Sunday, October 21, 2007

Coming off the ledge: Cowboys 24, Vikings 14

Vikings-Cowboys Box Score at

Tarvaris Jackson

It all looks OK. Jackson is tall, mobile, and strong-armed. When he drops back, when he moves around, when he rifles a all looks like a potentially good NFL quarterback playing football.

Then you see where the ball ends up.

Tarvaris Jackson is not accurate. After today's awful 6-19 performance he's completing 45.9% of his passes this season. That's Mike McMahon bad. During today's broadcast, Troy Aikman said accuracy is the most important ability for a pro quarterback. He would say that, since accuracy was probably his greatest asset (he completed 61.5% of his passes in an offense that featured aggressive downfield passing), but I think he's probably right. Because pro football players are so fast and so quick, a quarterback needs to put the ball in a narrow spot; there's not a lot of space, and a quarterback is going to be required to make tight throws in coverage.

So far, Tarvaris Jackson hasn't shown that ability.

I don't know whether accuracy is an improvable skill at this level or not. It makes sense that practice would improve one's accuracy, and many quarterbacks have had lousy completion percentage early in their careers and improve greatly as their careers progressed (for example, see the early completion percentages for John Elway and Steve Young). However, I suspect that once players have reached the pro level, there's a certain natural ability to throw the ball accurately that practice isn't going to change very much.

And if Tarvaris Jackson doesn't improve his accuracy, it is glaringly obvious he cannot be the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings.

On draft day, I was really desperate for the Vikings to draft Brady Quinn; I believe Quinn could be a 15 year franchise quarterback. I'm glad they drafted Adrian Peterson; I think there are between one and three running backs a decade with his ability. Since I've been watching football, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Davis, Marshall Faulk, and Ladanian Tomlinson are the elite RBs a class above everybody else. Peterson could be in that class, and I'm glad the Vikings took him.

But if Tarvaris Jackson doesn't show major improvement in his ability to throw the ball accurately this season, the Vikings are going to need to draft a quarterback early next season. That's fine: if they can hit on a good quarterback to pair with Peterson, they're going to be wickedly good very soon. But they need to know that. In 2006, Jackson was the Vikings' fourth draft pick, the last player selected in the second round; they don't have as much invested in him as a lot of people think. If he sucks this bad (and "sucks" is an accurate word to describe a 45.9 completion percentage), he cannot be the Viking quarterback of the present or future.

But 2007 is not lost
OK, the Vikes are 2-4--after playing 4 of 6 games on the road. That means that 6 of the next 10 games are in the Metrodome. The Viking defense is good enough and the pass offense bad enough that every game the Vikings play will be close, and I suspect they'll end up with between 6 and 9 wins. To get to 9 (and compete for a playoff spot), they have to go 7-3 the rest of the way. That's a long shot, and frankly, it will be surprising if they're able to do that; a lot of luck has to fall the Vikings' way. But with 6 more home games, it's possible, right? Right? Oh. I see I'm alone in this chamber, demanding to be treated as the King of Spain.


  1. Anonymous10:17 PM

    Well, we've got an awful coaching staff that makes awful decisions. An over paid, very overrated left side. And who ever thinks Herrera made a difference against the bears, must of rode the short bus!!!! From what I've seen, with Hicks in the game. The right side was just as good, if not better than the left. Get ride of the multi-million left side that isn't earning there money and we will have more money to improve in the places that need it. Put Hicks back in. You can't handle the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  2. Anonymous10:52 PM

    Pretty sure that TD today came from the Left Side.

  3. Anonymous10:57 PM

    In fact, Peterson's 3 longest rushes of the day came to the left side.

    12, 15, and 20 yds (20 yd was a TD).

    Yeah, that crappy left side.

  4. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Looking at the play-by-play here is the breakdown of Taylor and Peterson to the left, middle, and right.

    (Left)- 2 carries 3 yards
    (Middle) 5 carries 19 yards
    (Right) 3 carries 25 yards

    (Left) 4 carries 47 yards 1 td
    (Middle) 2 carries 7 yards
    (Right) 6 carries 9 yards

    Together here are the stats-

    (Left) 6 carries 50 yards 1 td
    (Middle) 7 carries 26 yards
    (Right) 9 carries 34 yards

    Yep. That Left side sucks and isn't earining their money.

  5. Anonymous11:15 PM

    And once again, of Peterson's 5 rushing TDs this year 4 of them have been to the left and one has been to the right.

    KC- to the right
    Chicago- all three to the left
    Dallas- to the left

  6. Anonymous12:21 AM

    Listening to the complaints of Vikings fans is a fascinating study of human nature, in that so many people will focus on the minor, sometimes trivial, and sometimes even nonexistent factors which contribute to their unhappy state, as if they cannot stand to look head on at what has really caused their misery, because that would be too painful.

    In every game the Vikings have played, their quarterbacks have made very poor throws to open receivers downfield, and when they have made a good throw, the receivers have often dropped it. Today, it was the quarterback's turn to suck, although he did have one well thrown ball dropped, by Adrian Peterson. You cannot beat an NFL team of any quality while completing seven passes. The only thing Tavaris Jackson does well right now is avoid sacks, but that isn't to say he throws well while avoiding sacks. He doesn't.

    The only thing that can give me some reason for optimism regarding Jackson's prospects at this time is that Tony Romo may not have been any better if he had been asked to start at the same point in his career that Jackson has in in his. What makes me pessimistic about the balance of the Vikikngs schedule is to reflect that as bad as Jackson was today, I don't see much reason to play one of the other two guys, because there is no reason to think that they will improve the Vikings chances of winning.

  7. I am a life long Vikings fan since the days of Tommy Kramer, Sammy White, Darin Nelson, etc. It's not just Jackson. Who in this Vikings receiving corp should opposing defense be afraid of?? Williamson, bust... Wade, yeah right. This receiving corps is not even mediocre. Jackson also needs a quarterback coach to work on his throwing motion and footwork. The quarterback gets a lot of the blame, but it's not just Jackson. There is not one receiver on this team that commands the respect of double coverage. Who's the go-to-guy of this receiving corp?? Exactly.

  8. Anonymous8:23 AM

    Pretty sure that TD today came from the Left Side too

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