Tarvaris Jackson was one of the Vikings that didn't play a consistent game on Monday night, but head coach Brad Childress stuck with highlighting the positives.
Vikings coach Brad Childress expressed optimism about Tarvaris Jackson
's improvement several times during the offseason.
The only problem was Jackson did not show any real progress as the Vikings opened the season with a 24-19 loss to the Green Bay Packers
on Monday night at Lambeau Field.
While new Packers starter Aaron Rodgers
completed 18 of 22 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown, Jackson went 16 of 35 for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception that ended a Vikings drive late in the fourth quarter and assured the Packers of victory.
Rodgers, by the way, had a 115.5 passer rating compared to Jackson's subpar 59.0. Jackson's interception came on a badly overthrown pass for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe
The worst part of Jackson's performance came in the first half. During the first 30 minutes, he went 2 for 7 for 16 yards.
About the only thing that could be said in Jackson's defense was that he hadn't played in a game since the second exhibition game when he suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Still, that does not excuse a poor performance for a guy entering his second season as a starter and going against his arch-rival on a Monday night. Childress defended parts of Jackson's game.
"I thought he put the ball down the field very well," he said. "He had to move around a little bit, which is good that he can move around. When the defense turns it back on you, it's nice to have the ability to be able to run up the field. Now, do I like to see him absorb those hits? I don't. He's competing, he's learning how to get to the ground a little bit better, slide out of bounds a little bit better. He made some decent plays with his feet. Couple throws he'd like to have back, that two-point play in the back of the end zone was just like you draw it up and I know he wishes he had that back. And, obviously, that one at the end to Visanthe."
The interesting thing — and the thing no one knows at this point — is if Jackson could play himself out of a job in short order. The Vikings invested significant money in receiver Bernard Berrian
and defensive end Jared Allen
and it isn't because they are building for 2009.
It's because this organization wants to win now.
Childress has made it clear that to this point Jackson is his guy.
"I thought he did a good job of checking it down to his backs when he needed to. I thought he had an up the field mentality. I saw the one bad throw he had in to coverage there that hit (Brady) Poppinga. He must have been looking at another level," Childress said. "Obviously I wasn't wild about that. I thought he gave our guys a chance to make plays up the field and he gave us a chance all the way to the end."
But a few more performances like the one he had Monday and veteran Gus Frerotte
might find himself running the show in Minnesota.
DE Jared Allen had no tackles in his first game as a member of the Vikings on Monday after being acquired from Kansas City in the offseason. "This is one of the least productive games I've had in my life," said Allen, who had 15.5 sacks last season. "I'm not going to let that happen again. They did some things to take me out of my rhythm, but there's ways I'm going to make plays. I'm just going to work harder."
Brad Childress is now 0-3 in Lambeau Field since taking over as the Vikings coach in 2006. Asked about this, he said: "I don't think it's haunted here or anything like that. I think you have to play better, there's not much magic to that. You have to be more consistent in what you're doing and I think hats off to them, they did enough to win and we didn't do enough to win."
OL Artis Hicks started at left tackle Monday in place of Bryant McKinnie, who is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. However, Hicks was forced to leave in the third quarter after he suffered an injury to his left elbow. Marcus Johnson, who was the top backup at both tackle spots on Monday, replaced Hicks. If Hicks is forced to sit out because of the injury, that could open a spot on the 45-man game-day roster for rookie free-agent Drew Radovich. Radovich is listed as the backup left tackle behind Hicks but the rookie was inactive on Monday.
RB Maurice Hicks sat out Monday's game because of a sprained foot. Hicks was signed as a free agent during the offseason to serve as the Vikings' kick returner. Instead that job was handled by running back Chester Taylor and wide receiver Aundrae Allison.
RB Chester Taylor had five carries for 19 yards against the Packers. Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, carried 19 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. Taylor did get eight touches on offense, as he also caught three balls for 21 yards, but it appears his role is going to end up being somewhat limited.
QB Tarvaris Jackson wasn't kidding a few weeks back when he said he had no plans to slide despite having suffered a knee injury at the end of a run when he took on defenders. Jackson carried nine times for 65 yards against the Packers and more than once took on defensive players.
CB Marcus McCauley and FB Jeff Dugan, who both played in all 16 games last season, were inactive for the Green Bay game. McCauley has fallen behind Benny Sapp on the depth chart. Sapp was used in a dime defense the Vikings employed and on special teams. Fullback Naufahu Tahi has moved ahead of Dugan.
Allison and CB Charles Gordon both worked as punt returners in Monday's game. Allison returned three for 13 yards and Gordon had one for no yards.