To listen to most commentators and some fans, Buffalo Bills rookie linebacker Arthur Moats did the work that the Minnesota Vikings coaches were loath to do—put Brett Favre’s fundament on the bench and “see what you have” in Tavaris Jackson. Now, Viking fans endured three years observing what they had in Jackson before Favre’s entry into the picture. He was Brad Childress’ man, because Childress did not want a real quarterback, just someone who did as he was told, and hand-off to Adrian Peterson. I watched Jackson play against Green Bay as a rookie late in the 2006 season. The Packers were mostly ineffective on offense, failing to score a touchdown; fortunately for the Packers, the Vikings fielded this quarterback who one commentator would describe as a “poor man’s Kordell Stewart.” He was not very good, if one be honest; in fact he was terrible. The Packers won the game on a late field goal, 9-7, and if you were a Packer fan, who probably had to thank Childress for leaving that Tavaris guy in there.
During the next two years it wasn’t that Jackson didn’t on occasion show flashes of competence at his position; he once threw four touchdown passes in a 2008 game against the Cardinals—on just eleven passes completed. However, Peterson and Chester Taylor did most of the work, compiling 231 yards rushing between them. But mostly TJ appeared to be just an appendage, and this may have been the reason that induced certain bad habits like failure to prepare and lack of initiative. On Sunday against the Bills, Jackson did seem to benefit, at least at first, by having a fresh body and the failure of the Bills’ defense to game plan against him. One might nit-pick by pointing out that Sidney Rice made two spectacular grabs that easily could have been interceptions (Jackson’s fourth pass of the game was a pick-six), but this was the kind of play the Vikings were expecting from Rice all season, just before he inexplicably decided he needed hip surgery a just before the season started. In the second half, we saw “vintage” TJ—3 for 5, 17 yards and 2 interceptions.
As for Brett Favre, an MRI revealed a sternoclavicular joint sprain to add to his other injuries. I can’t think of any other player, let alone a quarterback, become a walking M.A.S.H unit and still be expected to play. Does he want to play? Knowing Favre’s MO, he will waffle at first, but as game time nears he can’t resist the temptation to beat-up his body some more. The Vikings should, for history's sake, allow Favre to finish the season out if he wants to. Still, the quicker the season ends the better for him and me, because the closer the time comes to when Favre finally leaves the stage, the closer I come to abandoning the Vikings ship, just as I jumped off the Jets ship two years earlier. I felt no emotional connection to the Jets and heartily despised the Vikings in the past; when Favre played for those teams, I wanted to see him do well and disprove the legion of petty, envious naysayers, and if the team did well, that was something that had to be tolerated. I’ve been a Packer fan for 40 years, and most of those years were exercises in frustration and embarrassment before Favre arrived on the scene; whether the Green Bay faithful like it or not, Favre will join Lombardi as the most recognizable name in team lore. When Favre retires (at last), the hurt feelings can start the mending process.