Unraveling the quarterback conundrum

The Vikings have a tough decision ahead at quarterback. Jackson or Rosenfels? Rosenfels or Webb? We wade through the stats and quotes to get an idea of what's likely to happen.

If preseason passer ratings mean anything at the quarterback position, Sage Rosenfels is the Vikings starter. If popularity ratings mean anything, Rosenfels will beat out Tarvaris Jackson for the backup job behind Brett Favre. And if approval ratings mean anything, Brad Childress will find a way to keep Joe Webb.

But the only thing that matters to the players' future is what the Vikings coach thinks.

As Saturday's 5 p.m. Central deadline for cutting the roster down to 53 players approaches, the Vikings have a big decision to make at quarterback. Do they keep all four quarterbacks, do they find a trading partner for one of their two veteran backups or will they have to release Rosenfels or Jackson so they can keep exciting but raw rookie Joe Webb?

Those are the questions that will be answered in the next 30 hours after the Vikings wrapped up the preseason with their 31-24 win over Denver Broncos. There is one certainty – Brett Favre is the starter. And one probability – Joe Webb is the developmental guy.

"I'm pretty sure they know what I can do. I'll leave (roster decisions) up to the coaches," Webb said. "They have a lot of big decisions to make. So like I said, it's all in their hands and I did everything that I could, and I played to the best of my ability, so just take it from there."

Webb is raw for sure, but he finished the preseason with the Vikings' second-highest passer rating, a respectable 95.3. Part of the reason Webb did so well was his ability to escape the pass rush and use his ability to run. That led to him being the team's leading rushing with 11 carries for 126 yards (11.5 average) and the team's longest run of the preseason, a 48-yard touchdown.

Webb has quickly generated the approval of the fans for his exciting brand of football, the anticipation that on any play he could display his big arm or his quick legs. He heard the cheers when he entered the game Thursday night after two uninspiring performances from Jackson and then Rosenfels.

"It makes me feel good. Especially as a rookie in my position of being the fourth-string quarterback," Webb said. "I just want to bring excitement to the game. That's what a lot of these fans pay for and that's what they want to see. At the same time, I want to play ball and bring excitement to the game and enjoy it.

The biggest decision for the Vikings will likely come down to Rosenfels and Jackson. Childress has clearly thrown his support behind Jackson, a decision that doesn't earn the applause of many fans if Thursday's crowd was representative of the larger Vikings contingent of followers.

Earlier in the week, Childress said it would be hard for Rosenfels to do anything in the fourth preseason game to supplant Jackson as the No. 2 quarterback. After the game, Childress continued to support Jackson over Rosenfels.

"Sage Rosenfels was fortunate to have some different opportunities that Tarvaris didn't have in the first three games," Childress said. "I've seen a lot of (Jackson) throughout training camp to kind of know where he's at."

Where he was at in games wasn't promising, but both he and Childress pointed to the lack of opportunities for Jackson this preseason. Jackson threw even fewer passes than Favre, going 12-for-26 for 60 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions and a 53.0 rating.

Even Jackson wasn't sure he had done enough to warrant the No. 2 job.

"It's hard to say. I really didn't get a lot of reps this preseason. I feel like after doing camp, I feel like I am," he said. "You want to play well in the games. I had limited opportunities in the games and the situation this offseason about Brett Favre coming back. I feel like I have."

Rosenfels didn't have an inspiring night either. Like Jackson, he completed just 25 percent of his passes and, like Jackson, finished with a paltry 39.6 rating against the Broncos. But Rosenfels still led the team in the preseason.

"There were some things I wish I could have done a little better. Overall in the four preseason games, I think my body of work speaks for itself," Rosenfels said. "There's always room for improvement. I think I have made it known that I would like to be here. I'm not the decision-maker and I'm going to go with what happens."

For now, it looks like the decision-maker might squeeze out Rosenfels. Childress said after the game that Jackson was still the backup to Favre "as it stands right now" and he said that Webb is going to be a good player.

Childress once again indicated that keeping four quarterbacks isn't an ideal option, which leaves both Webb and Rosenfels wondering about their futures.

"It's tough. A lot of guys lose sleep at night," Webb said.

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

Viking Update Top Stories