Breakdown of the Vikings QB Position

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Today we begin to break down the Vikings offense to determine needs and how the team might address them on draft day.

Quarterback – There has been wide debate on this topic since the season ended. We didn’t get Cutler….WAAAA !! It’s old history so get over it. There is little help in free agency as the players available are probably not an upgrade over what the team already has.

The Brad Childress Man-Crush for Tavaris Jackson seems as strong today as it was when we last saw his grisly effort during the teams short playoff run. The fact that the team brought in Sage Rosenfels to “compete” for the starting job doesn’t really imply what fans want to hear. “Compete ?” With T-Jack ? If there is a competition, then is there really significant improvement ?

Rosenfels is a bit cooler under the gun. He is solid, has good size, feet and a decent arm NFL. He is far advanced compared to Jackson in terms of the mental aspects of the game. Many NFL pundits feel if given the chance to start he will blossom into a very good NFL quarterback. However, there will be growing pains and his upside is limited. He also seems haunted by the occasional inexplicable implosion. ( See Houston vs. Indy ).

That brings us to Tavaris. Hey listen, I am pulling for this kid. I really am ! I think he has shown an excellent work ethic. He’s very coachable, has character and has that big, powerful arm ! He can make all the throws in practice, and Childress loves him !But his inability to read defenses, and his lack of calm under pressure really scares me.

OK, I know he’s young. I also know it usually takes a few years to develop a quarterback, especially one as raw as Jackson was when he was drafted in the second round out of Alabama State. Hey, maybe he will take the next step this year. His improvement from two years ago to last year was significant. He came out of the gate in pre-season and looked ready to lead this team. Then he got hurt, and never seemed to regain that persona we had witnessed.

Which brings me to the next part of my dissertation. Seriously, how many of us could do what these guys do ? Answer ? None of us ! Many of us are beer hall quarterbacks / twilight league softball players who when we manage to hit a 9 hop grounder through the infield, labor to first base, then point our fingers toward the heavens to give the almighty praise for the incredible ability we just displayed to the 14 or so spectators watching.

We feel free… no, entitled …to sit back and criticize a world that few or maybe even none of us really understand. What is it like to have 300 lbs. of sneering, behemoth, adrenaline intoxicated, hormonal freak bearing down on us with one goal in mind………separating you, along with any incidental body parts from the ball.

What about the hours spent in the gym during the off-season. The aches, the pulls, the muscle tears. Have you ever “Torn” a muscle ? Remember the annoying guy in high school who thought he was really cool because every time he got a bruise he would say “ I tore a muscle ?” But he never really did, because if he had, he couldn’t tell you because he was “SCREAMING” !!! Anyway, I digress……

When Jackson returned late in the season, he actually had some very impressive moments. But it all ended like some big tease during the Philadelphia game. Their varied blitz packages made him look like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming locomotive. But Childress loves him !

John David Booty ? I mention him because he’s on the roster, but he’s not a serious option at this time. He will remain on the sidelines carrying his clipboard and learning the nuances of this complicated position. Is he the long term answer ? Too early to tell.
But what about the draft ? Would the team pull the trigger if one of the top 3 are available ? Let’s be realistic. Both Matt Stafford of Georgia and Mark Sanchez of USC WILL be long gone by the time the Vikings pick at # 22. However, if the moon is in retrograde with mars and the alignment of planets causes mass confusion with the 20 GM’s (Detroit picks twice) selecting before them, then the Vikings need to take a hard look at first Stafford and/or Sanchez.

What about the third rated prospect ? Josh Freeman is also unlikely to be available by the time the Vikings pick, however, there is a more realistic possibility that he might somehow slide enough for the Vikings to consider.

Many feel Freeman possesses similar qualities to Falcons QB Matt Ryan, other say he reminds them of JaMarcus Russell. This could of course be wishful thinking as everyone wants to catch Lightning in a bottle with a QB that can come in on day one and not only start but play at a high level.

But the book on Freeman doesn’t support the hype. The point here is that he comes into the league a year early. Quarterbacks who declare early usually struggle mightily at the next level. He is coming off a lackluster junior season in which he was wildly inconsistent. His field vision and leadership skills have been criticized by coaches and scouts.

On the positive side, he has good height and a frame that can handle a little more muscle. His arm strength is elite and he shows good touch while throwing a very catchable ball. He displays very good footwork, a good feel for the pass rush and excellent mobility. Throws well on the run. A classic Boom or bust type who will need to go to a team with a great and patient QB coach. Well, that’s my take. Of course, it’s all speculation at this time.

What we do know, is that the Vikings are having Freeman in for a look, and there is word that Chilly is intrigued. How his workout and interview go will have much bearing on weather the Vikings would be willing to invest a number one on him. They might even entertain the thought of trading up if they don’t feel he will be around.

– Stay tuned.

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