And that's depressing. Tarvaris Jackson mostly stunk in his 16 career starts. He showed little pocket presence, made some wacky decisions, and most telling, frequently threw wildly inaccurate passes. But he occasionally made some athletic plays, some good throws. He had a few efficient, effective games. He did enough to make us sometimes believe he was a young division 1AA QB that lacked experience and could improve. We could at least believe in potential, even if it was impossible.
And so here we are: a young inaccurate QB that got benched because he was afraid to make mistakes and the offense was severely limited with him in there, and a 37 year old average QB that can make throws and opens up the offense but also makes his share of mistakes and isn't ever going to be better than he is.
A team like that can win 9-10 games, can make the playoffs, can win a division. Teams have made the playoffs with lesser QBs than Gus Frerotte. But...that's it. They don't usually get further without quality QB play.
So we can watch the 2008 Vikings, hope the passing game does just enough, hope Adrian Peterson can do some crazy running, hope the defense comes through to bail this team out of close games again and again, and just maybe make the playoffs. I'll even go wacko and say I think that it will happen.
But that's it--that's really our best hope for the 2008 Vikings. Are you satisfied watching a team struggle to try make the playoffs knowing that when they get there they'll just get whipped by a team with a real quarterback? I'm not. The Vikings have done everything in their history except win a Super Bowl--eking their way toward the playoffs isn't quite enough. Not with Adrian Peterson. Not with Kevin Williams. Not with Jared Allen.
But this team just doesn't have a quarterback to do better. That's why three different times this season when the Vikes had the ball in the fourth quarter, needing a touchdown to win or tie, the Viking QB threw an interception. That's what this team is--they might win 9-10 games, but they're stuck with lousy QBs and aren't going to go any further.
(Oh, I'll watch and root and totally invest my emotional and psychological energy into it. I'll never quite give up my hope that the Vikings can win the Super Bowl this year until they are mathematically eliminated. That's my curse: hope. I always hope that it can happen, and even as I write this I foolishly do believe it can happen. When it comes to the Vikes, I don't entirely have the faculty of reason, and I don't believe what I'm writing on a deep level, because I have this stupid hope. But pay no attention to the man behind the parentheses).
It's all coming back to what it's always come back to. The Vikings don't have a quarterback. No matter what they do this year, they're looking for a quarterback for next year. Whether an experienced veteran, an inexperienced young QB, even a rookie, the Vikes will continue to look for the QB that can actually take them to that Super Bowl. It's the most important position in the game, and it's the Vikings' biggest weakness. Enjoy 2008 for what you can; starting in the 2009 off-season our primary attention is going to be on where the Vikings find a new starting quarterback.