The Vikings have not officially said if they plan to stick with Tarvaris Jackson as their quarterback in 2008, but after they went through a season of ups-and-downs with the first-year starter, many think it would be wise for the franchise to try to reap the rewards of having given him that experience.
“You took a whole year with him and he got better,” veteran quarterback Kelly Holcomb said Wednesday after the Vikings completed their season-ending meetings. “That was really his first year starting. That’s the whole thing and misconception about this league. It used to be guys could come in and sit for three years and then they could learn.
“Nowadays there is so much impatience with this league that if a guy doesn’t do good right off the bat, everybody wants to just throw up their hands and say, ‘Hey, we’re done.’ Today is just like back in the old days. You’ve got to build a team. You’ve got to build continuity with each other. Guys are not going to be the best they are going to be when they first come out. They’ve got to play.”
That’s exactly what Jackson did this season, and the Vikings went 8-4 in his 12 starts. He missed three games because of injury and did not play once despite being healthy.
Despite his record, Jackson was far from flawless. He had 14 turnovers, including 12 interceptions, as opposed to nine touchdown passes. His 70.8 passer rating wasn’t impressive, but it improved to 82.9 over the final seven games as the Vikings went 5-2 in that stretch.
Jackson passed for 1,311 of his 1,911 yards on the season during the seven-game period that coach Brad Childress pointed to as being the time he really wanted to get a look at the young QB.
Jackson also showed mobility, rushing for 260 yards on 54 carries and three touchdowns. The rushing total put him third on the team behind running backs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.
There already has been talk around Minnesota that the Vikings could attempt to acquire Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb. Childress served as McNabb’s position coach and then offensive coordinator for seven years with the Eagles.
However, recent indications have been that McNabb will be staying in Philadelphia. Jackson, for one, didn’t seem to be worrying about his situation as he entered the offseason.
“I started the last game of the season, so I’m going to assume that,” he said of being the starter. “That’s all I can do. Whatever happens, I’ll take it in stride. I can’t predict the future about what they’re going to do.”
Of course, maybe Jackson does know the future.
There is a chance he already has been told that the Vikings plan to keep him as the starter but they just aren’t prepared to make that official at this point.
RB Adrian Peterson was selected the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press after finishing second in the league to San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson with 1,341 yards. He scored 12 touchdowns among his 238 carries. Peterson received 46.5 of 50 votes in balloting. Cleveland OT Joe Thomas was the only other player who received votes. Winning the award triggers a $250,000 bonus in Peterson’s contract.
Peterson is only the fifth Vikings player to earn this honor, joining wide receivers Paul Flatley (1963), Sammy White (1976) and Randy Moss (1998) and running back Chuck Foreman (1973).
CB Antoine Winfield, who spent most of last offseason working out on his own, said he plans to participate in the Vikings’ program this spring and summer. Winfield missed six games this season because of injury. While Winfield doesn’t blame his workout program for leading to his problems, he said he is superstitious about the situation.
K Ryan Longwell will continue an offseason workout program that included yoga, pilates and plyometrics and produced excellent results in 2007. Longwell, an 11-year veteran, added nearly 4 yards to his kickoff average and tripled his touchbacks, going from three to nine.
Coach Brad Childress was scheduled to give his season-ending news conference on Thursday morning at the Vikings’ Winter Park complex. Players met with the media on Wednesday after going through their final meetings.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I mean, we ended up being No. 1 (in the NFL) in rushing offense this year. We both got enough carries. I had enough carries to say so myself. I’m pretty sure we did a great job this year.” — Veteran RB Chester Taylor on sharing time with rookie Adrian Peterson.