With as much as he’s done to improve the Minnesota Vikings over his tenure as head coach, you’d think I’d be a big fan of Coach Brad Childress. I try to be. The Vikings record has steadily improved each year he’s been head coach and they’ve been the NFC North champions for the last two years. And yet, I still can’t quite give myself over to becoming a Brad Childress super fan.
The problem, for me, is that I’m beginning to suspect he’s a member of the Borg.
In Star Trek the Borg run around sporting mechanical implants and spouting, “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” This comparison comes to mind because that is how I feel when Childress talks about Tavaris Jackson.
Whenever asked about the quarterback situation and the depth chart at that position Childress firmly tells us that he’s seen “an evolution” in Tavaris Jackson during training camp. I keep waiting for this much touted evolution to make itself visible on the field during a game. So Jackson looks basically the way he’s always looked to me—good arm, good athleticism, sketchy leadership, nervous under pressure. I’m not quite sure where the evolution is.
But despite the fact that I have yet to see the promised evolution, Childress says it so much, that I am beginning to feel that resistance really is futile. No matter what I see in his performance, Tavaris Jackson is still going to be the apple of Childress’ eye—I will eventually be assimilated. Maybe I’m just one game away from saying, “We are 3 of 4. Tavaris Jackson has evolved as a starting quarterback. He’s taking steps within the system. You will be assimilated.”
I’m just not there yet.
So far this preseason, Sage Rosenfels performance at quarterback has yielded better results than Jackson’s. After some rough and disorganized play from the Vikings offense during the St. Louis game, Rosenfels rallied his troops and led them down the field for not one, not two, but three touchdowns. Three.
Granted, that comparison is slanted because, as the presumed starter for the 2010 season Tavaris Jackson played very little. He also played relatively little in the games against the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. While neither Jackson nor Rosenfels scored a touchdown in the game against San Francisco, Rosenfels did connect with Javon Walker for a touchdown in the Seattle game.
While the comparisons are slanted toward Rosenfels because Rosenfels took more snaps and thus had more opportunities to make plays, he still looked better at quarterback to me than Jackson. But, as Childress pointed out to me via the reporters for the Pioneer Press, I’m using the wrong criteria to evaluate the quarterbacks.
That’s right, I had things all ass-backwards. How a quarterback plays in an actual game (even a preseason one) isn’t how Childress and his staff are evaluating the quarterbacks for the depth chart. In the article “Odd Man Out?” by Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press Childress said,
“You can say, ‘Well, it’s about the games,’” Childress said. “We give them opportunities based on what we see in practice.”
While I can see awarding opportunities based on how a player performs in practice, what a player actually does with those opportunities during a game seems, to me, like it ought to be the clincher. But that’s just me thinking winning games is more important than being brilliant on the practice field.
However, no matter how freaking fantastic Tavaris Jackson might have been in training camp, it still wasn’t good enough to prevent Childress from sending Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, and Jared Allen off to Mississippi to lean on (and, I suspect trank) Brett Favre, load him into the private jet, and get him to return to the Vikings for another season. Apparently, even Borg assimilation has it’s limits.