Friday, August 01, 2008

Let's take some weight off Jackson's shoulders.

(ed note: I know this blog is often difficult to gauge the level of sarcasm and realness. My most recent post was clearly tongue in cheek, while the post you are about to read is meant to be serious)

The national consensus is that the Vikings will only be as good as their marginally mediocre quarterback will take them. While there is clearly some truth to this theory I don't think the equation is as simple as if Jackson has a good year we are going to the Super Bowl. There are so many other questions that this team has to answer. The did a phenomenal job in the offseason trying to answer these questions but they will remain questions until they are actually answered.

I am looking forward to this season as much as anyone, but there was more to an 8-8 season than just Tarvaris Jackson.

First of all it should be noted that Jackson was 8-2 as a starter in 2007. He was not very good last year finishing right behind Cleo Lemon in QB Rating and had a higher interception % than Rex Grossman. His numbers were bad yet he was 8-2 as a starter. An .800 win% is clearly misleading but on the surface it does give the impression that he can be average and we can still win.

Jackson improving dramatically and becoming the leader in the huddle is important but I'm here to argue it is not the only question this team still has to answer before we can book our rooms in Tampa.

1. We are the reigning NFL's worst pass defense (2 years running). Are we going to be able to stop the pass?

We added arguably the league's best pass rusher to speed up the decision making of opposing quarterbacks (too bad we can't play Eli every week). We also added a safety known for coverage skills. But is this enough? Four of our first six games are against teams who pass the ball well.

  • @ Green Bay - 2nd in NFL in passing (although Favre leaving may help)
  • Indianapolis - 6th in NFL
  • @ New Orleans - 3rd in NFL
  • Detroit - 9th in NFL
If these games turn into shootouts our passing game won't be able to keep up no matter how well Jackson plays. And all signs point to Dallas being the NFC team to beat, if we can't slow down the Romo/Owens train we don't stand a chance.

2. Our offensive line has little depth, especially if McKinnie is suspended. Is our offensive line good enough?

Is anyone convinced that Ryan Cook and Anthony Herrera are good enough to hold down the right side of the line? Hutchinson is great and I believe that Birk will regain his Pro Bowl form. Herrera is getting some hype locally as a more than adequate RG, but our tackle situation concerns me. Cook has yet to show he is a capable RT and McKinnie is his own mountain of question marks. IF he is suspended then we get to see Chase Johnson move from backup LT to starting (props to anyone who can tell me anything about Johnson off the top of their head).

Even if McKinnie is allowed to play 16 games, for my money he is one of the most overrated LT in the game. I was not shocked to hear that Jared Allen was able to speed rush McKinnie and get around the corner with some ease. With no depth and no experienced RT, is anyone else concerned about the offensive line? It is good but there are some concerns and unanswered questions.

3. Even if Jackson makes better decisions and develops as we hope he will, do we have the receivers for our passing game to be a threat?

Bernard Berrian was added in the offseason and it was a good move by the organization to get the best available receiver to strengthen a weakness. But we still don't have an established #1 WR and we don't even have a proven "good" #2. We are excited about Rice's potential and Berrian has speed to get behind the defense, but nothing is a given with these guys. If they are unable to get open for Jackson or have trouble hanging on to the ball, it won't matter how accurate TJax is.

4. Injuries can derail a season faster than Peterson will get to 2,000 yards. But if Purple Jesus gets injured can this team be considered more than a wild card team?

This offense becomes very average and Chris Kluwe quickly becomes the most important player not on defense if Peterson goes down for any extended period of time. I don't want to dwell on this because I'll have nightmares tonight, but injuries have been in his history. Chester is a great backup and we'll continue on the same path but that would put a Super Bowl hopes in serious jeopardy.

I never want to be the negative nancy of the group, so let me put a positive spin on this. We can win with Jackson and we can win if Jackson is only average. The point is he is not the ONLY question mark we have. Everyone seems to assume we have everything else answered outside of our quarterback. If we don't stop the pass and if our offensive line struggles, it won't matter how good Jackson is.

This has the potential to be an historic season for the Vikings and I can't wait to go for a ride on the bandwagon. I am excited about the new additions and I have downed enough Kool-Aid to think Jackson will surpass everyone's expectations. But I cringe when the entire season is put on his shoulders. Maybe I'm wrong (it's happened before), but this team is not guaranteed of anything and has more to prove than just QB play.

No comments:

Kool Aid Drinkers