Lurtsema's Reaction: Jackson, A.D. & the 'D'

Have Tarvaris Jackson's last two performances won the confidence of former Viking Bob Lurtsema? The former defensive lineman also has a strong opinion for those concerned about putting Adrian Peterson back in the lineup this weekend, and finally he gushes over the defensive aggressiveness recently displayed. The Viking alumnus speculates, praises and vents.

VU: Where do you see Tarvaris Jackson's progression as a starter? Do you see him as a quarterback who they might be able to go forward with as a starter?

BL: It takes three to five years and we've all heard that cliché as far as quarterbacks go. You don't want to really rush them, especially in their first year. He's into his second year and the part that I'm still looking for – he has a lot to prove to me. I don't see any strong points in his game itself. Does he have a great touch? He scrambled a little bit last week. There is always an exception – this game he did this and this game he did that. Put them all together consistently and then maybe you've got yourself going from a project to an actual true professional quarterback. He's got to win me over yet, he truly does. Nice kid, people like him, but he's definitely not there yet.

VU: What does he need to do to win you over?

BL: He's got to get a better awareness of the pocket, number one, and then he's got to start throwing that ball before they break on their routes and everything, as far as anticipating where the receivers are going to go. When you dump just those short passes all the time, that's not that big of a deal. You should be able to accomplish that. But when he starts throwing into a crowd and starts letting the ball go before that receiver actually has made a break or two, then I'll start buying into him. He's young, and I hate to rip on somebody that's young starting at that position, but everybody grows at a different pace and there are so few good quarterbacks out there right now.

VU: If the season doesn't finish out for him the way you think it should, have you watched enough of Derek Anderson in Cleveland to say that you'd rather have him over Donovan McNabb?

BL: I would jump all over Derek Anderson. I've seen enough of him – I try to catch as many Cleveland games as I can – I like his touch, his feel, his awareness. I would give up a first and a third (round draft picks) in the blink of an eye to get him and bring his experience here because the defense is playing awesome. The defensive coaches, I can't say enough good things about Leslie Frazier and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. When you're long in the tooth like some of those players, you want to get it done now and Anderson can step in and do it now. I know Tarvaris is a good year or two away. With Adrian Peterson as your running back, my gosh, let's do it now because the life expectancy of a running back is only 2.7 years. It's under three years, and I'm not wishing that on him. I'm wishing him a 15-year career. But you've got to look at reality and say this is what we've got. What have I always said about a No. 1 draft choice – one-third make it, a third are total busts and a third are just so-so. So, what are you going to do – draft a high quarterback and train him for three to five years? No. I wouldn't touch Donovan McNabb. I would be all over Anderson, and if I had to pay too much, then so be it. Bringing him in there is going to sell tickets and it's going to bring the enthusiasm back to the Vikings. More importantly, there is no reason they shouldn't contend big-time for the Super Bowl.

VU: What is it about McNabb that makes you say you wouldn't touch him – the injury history?

BL: Well, the injury part of it, but you watch his percentage of completions and what he does, he'll scramble and that's his strength getting out of there and everything, but I don't see him reading that well. Brad Childress should know about how fast he reads, but I don't think he's the total package in being able to do something even close to the way (Tom) Brady or Manning reads – and that's not Eli.

VU: How likely do you think it is that Adrian Peterson will return this weekend? And just give your thoughts about the overall philosophy of playing him coming off the injury.

BL: He's 100 percent going to play this week, and fans have got to realize that each individual athlete heals differently than the average, every-day person. Jim Marshall, with all those games and setting the record, I always tell people you could cut his artery, 10 seconds later there would be a scab and two seconds later you could peel the scab off. He's a freak in society, but freak is a positive word. With Peterson, the way he's built and to see him in the locker room and the strength of his body – especially his upper torso – those are just things I haven't seen. He's different than any other running back. He's a combination of a Barry Sanders or a Herschel Walker. Even an Earl Campbell. He has it all. He's a combination of the greatest backs all in one package. That 296 yards was not lucky. The other 200-yard game that he rushed for was not lucky. I wish they would have played him more from Day One because I think they would have had two or three more wins. Fans, don't get concerned because most fans wouldn't play if they had a hangnail. They don't understand how you do the process of the high school, grade school, Pop Warner, college – the strong survive and the our healing process is a lot quicker. That's what makes us the exception to the rule. The media try to control everything and sometimes they don't listen to the other players. They don't want to listen to us. It ain't a big deal. You can play with a shoulder; that's the way you're bred. You're like a good race horse. They're bred to run and we're bred to play. That's why I missed two days in 12 years – it doesn't hurt to be dumb.

VU: What the defense did to the Giants – four interceptions, three for returns – was that more on Eli Manning not playing well and reading the routes or was that more on the Vikings defense playing well?

BL: That was more on the defense. That's why I'm in love with Frazier. The schemes that they put in there, they gave him a lot of different looks that Eli has never seen before, never seen on film. Eli has always been kind of a roller-coaster quarterback. He hasn't won me over yet. He's a good quarterback, but he's a far cry from his brother. But, no, give the defense, the linebackers and some of the blitzing schemes, give them all the credit in the world. With those different looks, they got frustrated, and with that frustration, he wasn't able to read the hot routes fast enough. I think the looks that the Vikings gave him, he didn't understand them or the receivers didn't understand because they were running the wrong routes. I don't know who was right or wrong on that because you can't really tell from watching the game. But that all goes back to Frazier. Great job by Frazier.

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 for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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