Sunday slant: T-Jack learning from Favre

Tarvaris Jackson wasn't happy about sitting when the Vikings finally were able to get Brett Favre in purple, but now that he's had some time to adjust, the fourth-year quarterback is learning some tricks of the trade from the wily veteran. See what Jackson and others said about that, as well as finding out what the Vikings want to improve and a running back that made a quick impression.

Sidney Rice came down with a leaping touchdown catch in the end zone and limped his way to the bench. Adrian Peterson tried to get to the end zone and took a hit along the sidelines before limping his way across the field and to the bench.

Both of the Vikings' young and talented offensive stars returned to the game shortly after heading off the field. And that was during a blowout of the Seattle Seahawks. The only starter pulled relatively early in an easy win against Seattle was quarterback Brett Favre, who had a career-best 88 completion percentage and four touchdowns before giving way to Tarvaris Jackson late in the third quarter.

But the Vikings weren't about to pull back, even if Favre wasn't on the field. Coach Brad Childress wanted to see what Jackson, his former starter, could accomplish.

"We talked about him going in there. And I told him when he was going to go in there, I said we are not pulling back, this is not pabulum," Childress said. "We are going to call it just as wide open as we do. We are not going to sit on the lead, just expect you to orchestrate it. I didn't have too many doubts that he would be able to do that. He did a nice job with it."

Jackson finished the game completing six of eight passes for 77 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown to Rice, who has proven to be Favre's favorite target. Turns out, Favre's best rating as a Viking (141.7) was trumped by Jackson's best game (144.3), albeit in limited action.

Jackson was making a concerted effort to put his work on film and show people what he has learned watching Favre this year.

"Any time you can get out there and play it helps in different situations. Different defenses, whenever you get a chance to see them you can put it in your memory bank," Jackson said.

"I've seen a couple different things than I saw last year at the time I got benched. I've watch a Pro Bowl (player), MVP candidate, candidate for the Hall of Fame practice every day – day in and day out. So I feel like I've gotten better in these 10 weeks and I (haven't) even played."

The sample size is small, but Jackson said this is the best he's ever been.

He is learning to take better care of the football and work on his accuracy, and he's trying to find a balance between taking advantage of opportunities and not forcing the issue. Some of that is trusting his receivers more, another thing he learned from Favre.

"He still makes plays where, I don't want to say he's forcing it in there, but he still gives receivers a chance and they're making plays," Jackson said. "Whenever you've got receivers like that that you can count on and you can just throw the ball up sometimes and they make plays like that, it helps. You trust them that if it's not a great ball they're going to catch it or nobody is going to catch it."

Jackson is learning patience in the pocket and how to use his eyes to direct the defense to a decoy. In fact, from the moment Favre arrived, it appeared that both Jackson and Sage Rosenfels began picking up on the art of looking off a defender in practice.

"He ain't just looking guys off. It's little things he does. He might be throwing to one guy, but he's looking at a different guy and you don't really think he's throwing to that guy. He'll trick me sometimes. He'll look here and (throw) a no-look. It works. He's good at it," Jackson said.

Of course, there are some things only Favre can do, but Jackson will have to find that balance between mimicking Favre's talents and playing with the different talents he was given.

Childress admitted that Rosenfels and Jackson probably both had some resentment about Favre being brought in and having to take a back seat. But now, the coach says, the quarterbacks' meeting room is a place where information – and jokes – are shared.

The Hall of Famer and the two understudies are getting along, and Favre sees a future for Jackson in Minnesota.

"The one thing that I'm really impressed with, and that is from Day One, is how smart he is just talking the game of football. I ask Tarvaris a lot of questions on the sideline during the course of the week, and really have picked his brain just on our guys," Favre said. "Who does what better and this and that. He's really sharp. He's got thick skin. You have to have that. No one was more happy for him than I was. He's been a lot of fun to work with. I know it was a tough situation for him the first day they even mentioned my name here. I understand that. Our relationship has been great. His work ethic and his preparation, I don't know what it was like last year, but I think it's been pretty darn good, considering he's not going out and playing every week. So the way he's handled himself with the media and the fans, and his teammates love him. So I see no reason why he doesn't have a career that resembles what he did here (last Sunday)."

So far, it's working. It's been limited exposure, but Favre's league-leading 112.1 passer rating isn't the best on the team. While Jackson doesn't have enough passes to qualify in the league's rankings, he has a 124.0 rating and is putting to use the tips he has learned over the last three months.

"It's rare that you have the luxury to be able to (play the backup that long), but I don't think you can discount it as when you get later and as we go later into the season," Childress said.


With so many positives coming out of the Vikings' last win, Childress hit on the main thing the team can improve – limiting negative run. The Vikings are tied for second-worst in the league with 25 percent of their rushing plays going for zero or negative yards, according to a stat Football Outsiders classifies as "stuffed."

The Vikings had four of those runs in the first half against Seattle, and they had another seven rushes in the first half that went for only one or two yards.

"A lot of them were similar type of scheme runs. Once again, some of it could have been (Adrian Peterson). Some of it was the offensive line. Some of it was an exceptional play on the defensive side," Childress said. "I just know this: You want to stay away from those lost-yardage plays, particularly on those early downs because that sets the tempo where you finish the series and typically how you are doing on third downs. Plus plays, any kind of plus play, plus-one or plus-two as opposed to minus-one or minus-two."

The Vikings also remain fourth in the league in runs of 10 yards or more, continuing to prove Peterson's self-described style of "famine, famine, feast."


One player that found an explosive run on the first carry of his career was a running back that the Vikings had in camp but didn't get much of a chance to really evaluate. Kahlil Bell joined the Vikings as an undrafted rookie, but because he was on a quarter system instead of semesters at UCLA he wasn't able to join the Vikings for much of their offseason practices. UCLA had school into June. Then Bell couldn't practice much in training camp because of an ankle injury.

"You don't have a mind's eye picture of him and then he came to training camp and he was in good shape, ran decently and then got the high ankle sprain. It's the old, you can't make the club in the tub, out of sight out of mind," Childress said. "We had to keep moving. You would love to hold onto guys and evaluate them later. I can't say anything poorly about him. He did a good job while he was here."

Why is Bell's name coming up now? Well, he is now with the Chicago Bears and could end up seeing some playing time against the Vikings because of Chicago's thin backfield.

In Bell's first NFL carry for the Bears 10 days ago, he ran 72 yards. It was the longest run on a player's first NFL carry since Alan "The Horse" Ameche went 79 yards for a score for the Colts against the Bears to key a 23-17 victory in 1955, according to the Elias Sport Bureau.

Bell's run was also the longest run from scrimmage in Chicago's last 9.004 rushing plays, dating back to Neal Anderson's 73-yard run against the Packers on Dec. 17, 1989.

"We knew that he was productive when he was in college. We knew that he had an injury that knocked him behind some of the better backs in the league coming out in the draft," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "No more than that. After he came here, of course we took note quickly. He runs with power, smart player with good moves, confident football player that can do a lot of things."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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