Ahhhhhh, as another NFL offseason hibernation comes to an end, as I pull myself out of slumber, this couldn't be right. The Viking starting quarterback heading into week 1 is............who? Naw. No way. Couldn't be.
When going into rest, thoughts of the 2009 season were full of excitement and optimism. The 2008 season represented the return to the playoffs, the first division title in 8 years. At the helm, finally establishing himself as the Minnesota Viking starting quarterback, was third year signal caller, Tarvaris Jackson. He played brilliantly down the stretch. In the decisive month of the season, December, he posted a blazing quarterback rating of 115! While throwing 8 touchdowns to a single pick, there simply was not a quarterback in the league playing better than Jackson heading into the playoffs.
There was that gem of course against the eventual conference champion, Arizona Cardinals, where Jackson threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions earning himself NFC-offensive-player of-the-week honors. In fact his season quarterback rating of 95, was sixth highest in the league amongst starting quarterbacks. Despite the clunker in the playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he was a sitting duck against a defense completely overwhelming the Viking offensive line, the future for the young quarterback was certainly bright. Besides, don't most quarterbacks of note, go thru the growing pains of a rough first ever playoff start?
Oh yes, I couldn't wait for Jackson to pick up in '09, the way he played in '08. Prorating his production over the course of the entire season had he played all 64 quarters, his numbers would have translated into 25 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 2938 yards passing, and 386 yards rushing on five yards per carry. Excellent numbers, and say, if the Vikings were to throw in a first round draft pick that would bolster his receiving corps, say like a speedy gamebreaker like.....hmm... Percy Harvin from the University of Florida, a pro bowl season for Jackson in 2009 should not come as a surprise.
Yes, with Jackson heading into his fourth season, (third year as a starter), Adrian Peterson heading into his third season, and Sidney Rice heading into his third season, the future for key offensive components is indeed bright for the 2009 Vikings. With E. J. Henderson returning at middle linebacker after missing almost all of 2008, the defense should be one of the league's elite. With an offense in 2008, that averaged 24 points a game, 12th best in the league, everything would seem to be in place for the Vikings to take that next step, from division champion, to conference champion in 2009. I can't wait!
What's that? You mean those awful dreams I was having during the summer months were actually, were actually not dreams at all? What do you mean? Come on, Coach Brad Childress, for all of his shortcomings as a head football coach, certainly would not want to derail the team's obvious momentum by introducing a circus into their offseason. Surely he would not want to undermine Jackson's leadership role with his teammates by flirting with the league's number one drama queen, the number one Viking nemesis of all time, Brett Favre. That's laughable. Right?
I mean, I realize the fascinating thing about dreams, are their ability to seem real, even though we know they are not. I mean I was aware of the self-induced degradation of an NFL head coach actually begging and groveling over a 39 year old quarterback to come out of his second or third or fourth or, (I don't really remember)"retirement". But I knew it was all just a dream, and when I woke up in September everything would be back to normal. Right? I mean come on, you cannot be serious, Childress and everybody else saw an old and battered shell of a once star quarterback implode the New York Jets last year. That's why it appeared that when the Jets released him, no one even cared about the deal that forbade Favre from playing in the NFC North anymore, because everyone saw that the man was done as an NFL quarterback. Right?
I mean come on, Favre's month of December last year featured a quarterback rating of 53, with two touchdowns and eight of his league leading 22 interceptions. No NFL coach would sacrifice the ascendency of a young nucleus of offensive components for a battered quarterback that would be 40 years old during that upcoming season. Not even the St. Louis Rams coach who won only two games in '08, not even the Kansas City Chiefs coach who inherited a two win team in '08, and not even the Detroit Lions coach, who inherited the first 0-16 team in NFL history would go after Brett Favre at this point. Why in the world would a coach that won his division last year resort to such desperation? It simply cannot be true.
You mean it is....................? All joking aside, this was not just a horrible horrible dream? The man all Viking fans loved to see John Randle pound into the turf more than any other, is going to don the purple? Say it ain't so!
The visions of Viking fans acutally wearing Viking Favre jerseys and not burning them are real? Visions of Viking fans actually cheering Favre and not booing him out of the Metrodome are real? Visions of the Viking mascot actually hugging Brett Favre are real? You mean to tell me that this has not just been a July and August nightmare?
Sadly, after shaking off the grogginess, it is becoming more and more apparent that this is real. This is really going to happen. The dreaded Brett Favre, Viking enemy number one, is going to run out of the Viking tunnel in Cleveland on Sunday, adorned in Viking attire. What a sight to see. What a potentially damaging experiment to undertake.
Don't get me wrong, I fully expect the Vikings to beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and to reach double digit wins on the season. There probably is not a more talented roster from top to bottom in the NFL. If the Vikings go-for-broke experiment does not produce a super bowl however, what are the long term ramifications to what has been done to the chemistry and relationships on this team? A team that seemingly has been set up for a long run as an NFL elite, could be undone by a gamble that only one team in the NFL felt worth taking.