QB carousel affects the line

The Vikings are expected to start their third different quarterback in three weeks Monday when the Vikings play the Bears at TCF Bank Stadium. While the carousel of signal-callers is a problem of its own, it creates a secondary problem for the offensive line, especially with an O-line with two new starters at guard.

The Vikings' final home game Monday will pit the Vikings and Chicago Bears in a game that few could have envisioned would be playing out as it is in the days leading up to the contest. Not only are the Vikings and Bears going to play outside, they're going into the game with the third different starting quarterback in as many weeks.

Brett Favre made what might be the last start of his career two weeks ago against Buffalo. Last week, Tarvaris Jackson's consecutive starting streak began and ended at one – Jackson was placed on injured reserve Wednesday to end his season. As such, the battle for the starting job Monday will likely come down to sixth-round rookie Joe Webb and recently signed journeyman free agent Patrick Ramsey.

While adjustments are taking place with the quarterbacks and receivers, the offensive line said the hardest part isn't switching from a glacier like Favre to a scrambler like Jackson. The biggest problem isn't the speed or mobility of the different quarterbacks. It's all in the voice.

"Surprisingly, most people would think it's a lot different, but it's more about the snap count," offensive tackle Phil Loadholt said. "It's something you can correct after hearing it a few times. I know when Brett came here last year, when we first started working together, I was jumping all the time. He was telling me the idea is to get the defense to jump, not me. We got it straight pretty quick, but it was tough at first."

The voice inflection can be a problem for linemen that have to get out of their stances quickly to get in position to block. A half-second delay can be the difference between opening a running lane or preventing the quarterback from taking a shot. For the last two years, the linemen have essentially just had to deal with Favre. In two weeks, they have dealt with their entire roster of quarterbacks.

"Everybody has his own unique cadence," guard Chris DeGeare said. "You need time to adjust to how he makes the calls and barks the snap count or calls out the play we had in the huddle. They all have their own little rhythm. We had a lot of work with Tarvaris during the season, so it wasn't that hard when he took over the starting job. Hopefully, we're going to be able to work with Joe so we all get on the same page."

While adjusting to the voice inflection is one thing, the blocking schemes change from one quarterback to the next. Ryan Cook said that the quarterbacks are different by design and that the blocking schemes change to play to their individual strengths.

"The difference between Brett and Tarvaris is totally different as far as movement in the pocket," Cook said. "Brett is pretty much a pocket passer. Tarvaris is more of a rollout, move-around guy. Joe is a lot like Tarvaris in the way he moves in the pocket, so that's good for us moving to him. You need to modify your protections when you have a quarterback who can move out of the pocket. Joe likes to run, so we're going to have to be prepared for that."

While Jackson and Webb both bring the element of taking off with the ball and potentially running for long gains, Loadholt said they knew one thing about Favre – when he dropped back to pass, for better or worse, he wasn't going anywhere.

"Scrambling isn't something you had to worry about with Brett," Loadholt said. "With Tarvaris, you could have a play you think is done and he runs by you. With Brett, you knew where he was going to be. He's going to be behind you."

The Vikings have found it difficult of late to have any sort of cohesiveness on offense. Anthony Herrera was lost for the season in November. Steve Hutchinson has missed the last two games with a broken hand. Favre isn't likely to return to the field. Jackson surely won't. It's been a transition that is fluid and continues to change from week to week.

"We've had a lot of moving parts around here," Cook said. "Chris and I have both moved to the guard spots with injuries to Anthony and Hutch and we've gone through two quarterbacks. It seems like there's a different combination every week, but that's part of life in the NFL. You have to be ready to adapt and adjust."

DeGeare was asked if he's starting to feel like something of a curse. With Hutchinson out, DeGeare has started the last two games and is preparing for the Bears with the idea that he will start again. But, if he does it would the third straight start in what was supposed to be a three-game homestand that was intended to be a chance for Favre to stay at home for three games in 70-degree comfort. Instead, if DeGeare starts Monday, it will be the third game in three different stadiums with three different starting quarterbacks. It's not the way DeGeare anticipated his career would start, but he wanted to distance himself from the curse talk.

"I guess I hadn't looked at that way," DeGeare said. "I hope nobody is blaming me. I'm not sure how many more quarterbacks we can go through. Three is too many already."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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