Holding Pattern
Brooks Bollinger
Brooks Bollinger

Posted Mar 11, 2008


For right now, Brooks Bollinger is the only backup quarterback behind Tarvaris Jackson. While veterans like Trent Green, Mark Brunell and David Carr have been on the open market, the Vikings are repeating their mode from last year and heading into the draft with just T-Jack and B-2.

The role of the backup quarterback has always been an interesting one in the NFL. In many cases, the backup QB is the most popular man in town. If the starter struggles, the fans are cheering for the backup to take his place. If he does and he succeeds, he becomes the favorite son of the franchise. But being a backup QB in the NFL isn’t as cushy as it used to be.

Last year, 63 different quarterbacks started games in the NFL – an average of two per team in the league. The Vikings had three themselves – Tarvaris Jackson, Brooks Bollinger and Kelly Holcomb. Unfortunately for the Vikings, their backups were 0-4 in the games they were asked to start. The Vikings have made attempts this offseason to upgrade themselves at the position – word got out of the Texans camp that the Vikings offered a third-round draft pick in exchange for Sage Rosenfels, but were turned down.

The need for a successful QB has been at the heart of most franchises for the last several years as the NFL has transferred from a run-first game to a pass-first game. The quarterbacks that can dictate the pace and dominate the action have become the rage, but with quarterbacks throwing more, they’re also exposed to more hits while being in the pocket – therefore more injuries. The days of guys like Brett Favre are almost completely over. Sure, quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have made it through several seasons without being injured (at least to the extent of having to miss games), but few others can boast that. Having a solid backup is as important now as it has ever been.

For years, the Vikings were ahead of the curve in that regard. They had guys like Randall Cunningham and Jeff George as veteran backups in a time when older players who didn’t have starting jobs just retired. Now, guys like Vinny Testaverde that are closer to Social Security that they are to their draft day still find a way to get employed on an NFL roster.

Because of the injuries and the need for veteran backups, the Vikings wasted money on Koy Detmer, who pocketed about a hundred thousand dollars without even playing a down for the Vikings or even being on a gameday roster. The need is there. The market will bear it. The old guys are cashing in.

On Monday, Trent Green, who was prevented from playing last year due to concussions, signed a three-year, $8.9 million deal to back up Marc Bulger with the Rams. Mark Brunell is making the rounds looking for work. So is David Carr. What few quarterbacks were available in free agency have largely been scooped up.

As it stands, the Vikings only have two quarterbacks on the roster and there have been available QBs signing on with other teams. Unless the Vikings have a master plan like making a trade with the Buccaneers to get veteran Chris Simms, it would seem they’re missing the boat on getting backup help for Tarvaris Jackson. Bringing in a veteran doesn’t mean the team is giving up on T-Jack, it just gives the team more “position flexibility.” It’s one thing to say Jackson is the man and go forward from that point, but it’s another to not acquire a veteran that could take over the team if Jackson got hurt. If the numbers show anything, it’s that few teams get through an entire season with just one QB these days.



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