Jackson Gives Honest Self-Assessment

Tarvaris Jackson was busy rating his performance the day after the Vikings beat the Bears, and the second-year quarterback was honest in critiquing his work. See what he did well, where he really needs to improve and what he had to say on those subjects.

Tarvaris Jackson knows how it works now. Enter the NFL locker room during a media-access period as the starting quarterback and he is likely to be surrounded by cameras, microphones and audio recorders.

It happened again Monday. This time, the Vikings were coming off a win in which a strong running game – to the tune of 311 yards on the ground – was the quarterback's best friend. The win kept Jackson's song on Monday an optimistic one. It also kept him on track for what has become routine for him – an honest self-assessment.

He seems unafraid to enter the media fray, just as he doesn't shy away from an honest self-assessment. While sports media far and wide were praising rookie Adrian Peterson's 224-yard rushing effort from Sunday, Jackson was asked how long it would be before he thought that same media would be calling him and Peterson the best young quarterback-running back tandem in the game.

"I've got a long way to go. I've got to improve a lot. I see good things on film, but at the same time there are plays out there that I know I can make that I'm still leaving on the field," Jackson said.

His 9-for-23 passing performance would back that review. But he did at least one thing that head coach Brad Childress appreciates in his quarterbacks. Jackson didn't throw an interception. After lofting four passes into enemy hands in his previous start on Sept. 16 in Detroit, a groin injury left Jackson sidelined and with plenty of time to reflect on that performance – one that led to a dismal 26.4 passer rating.

As expected, there were other good things Jackson did on Sunday, leading to an improved 73.8 rating, and there were some bad things as well.

The accuracy of his passes were inconsistent. On one third-down play, he saw a wide-open Tony Richardson, who had linebacker Brian Urlacher faked and then beat. If the relatively easy pass was completed, it would have been a big gain, maybe a touchdown, but Childress said he believes Jackson hurried the throw and therefore the ball sail high out of Richardson's reach.

"I thought we had kind of a big play to beat Urlacher. That hurts you. You just have to make those plays. The accuracy thing, when those plays are available, you have to be able to knock those babies out," Childress said. "I thought he was into it mentally. He knew exactly what was happening, and he could talk to you about it very clearly. As he goes, I think he will be able to get the ball out of his hand a little bit quicker."

In the Windy City, which turned into the Drizzly City on Sunday, Jackson completed only 39 percent of his passes. For the season, he's only completing 49.4 percent. By that statistic, he is ranked – are you ready for this? – 53rd among quarterbacks in the league.

"You want to get it up, but we won the football game," he said. "It wasn't that high, but we won the football game, but obviously we've got to get more completions and I want to get that percentage up."

Jackson said ideally his completion percentage should be somewhere in the 60s. His receivers didn't help his cause there, either. He had several catchable throws that were dropped, including two slants to the normally sure-handed Sidney Rice.

But Childress was pleased with Jackson's ability to read the defenses Chicago presented to him and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, a pleasant surprise for a quarterback making only his fifth NFL start.

"I think he was 14 of 15 in terms of managing the run game and putting it the way we wanted it to go, which is no small feat with them moving in and out," Childress said.

Jackson said he can switch running plays to different running plays, but "if it's a run, it's probably going to stay a run."

"I'm pretty sure Peyton Manning didn't do a lot of checking his first two years, but he's been in the same offense for a bunch of years and playing with the same guys," Jackson said.

He does have a point. The entire team has only been running Childress' offensive schemes for 21 regular-season game, five with Jackson at the helm, and the top four pass receivers this year were all elsewhere in 2006.

But all of that isn't an excuse that Jackson brings up. He's just continuing to try and do enough for his team to find a winning groove – or least not mess up the good things that Peterson is bringing to the team.

"You don't want to be that guy that is holding the team back right now," Jackson said. "Right now, our offense had a pretty good day (Sunday) rushing the football, so we just want to keep that going."

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