Jury Out on T-Jack?

A year ago, Brad Childress was steadfast that Tarvaris Jackson would be his QB in 2007. A couple of weeks ago, T-Jack's long-term future seemed locked in place. But, two awful passing days later, Chilly isn't saying whether or not Jackson is the short-term or long-term answer for the Vikings in 2008 and beyond.

The future of Tarvaris Jackson as the Vikings' starting quarterback seemed like a moot point at midseason – it just wasn't going to happen. Some national reports had secret team insiders saying that effectively they were done with him after this season and he would be a backup in 2008.

But, as Jackson led the Vikings on a five-game winning streak that ended Sunday night, he was doing everything asked of a quarterback. He wasn't lighting opposing defenses up, but he was holding his own, completing all the passes he needed to and playing heady football.

Over the past two games, however, he has regressed to the same T-Jack that had fans so worried earlier in the season and throwing up their hands in disgust. While the Vikings were able to overcome a giveaway/takeaway deficit of minus-4 against the Bears (the Vikings got an interception in the final minute to make it minus-3), they weren't able to overcome the same problems Sunday against the Redskins. Sadly, two of those turnovers came on horrible passes thrown by Jackson that had almost no chance to be caught by anyone but Redskins defenders.

At the end of last season, head coach Brad Childress was adamant that the Vikings weren't going to get involved in bidding wars for free agent quarterbacks, going as far as to bad-mouth potential available QBs like David Carr. He said the Vikings were set at quarterback with Jackson, Brooks Bollinger and potentially a project QB in the draft. He was true to his word and the Vikings made no public effort to get a quarterback other than to give up a late-round pick in next April's draft to get veteran Kelly Holcomb at the end of the preseason.

Does he feel as strongly now? Apparently not. At his Monday press conference, Childress was asked about Jackson's job security. He has maintained that, once the season is over, he would go over the "body of work" Jackson had put forth and make determinations on the future of the position based on that. With the Vikings stranglehold on the playoffs now reliant on another team following Sunday's loss to the Redskins, Childress refused to commit to Jackson as the sure-fire starter for next season.

"His record as a starter speaks for itself," Childress said of Jackson's 8-3 mark. "I'd like (Jackson) to do a little bit better job with the ball security – and that ends up being the premium. By and large he's been decent decision-making. I always want to use make the routine plays routinely. (Against the Redskins), I thought we left a couple of throws on the field."

"I'd just like to do a better job of securing the football and some of that is on him and some of that is on other people."

While Jackson has had his share of detractors, it appeared until a couple of weeks ago that he had the starting job locked up and, at best, the Vikings might look for a veteran backup that was fully aware that he would be starting only if T-Jack was injured. Now it looks as though the decision process will be a little more difficult and that when the body of work is examined, if a veteran QB that yearns to be a starter comes available, the Vikings will have to give a long, hard look as to whether that direction could be in the best short-term interest of the franchise.

* It would seem that teams have figured out how to combat the Vikings' run game – put eight or nine players in the box every play. The 49ers, Bears and Redskins have all done it and the results have been rather startling. After the combination of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor averaged 151 yards a game through the first 12 games, in the last three that total has dropped to 85 yards. Peterson's per-carry average has dropped from 6.1 yards a carry to 5.7 and the Vikings look much more vulnerable on offense. Unless the passing game can improve, it could be an exposure that every team the Vikings face will try to use to their advantage.
* In a radio interview Monday on KFAN, Antoine Winfield said he expects to play Sunday against the Broncos.
* Vinny Ciurciu injured his ankle against the Redskins Sunday night and is expected to get a MRI Wednesday when players return to practice.
* Early indications are that, barring a setback, Sidney Rice should be ready to go next week.
* The twist of irony coming out of Sunday's loss is that Vikings fans are likely going to be pulling hard for Brad Johnson Sunday. The Cowboys have locked down the No. 1 seed in the postseason and, as is typically the case, key starters aren't put at risk in such situations. That would mean that Tony Romo might be used as he would in a preseason game, maybe playing a half or as little as one or two series. If that's the case, Johnson would be the next line of offense for the Cowboys, who need to beat the Redskins for the Vikings to have a chance at making the postseason.
* The Vikings won't know before their game starts if they're still alive for the playoffs. The Cowboys-Redskins game was initially scheduled to start at noon start local time, while the Vikings and Broncos don't play until shortly after 3 p.m. local time. But, as part of the flexivble scheduling done late in the season, the Redskins game was pushed back to 3:15 p.m. Central Time – the same time as the Vikings game.
* Former Viking defensive tackle Ross Kolodziej was placed in injured reserve by the Cardinals Monday with a calf injury.
* In a strange twist on an old story, while teams that have wrapped up their playoff positioning tend to rest starters, you may see a vastly different approach Saturday. The Patriots are one win away from the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history and Dr. Hoodie likely isn't going to call off the dogs in search of perfection. But what about the Giants? With the Vikings' loss, the Giants have locked down the No. 5 seed in the NFC and have nothing to gain by winning or losing Saturday against the Pats. Of all things, it might be the Giants who bench their starters, not the Pats.

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