Sunday, December 7, 2008

The One about the Vikings

I'll readily admit to being a fair-weather Viking fan...maybe a bit more, since I'll watch them if I'm not doing anything else at home, even if they stink. As the NFL years go by, I know less because I care less, but I still have some wisdom about the sport. I was a football nut and played it (poorly) in college, and that basis never really leaves a person. So as I sit around the poker table and listen to the virtually unanimous opinion that Brad Childress is a horrible coach, I ask why and never really get a coherent answer. Play-calling and "should be winning" are the best the poker table can muster, and frankly, I just haven't bought it.

So I ask about the one Childress decision that, to me, was crucial and perhaps displayed poor judgment: don't you think, I ask the big and small blinds, that after just two games removing a young quarterback who's shown some promise, who went 8-4 as a starter last year, who provides an extra athletic dimension...and replacing him with a competent career backup, a never-was, never-will-be, and certainly an ehh QB who's about fifty was a basic poor decision for a coach who needs to make the playoffs and maybe win a game?

The button usually chimes in at this point, stating the obvious, that Tarvaris Jackson sucked in the Vikings' first two games this year. Fair enough, say I, he did pretty much suck. But then I remind the folks that Jackson got hurt in his 2nd preseason game, didn't play until the opener, and maybe he wasn't quite ready to start the season. I translate the "Jackson sucks" and "Gus Frerotte's 5-3" type responses that follow to "I'm a stupid white trash hick" and/or "ok, you caught me, deep down I don't want a black quarterback" and proceed to folding my hand.

At the time of Jackson's demotion, I balked, stating the above. But I also added this: if Childress keeps Jackson on the bench for a few games, it may well help the kid. The learning curve for an NFL quarterback is steep, and when one is expected to both learn and concentrate on performing, the difficulty is another order. I was happy to let Jackson, well familiar with playing NFL games, actually sit on the bench, soak up knowledge that is suddenly pertinent, and gain vision for what's happening on the field. I thought this would take two, maybe three games, and Jackson would be ready to come back and be a decent NFL starting QB.

The problem was, Brad Childress apparently didn't have this plan. He was happy to let Frerotte be his very mediocre self every week with this apparent strategy in mind: the Vikings have a lot of talent, the division is very weak, and a young QB who may or may not be ready will not decide the fate of a coach who only needs to make the playoffs to secure his job.

As a fan, intense or not, I was put off by this decision, and it was the only one I could think of as to why Childress should be fired. I certainly don't want anyone anywhere to get hurt, but I've found myself secretly happy every time Frerotte has gone to the ground with injury. I wanted Jackson back in there, and it appeared that injury (hopefully minor) would be the only way that Childress would allow that.

Today it happened. Jackson, not having played for twelve weeks, came in when Frerotte went down and immediately looked better than Frerotte has in his three months as the starter. Granted, the playbook was short, the actual number of drives was only two, and the opposition hadn't prepared for Jackson. But he performed and performed well. Hopefully, that's the last we'll see of Frerotte as a starter, and we in Minnesota can actually start to think about winning a playoff game.

Oh, and one more thing, Childress should have gone for two against Detroit back on October 12.

1 comment:

Topper said...

Yes. Amen. I've always secretly been giddy when I see Frerotte grimace and limp because I want to see what Jackson's got left in him.

That guy has a cannon of an arm and great movement and to put up with how everyone has been calling him a bust and play like that he's got a helluva lot of moxie and confidence too.

Jackson can and will be a decent to good QB and as much as I don't wish pain on Gus, I'd love to see Jackson get some starts again. Great point about going into the season with virtually no preseason warm-up time and then being demoted by a head coach worried about his job.