Lurtsema's Reaction: Quarterback Confidence

Many of the pundits have weighed in with their analysis of the Vikings' quarterback situation, but former Viking Bob Lurtsema talks about specific struggles Tarvaris Jackson faced last year, what should help him out this year and Lurtsema's take on the backup situation.

VU: There has been talk about the Vikings possibly being interested in a veteran quarterback and Kelly Holcomb's name in Philadelphia has come up. Do you think they need a veteran or do you think Brooks Bollinger can be that veteran?

BL: Brooks Bollinger is strong enough to be a backup and he understands the game and everything. A lot of people are brilliant quarterbacks because of arm strength or size once they take the field. If Tarvaris Jackson is as good as Coach Childress says he is with the potential that he has, the thing that I would be most concerned about – I'm not as concerned about a backup coming in because what if he's disgruntled while Brooks is happy to compete for the job. They have a positive situation as far as how they are approaching it to see who will be the successful quarterback in the opener against Atlanta.

The thing that is a huge plus is that last year the Vikings were No. 1 in stopping the run. This year, they could potentially be No.1 offensively in the run. That's the key for a young quarterback. Once you establish that and you have somebody who was successful like Chester Taylor, who put up almost 1,600 yards rushing and receiving, you have Mewelde Moore – I'm a Mewelde Moore fan, so I think he should play more coming out of the backfield – but then you have the No. 1-rated running back in the NCAA, you have three backs that can terrorize anybody. Then you have the Pro Bowl linemen up the middle, especially with Matt Birk leading the way. You have a great situation for the quarterback as you groom him.

Remember that Peyton Manning in his first year, his average yard per attempt passing was only 6.5 – they were making him read the defenses and dink and dunk. Read it, understand it, break it down. I think the thing that happened last year when Tarvaris Jackson was in there, he even forgot the play a couple of times coming out of the huddle. He was trying to make sure everyone was lined up in the proper positions. Once he breaks it down and starts making it a little simpler, then he'll be able to concentrate and start reading the defenses. He admitted that he had that problem. It's interesting that there was so much going on – I'm talking mostly in the Green Bay game – there were so many things happening to this young kid that he got an overdose too fast.

They always say it takes three to five years to groom a quarterback. I don't want people throwing it my face and saying, ‘What about Troy Aikman?' There is always an exception to the rule.

The key for success is more importantly the running game than who is backing him up. I think Brooks Bollinger is more than adequate. His knowledge and breakdown, the way they communicated, I feel very comfortable with him.

VU: Jackson is the first Vikings quarterback to start games as a rookie since Tommy Kramer and then Fran Tarkenton before that. Do you remember what you saw from those guys, especially Kramer, as a rookie that you really saw them improve on in their second year?

BL: The thing with Tarkenton is that he had that God-given instinct on when to scramble. That bailed him out, and if fans remember, that instinct is what saved him and he stayed with it. Daunte Culpepper had great instincts and then all the sudden they tried to change him into a pocket quarterback and that threw Daunte's game off when he hesitated when he took off. That's actually what Jackson did – you could see him hesitate more and more instead of taking off with his instincts whenever they gave him that. Instead of getting out of there, his thought process wasn't fast enough. Not that he can't pick it up at that speed, but being inexperienced, that took away from his strength. With Kramer, Kramer could read right out of the shoot. He was not afraid to throw that ball. He didn't care where it was. He had the attitude of, You picked me off – so what? You knocked me down – so what? He just had an arrogance about him that he wasn't affected so much by outside sources. In other words, the media can come down and some players can't handle it. If you can't handle it, then you're in the wrong position and you shouldn't be in the league. That was Kramer's strength and he could handle that. And he loved being an underdog and he loved the competition.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.


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