This past Sunday the Minnesota Vikings saw what they had seen in parts of 2007 and 2008, and maybe what they will see in 2011. In the Vikings' 38-14 whipping of the Buffalo Bills, Tarvaris Jackson was back under center for four quarters, minus the Vikings' opening possession of the game.
In that opening possession, starting quarterback, Brett Favre, threw his league leading 18th interception. The crunching hit that Favre took, caused his only pass of the game to go awry and injury to his right (throwing) shoulder.
Out went Farve, in came Jackson.
In his second series, Jackson, promptly threw a pick six. Bills 7, Vikings 0. The second Viking interception of the first quarter probably caused many to think the day would be a long one for the purple, but oh how quickly things changed.
To Jackson's credit, on the very next Viking possession, he quickly drove the offense down the field and before you know it, the score was tied. By halftime, the outcome was no longer even in doubt as the Vikings rolled to a 31-7 lead. The 31 point first half total, oh by the way, represented the highest point total for any game all season for the Vikings.
In the first half, Jackson completed 12 out of 17 passes for 170 yards, two touchdowns and the one interception. For the only half of football this season, the Vikings looked like the 2009 juggernaut that frequently ran roughshod over opponents. The defense was stifling, and the offense looked like a machine.
The second half was more of the same for the Viking defense which wound up producing five turnovers on the afternoon, but the Viking offense went into cruise control as Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart pounded out yardage on the ground working the time off the clock, and the passing game grinded to a hault. While the passing game was a non-factor in the second half with only three completions but two more picks, the Vikings were never even remotely threatened by the Bills.
Jackson's shaky second half was reminiscent of his 2007 season - his first as a starter - that was plagued by uneven performances. Jackson's first half Sunday was more reminiscent of his 2008 season that showed more polished and efficient play. The quarterback play last Sunday begs the question, what will the position look like in 2011?
With Head Coach Leslie Frazier's quick announcement of Favre being the starter this Sunday against the New York Giants if the injured shoulder will allow him to play, it is apparent that Favre's record start streak is more important to the Viking franchise, than the direction of the Viking franchise. While Frazier insists the unbelievable consecutive start streak that currently stands at 297 regular season games is not a factor in his decision, he should just admit that it is. That would be the only logical reason to continue to start a quarterback whose nightmarish season is compromising the team's chances to win each week.
With Jackson's strong arm and mobility, the offense was infused with an energy that has been so sorely lacking with Favre at the helm this year. While an individual's record streak should not outweigh the needs of an entire team, the Vikings have evidently made that their choice. Why else would a coach not want to see a continuation of the first dominant performance on both sides of the ball the team has produced all year? Why else would a coach want to return to the starting lineup a quarterback with an injured throwing shoulder that already led the league in turnovers without an injured throwing shoulder?
The franchise should just come clean and admit that the lowest level of starting quarterback play in the league is acceptable to them, and that continuing that quarterback's streak is more important to them than winning this year, or planning for the team's future next year. It is, what it is. If the shoe fits wear it.
With Jackson being a free agent at the end of the season, is he the future starting quarterback for this team? The first real glimpse of extended play from him in a couple of years produced mixed results, obviously more good than bad, as the good occurred during the competitive part of the game, and most of the bad occurred after the outcome of the game had been decided.
Nonetheless, next year might wind up being a terrible time to realize that more attention should have been paid to whom the position would be filled by in 2011, in the last couple of months of 2010.