions. But one final thought- I do have to say I wish Tarvaris Jackson success wherever he goes (except, of course, against the Vikings).