For his part, Jackson has tried to ignore the criticism but found it very difficult, if not impossible. In an exclusive interview with Viking Update Saturday, Jackson said he tries to blow off the discussion that he is the only missing ingredient between the Vikings and a run for the Super Bowl. As a fan of the NFL Network, Jackson said he's been watching some "old games" – like the Philadelphia playoff win over Green Bay in which Brad Childress and Darrell Bevel are jumping around on the Eagles sideline.
But even there, he runs into programming that, when the topic of the Vikings comes up, his name is dragged through the mud.
"I try not to pay any attention to it, but it's hard sometimes," Jackson said. "People are going to criticize you. I understand that. I try not to let it bother me. Those people don't know how much I've been working to get better. I think I'm a much better quarterback now than I was a year ago and they're going to see that when we get out on the field. I'm not going to be the weak part of this team."
Jackson said part of his maturation is going to be taking on a more vocal role as a team leader. He said last year that wasn't as easy, but this year is going to be different.
"You line up with Matt Birk, a Pro Bowler, Steve Hutchinson, a Pro Bowler, and Bryant McKinnie, a Pro Bowl alternate, in front of you," Jackson said. "What are you going to do? Tell them how to do their job? I didn't get too vocal last year, but I know that's part of being a leader. People are going to see a different player this year. I'm not going to be the weak link."