Jim Mora's most famous and replayed words – "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs?" – when he was coaching the Indianapolis Colts in 2001 might have been applicable to the Minnesota Vikings at the end of last year.
Four months after the Vikings were eliminated from the 2006 playoffs, Mora was busy analyzing the current situation in Minnesota as a commentator on NFL Network's "State of the Franchise" series.
Mora was part of the Colts' decision-making process when they decided to draft Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf as their quarterback of the future. While the debate seems like a no-brain decision now, at the time it was a hotly contested conundrum that Mora said was decided upon after numerous interviews with the players and the coaches and people surrounding them.
But during his analysis of the Vikings last week, Mora's comments often centered on the team's current quarterback situation. Second-year player Tarvaris Jackson is expected to battle it out with veteran Brooks Bollinger for the starting job in training camp, with Drew Henson hoping to continue on with the team as a developmental prospect.
Asked if second-year player Tarvaris Jackson had the goods to be a starting quarterback, Mora replied: "Brooks Bollinger doesn't and Drew Henson doesn't. Those two guys are backups at best in the National Football League. So Tarvaris better be the guy."
Safety Darren Sharper, who joined the show remotely from Miami, said Jackson "is our guy. He's the guy that's going to lead us this year. He's a young quarterback. You're going to have growing pains, but we saw him get some experience last year. He played well. He brought a type of energy to the game."
Mora's comments became even more pointed when host Rich Eisen asked if last year's quarterback struggles were due to the signal-callers or the wide receivers they were throwing to – specifically Billy McMullen, Bobby Wade and Troy Williamson.
"Who are these guys? They're average at best, nothing special. What they need is some big-play, big-time guys on offense," Mora responded before continuing with the team's needs. "They must stabilize the quarterback position. Is Tarvaris the guy? If he is, then we're going with him. He can help us win. If not, we better go and get somebody.
"They need people who can get the ball in the end zone."
Sharper was asked about the defense and said it was up to that side of the ball to play well enough to overcome some mistakes that a young quarterback will invariably make. Specifically, he said the defense needed to improve on its ranking of tying for 31st in the league against the pass.
"The fact that teams weren't running against us at all last year probably led to some of the yards that they accumulated against us in the air. But we do need to tighten some things on pass defense," Sharper said. "Getting another pass rusher would definitely help out, getting some pressure on the quarterback and not allowing him to sit back there and kind of find open targets to hit. We need to cover up our guys a little better."
While drafting another pass rusher might help the defense, Sharper acknowledged that the offense has needs too.
"One thing I definitely want to see us do … we'd like to have more game-breakers on offense. You want to score more points. But in saying that, you want to have the best player available," he said.
While "State of the Franchise" didn't tell hardcore Vikings fans much they didn't already know, it did provide some pointed and patented Mora comments, even if they weren't made with the same passion of his "Playoffs?" rant repeated so many times since they were uttered more than six years ago.
Mora Pointed with Vikings Comments
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