Is Jackson Ready?

The Vikings have pros and cons with each of their starting quarterback options next Sunday in Detroit. The fans' choice would seem to be rookie Tarvaris Jackson, but is he ready? He answers that question.

Brad Childress officially has a quarterback controversy on his hands with four games left in the season.

The Vikings coach must elect whether to keep struggling veteran Brad Johnson in the starting role, attempt to turn to backup Brooks Bollinger or really look to the future and give second-round pick Tarvaris Jackson his chance.

The problem for Childress is option B (Bollinger) might not be realistic for Sunday's game at Detroit because Bollinger suffered an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the Vikings' 23-13 loss last Sunday at Chicago.

Bollinger had replaced Johnson after he threw his season-high fourth interception of the game and compiled a career-low 10.3 quarterback rating. If Bollinger isn't available — and considering his arm was in a sling and he needed help getting dressed after the Bears loss, that seems likely — Childress' options are to stick with Johnson or turn to Jackson.

Jackson, who was a surprise second-round pick out of Division I-AA Alabama State, finished up Sunday's game, completing three of four passes for 35 yards though he also fumbled away the ball late in the fourth quarter.

Childress, of course, would not commit to who might start during his postgame news conference, but Jackson had a telling comment when asked if he was ready to take over.

"Not really," he said. "I want to be but if it comes down to that, I'd go out there and just give it my best shot really."

Considering the Vikings are 5-7, Childress might be tempted to look toward 2007 and give Jackson his chance as the Vikings close the regular season with games against Detroit (away), the Jets (home), Green Bay (away) and St. Louis (home).

It is looking more and more as if the 38-year-old Johnson is in his final season with the Vikings and even though Childress likes Bollinger, he isn't this team's long-term solution.

By playing Jackson now, the Vikings would not only get him some experience but also get a good indication of whether he will be ready to take over next season or if another year of serving as an understudy will be necessary.

If that is the case, the Vikings might be tempted to take a look at who is available on the open market during the offseason. The team was known to be interested last offseason in Atlanta's Matt Schaub, who will be a restricted free agent in March.

Turning to Jackson now also might give some hope to a defense that clearly has grown tired of doing most of the work and seeing the offense fail.

On Sunday, the Vikings held the Bears to 107 total yards and Rex Grossman was intercepted three times and had a quarterback rating of 1.3. Yet, the Vikings offense was unable to turn any of the interceptions into points.

"I don't even know what to say to the guys," receiver Travis Taylor said. "When the defense plays like it's playing and you're losing games, you find yourself (thinking), ‘What do I say to these guys.' You don't even want to (talk) with them because you know we're not holding up our end of the bargain with these guys. And these guys go out and play every game and they're shutting people down."


  • WR Troy Williamson was inactive for Sunday's game, marking the first time he has not played in a game this season. Brad Childress had said Williamson would not be disciplined after he was punched in the left eye by a night club bouncer early on Nov. 27, but the coach decided to go with four receivers against the Bears.

  • RB Chester Taylor went over the 1,000-yard mark at Chicago. He became the first Vikings' running back to reach that total since Michael Bennett rushed for 1,296 yards in 2002.

  • CB Antoine Winfield tied his career high for interceptions in a single season when he picked off his fourth pass of the season on Sunday. Winfield also had four interceptions last season.

  • Veterans Mike Rosenthal and Jason Whittle started at right tackle and right guard, respectively, in placed of the injured Marcus Johnson and Artis Hicks. Both have sprained ankles. Rookie Ryan Cook also saw action for five series in place of Rosenthal.

  • Tight end Jermaine Wiggins and nose tackle Pat Williams both played despite injuries to their right knees. Wiggins, who sprained the MCL in his right knee on Nov. 26 against Arizona, still caught three passes for 30 yards.

  • The Vikings gave up a punt return for a touchdown to Chicago's Devin Hester in the second quarter, marking the second time in as many weeks the special teams gave up a TD return. Arizona's J.J. Arrington took the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago.

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