Brother Steve has long criticized my penchant for taking to certain lesser known players coming into the league (DeMond Parker, Torrance Marshall, Vernand Morency). Much of this is due to me watching preseason games and drawing ridiculous conclusions from very few plays. I’ll admit, I’ve been wrong probably more than right – but I have been right on a few occasions too (James Jones, Donald Driver, Edgar Bennett).
There is one player, a non-Packer, I had taken a liking to last year when his team lost to the Packers and he was ripped for his performance: Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson had 44 yards passing in that ugly 9-7 Packers win. I remember reading articles in jsonline.com and startribune.com about how bad Jackson was in that game, but I disagreed. The Vikings had (and still have) one of the weakest receiving groups in the NFL and an underdeveloped running game. The guy had nobody to throw to. When he did throw, he easily lofted a sweet 70 yard bomb that beat Packer defenders but hit Troy Williamson in the head, because Williamson is horrible. He didn’t turn the ball over against a tenacious defense in crappy conditions knowing when to tuck and go down for the sack vs trying too hard to make something happen (especially in a close game). He knew he was just on a team with a horrendous offense. These were all parts of his game that struck me as unusually mature for a first year quarterback.
Now, I can already read Steve’s response – he’ll say he could play quarterback with Peterson and Chester Taylor as the RBs. There is truth to that and it would be foolish to not acknowledge the dramatic effect Peterson/Taylor have on any game. But I’ve watched the Vikings the last few weeks and have noticed how good Jackson looks when it is his play. The guy is very strong, fast, elusive, has a gun for an arm and now that he knows the system better – he is scary. I do have some support for this opinion out there (though I’m typically not a big fan of this guy’s opinion, it’s fine when he supports mine). Now, Tarvaris may not have the best stats overall for this year, but his past few games have been solid (over 100 ratings) and I believe, more representative of the true talent he has.
I write this as a warning to Packer fans. Even though I said it last year and have been ripped on now for a year, his stats are starting to show, I may be right on this one. Couple his arrival with Peterson and the Vikings could become really, really good.