Jackson Receives Support From Within

Statistically, Tarvaris Jackson had one of the worst outings in franchise history Thursday night, but with an offense that has struggled for most of the season, he received decent reviews from a teammate who would know and his head coach.

Some would say the numbers don't lie, but most in the know say that rookie Tarvaris Jackson's NFL debut wasn't terrible despite only passing for 50 yards.

"You go through your bumps and bruises in the week, but progression-wise I thought he handled things well. It's a total team game, good and bad," said Brad Johnson, who was demoted to second string.

The insertion of Jackson was made to provide a spark, but even when making the move to Jackson, head coach Brad Childress said that the Vikings didn't play well alongside Johnson.

"Sometimes you've got to help yourself and sometimes you need help around you, and we've failed to do that in many areas," Johnson said.

Jackson admitted there are areas for him to improve upon, especially in some of the intangible aspects.

Asked what he needs to do to bring his performance to a winning level, he said, "Just get better as a whole, as a leader, throwing the football and making better decisions. That's pretty much it, and work on all of my mechanics, even in the running game and stuff. Just try to get better overall."

The former Division I-AA quarterback from Alabama State insisted he wasn't nervous in starting debut, and it didn't appear that he was.

"That was the most surprising part. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I was going to be, but I shouldn't be surprised because this is what I've been doing my whole life," Jackson said. "This is a different deal in the NFL, fighting for our playoffs, but I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be. I was just out there playing football and having fun."

He deflected the line the of thinking that his two starts at the end of the season are a tryout to become the starter entering the 2007 offseason. Instead, he said he's just trying to have fun, and that will come with winning football.

He said the playcalling wasn't constricted Thursday night when the Vikings' only points of the night came on a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown.

"Coach called the game just like he would have called it for anybody else. I just tried to take what the defense gives us. I tried to do that and we didn't execute as well as we thought or as well as we should have, so we just have to build on that," Jackson said.

The offense has been in a funk for most of the season, especially when it comes to scoring points, but Thursday night was a low point. The Vikings picked up only three first downs, a franchise low, and had only 104 yards of total offense.

And they continued their inexplicable trend of leading the league in penalties. With one game left, they have 118 penalties – an average of nearly eight penalties per game. Against Green Bay, they had 10 penalties, including two illegal shifts that wiped up third-down completions to Travis Taylor that would have given the Vikings first downs.

"We had some penalties in college, but we always seemed to get past them and score a lot of points," Jackson said. "It's a different game in the NFL. Every game is close. In every game, one or two plays can change the outcome of a game. We understand that on this level. We seen that (Thursday) night, a couple penalties that we had stopped us from getting first downs. A couple plays could have changed the outcome of the game."

The illegal shifts might have come from Jackson getting to the snap count before his teammates were set, but he hopes to close out the season on a winning note Sunday in the Metrodome against the St. Louis Rams.

For the next five days, Vikings fans will be left wondering if he is the answer as the quarterback next year. The evaluator that matters most in this instance, Childress, seems to believe it will come in time.

"I know the numbers are what they are, but he had as good an eye coming to the sideline as anyone on that offensive football team. He learned a heck of a lot. He's going to do better with his footwork, with his eyes, where he's focusing," Childress said. "I thought he made a couple of plays with his feet. I thought he put the ball in some good spots. You have to be able to command the football, and I thought by and large in a little bit tougher weather conditions, he did a good job with that. He can move some throws over. Move a throw over six inches and he probably prevents that interception that ended up happening, but that will come. That will come. For his first time out in that forum, he did all right with it."

NOTES

  • The New York Giants signed cornerback R.J. Cobbs to their practice squad. Cobbs was with the Vikings in the offseason.

  • The Atlanta Falcons signed center Jason Palermo to their practice squad. The former University of Wisconsin Badger was with the Vikings in the offseason.

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