Now that Brad Childress is gone and their season is, for all intents and purposes, over, it’s time for the Minnesota Vikings to do what any other team in their position should do: sit their old starting quarterback and see if the next man in line has what it takes to be the man next season. The Vikings are 3-7 in a division with two 7-3 teams that have already beaten them at least once apiece.
There is no pathway to winning the division, and the wildcard is out of the question as well. There ten teams in the NFC with better records than the Vikings, and three of them hold head to head tiebreakers should they end up with identical records. The Vikings may be mathematically alive, but in reality they’re pretty much dead. That’s why firing Childress isn’t a crazy thing to do; he was going to be out after the season anyway, and there’s a guy under him who has been deemed worthy of an opportunity in Leslie Frazier. Better to see if Frazier’s any good now. And you can say the same thing about quarterback Tavaris Jackson.
When we last saw Jackson he was ‘leading’ the Vikings to a division title in 2008. After a bad start to the season, which led to his benching in the first month, he roared back with three good starts where he completed over sixty percent of his passes in each game for a combined 635 yards, 7 touchdowns, and a lone interception. The Vikings won two out those three, clinched the division title, and went to the playoffs…where they were soundly defeated in the wildcard round by the Eagles. Jackson was terrible in that game, going 15 of 35 (42.9 percent) for 164 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick six in a brutal 26-14 loss. Jackson was exposed as a guy who can manage the game and play well enough with the lead, but is hopeless should you find yourself in a must-throw-to-win situation. Since then he’s been sitting behind Favre collecting splinters.
Fast forwarding to today, we really only have two questions to answer. One, has Jackson improved any during his year and a half of watching and learning? And second, is there any reason to keep rolling Favre out there seeing as how he’s gone after this season anyway? If Jackson is good enough now to take the reins permanently then he should get in there, get accustomed to his receivers (many of whom weren’t there when he last started a game), and get rolling. And even if he’s not, then the Vikings need to know if he’s good enough to keep around as a caretaker until whoever they draft to fill the job is ready. You don’t find that out with him holding a clipboard, that’s for sure.
But what about Favre? Vikings owner Zygi Wilf will likely tell you that there are 20 millions reason to play Favre the rest of the way, but that shouldn’t matter. Keeping Favre in the starting lineup does nothing for the long term health of the team. Zero. Besides the money, there is no justification. Winning? I’m sorry, but 3-7 kills that noise; it’s not like they’d be 0-10 with Jackson starting. Scoring? They average 17 points a game with Favre, good for 29th in the league. Favre is bringing nothing special to the table this season that warrants leaving him in there. He’s currently projecting out to 3,632 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 27 interceptions over 16 games. I don’t care that he is a first ballot Hall of Famer; his current performance warrants a benching. You better believe that if Jackson were performing like Favre he’d have been benched already.
And please, save me the streak talk, that you just can’t bench Favre when he’s close to 300 consecutive starts. Oh yes, you can. leaving him in to keep the streak going is fine if he’s playing well. But he isn’t; right now he sucks plain and simple. And no amount of butt kissing by Peter King can change that reality. Keeping him in when he’s stinking up the joint and you have a younger guy at the now or never point in his career (Jackson is 27 years old now) to find out about is coaching malpractice; it’s time to put him down and move on.