Tarvaris Jackson is starting … for at least one more week.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Thursday that Jackson would be starting and Gus Frerotte would be the backup Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
"(Jackson has) brought us two victories in the last two games, so he's done what he's supposed to do," Bevell said, admitting that Frerotte's recovery from a lower-back injury has something to do with the decision.
Jackson was inserted into the Detroit game late in the first half and led the Vikings from a 6-3 deficit at the time to a 20-16 win on Dec. 7. Last Sunday in Arizona, Jackson continued to operate the offense efficiently, leading to a 35-14 win. Two opportunities, two road wins for Jackson, who started the season 0-2.
"We've went into these last two games with the game plan the exact same way, whether it was going to be Gus, whether it was going to be Tarvaris. I ask them opinions on plays … ‘Do you like this play? Is there anything you don't like?'" Bevell said.
With another solid game from his running backs in Arizona, Jackson was able to complete 11 of 17 passes for 163 yards, four touchdowns and a 135.5 passer rating.
"He's matured in the last six quarters that he's played, the game and a half. He's done a great job of just running our offense and executing it the way that we ask it to be done," Bevell said. "… There are some subtle plays that don't get talked about where you can actually see the maturity and the progression that he's made. There was one in the red zone where he actually checked the ball down to Chester Taylor – a great play by him."
Bevell said there was at least one other instance in Arizona where Jackson checked the ball down and generally made solid decisions that did "not put the ball in harm's way."
Jackson's ability to make plays down the field – he had two pass plays of 40 yards or longer that went for touchdowns – without the indecisiveness or interceptions that cost him his job after only two games into the season have people seeing a different demeanor from the third-year player.
Count Bevell among those observers that have seen a change.
"I have seen a difference in him. I've seen a difference in his demeanor. Probably the benching has been a great thing for him. .... I do feel in those first two games he might have had the weight of the world on him, all the expectations coming into the season and all the questions were, ‘How's Tarvaris going to play?'" Jackson said. "He might have put too much pressure on himself."
Jackson admitted that while the Vikings are gaining momentum, he still might have some proving to do in the eyes of the fans.
"I probably still don't have a full bandwagon," Jackson joked.
While Bevell wasn't about to crown Jackson the long-term starter, he admitted that the quarterback's performance of late – albeit a small sampling – will help him in the future.
"It's big for him, how it figures in for him down the road. He had an opportunity that was presented to him and he played well in the opportunity and he's showed progress," Bevell said. "As long as he continues to do that, that bodes well for him for his future."
Jackson named Sunday's starter
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