That is one of the reasons Childress opted to elevate Tarvaris Jackson to a starting role this year and allowed the much more seasoned Brad Johnson to depart for Dallas.
Jackson is coming off the most efficient — although limited — performance of his career, completing 10 of 12 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. His 139.2 passer rating was easily the best of his career.
"I think I'm getting better. I'm feeling more and more comfortable each week. I'm feeling really comfortable with my coordinators and the offense and the way things are going," Jackson said. "I think coach is getting more confidence in me and I feel like my teammates are getting more confidence in me. I'm taking care of the football and going out there and running the offense and making plays every down even when there might not be anything there."
The only other time Jackson had a passer rating above 100 was at Chicago on Dec. 3, 2006, when he registered a 101.0 mark on very limited action – completing 3 of 4 passes.
In fact, the two highest ratings when Jackson has attempted more than 10 passes in a game have come in the last two contests, both of them wins. He had a 79.9 rating against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 18.
"I think that's the way you want your quarterback to play in this offense. You want him to be efficient. You want him to be a high percentage, low turnovers. If you do that, you have a chance to win a lot of games," Childress said. "We still have a long way to go, but we've put a couple back to back."
With Jackson starting this year, the Vikings are 5-2. Without him, they are 0-4, but injuries had been prohibiting him from making consistent progress.
While the New York Giants were expected to provide him with one of his biggest tests of the season, one he passed with ease thanks to a three-touchdown performance from his defense, it was actually the Detroit Lions who seemed to confuse Jackson the most earlier this year.
In the Vikings' 20-17 overtime loss to the Lions on Sept. 16, Jackson threw four interceptions and left the game on the first drive of overtime with a groin injury. Shortly thereafter, Brooks Bollinger fumbled a snap that the Lions recovered and turned into the game-ending field goal.
But since that dismal 26.4 rating, Jackson has had only one game in which he registered a rating below 50 (against Dallas) and now has three performances with a 70 rating or better, including Sunday's career-best performance that started with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice on the second play of the game, a pass he might have overthrown earlier in the year.
"We just wanted to take a shot and give a guy a chance to make a play downfield," Jackson said. "We had good protection on the play and pretty much one-on-one outside. The offensive line did a great job of protecting and I gave Sidney a chance to make a play and he made a great play."
Childress probably isn't ready to put Jackson into the "great" category yet, but at least he is getting an opportunity to evaluate his chosen quarterback after a series of groin, finger and head injuries didn't allow Jackson to string together a series of starts and continue his progression.
"(I'm) just happy to see a level of consistency in his play, and he's doing a little something different every week, whether it's throwing the long ball or making a play with his feet," Childress said. "The thing that he has been consistent with the last two weeks is taking care of the football. You've got a chance to win a lot of games when you can do that."
Even one interception against the Oakland Raiders seemed too much for Jackson's comfort, but he went the entire Giants game without throwing one interception, despite facing the NFL's top sack-producing defense, and he has thrown only one interception in the last five games.
Childress was generally pleased with Jackson's passing during the game, but the quarterback's ability to run the ball made nearly as much of a difference.
He finished the game with five rushes, tying his season high, for 38 yards – a career high for him. There was one drive on Sunday where Jackson was especially impressive.
On the Vikings' first drive of the second half, he converted third-and-4 with a 19-yard scramble. After completing a pass to Bobby Wade to convert the next third down, Jackson took off for an 11-yard scramble after pulling away from a jersey-grabbing sack attempt by Michael Strahan. While Childress appreciates Jackson's ability to scramble and recognizes the benefits of a mobile quarterback, the coach still prefers his quarterback to be a passer first.
"I think that when you have that card, when you have that athleticism, generally it is kind of a fight or flight reaction," he said. "When guys first get to the league, if they have that ability to be able to pull it down and create, sometimes they will take their eyes prematurely off what's happening down the field and start to use their athleticism. So we want him to be a thrower first and a passer first. There are plenty of times that things are going to break down and he has to have that tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock thing going in his head. He is still getting that. I don't want him just pulling it down willy-nilly and taking off with it because he thinks he can out-juke everybody. He doesn't do that. He is really pretty good about that."