"Vikings coach Brad Childress downplayed the injury.
"'He's fine,' he said. 'He just got bumped in the knee. ... Got some ice on it at half. Just a little contusion there.'"OK, probably one of those meaningless preseason injuries that isn't really an injury. But why is Jackson so important?
For one thing, he's playing pretty well in the preseason (in two games, 15-22, 200 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs). He's looking like he just might be ready to prove the critics wrong and be a competent, efficient, playmaking quarterback. Or at the very least, a much improved quarterback from last year, making him at least decent enough not to cost a good team football games.
For another thing, he is really important to the Vikings. Don't forget that the Vikes were 0-4 without Jackson last season, averaging just 10.5 points in those games. I think Jackson's mobility and ability to avoid sacks is important to the Vikes' offense (last season Jackson's sack percentage was half that of Kelly Holcomb or Brooks Bollinger); the pass blocking is occasionally suspect, and the Viking offense last season had virtually no chance when found in something like 2nd and 19.
But here's the real key:
The Vikings don't have a good backup for Tarvaris Jackson!
And once again, my biggest frustration with the Vikings' management is their failure to get a better option at backup quarterback. In 2007, Jackson missed four games with three separate injuries. And if he gets hurt, the Vikes depend on 37 year old Gus Frerotte (who stunk last season, and has a career completion percentage of 54.2%). Frerotte has never been anything other than a decent backup option at best, and now he's 37, and the Vikes, stacked all around the roster, might turn to him if Tarvaris Jackson struggles or gets injured.
I'd be more pleased about the Vikings' decision to commit to Tarvaris Jackson as starting quarterback if they had a real, legitimate backup option ready to go.
It's Tarvaris Jackson or nothing.
(Oh, and two sacks for Jared Allen? This could be a lot of fun).