Analyzing Position Battles – QB

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2009 – 7:11 am

Over the past few weeks we’ve used a series of blog entries to take a detailed look at some key position battles that will take place during training camp. The positions we’ve looked at so far are RT, nickel back, WR, backup DT and backup LB. This morning we’re going to finish the “Analyzing Position Battles” series by taking a look at what will be the highest-profile position battle during this training camp – the QB position.

Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will battle over the next month or so for the job of starting QB. Jackson is entering his 4th season with the Vikings while Rosenfels, who was acquired via trade earlier this offseason, is preparing for his 1st season with the Purple.

At this point, there really is no favorite in the race. You can take each candidate and make a good case for why they should be the starting QB. Ultimately, though, Jackson and Rosenfels will be judged on how they perform over the next few weeks in camp and in preseason games.

Taking a look at Jackson, you’ve got a great athlete with physical tools that are impressive. Yes, fans recongize his ability to escape the pocket, tuck the ball and pick up yardage and 1st downs on the ground. But his actual #1 trait might be his arm strength. It’s hard to describe with words – you’ve got to actually see Jackson throw a pass to see how strong of an arm he has. Jackson has shown us flashes of brilliance, such as the final 4 games of the 2008 season. But he has generally struggled to establish a consistent standard of play, and as we know from what Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has said, establishing a standard and making the routine plays routinely is what the Vikings are looking for from their starting QB.

While Rosenfels’ arm might not be quite as strong, his ability to pass the ball should not be overlooked. He has more than enough arm strength to win the starting job. Now we want to see how accurate he can be in game situations. You tend not to worry about Rosenfels establishing a consistent standard of play. He’s approached this situation with the right mindset, determined to succedd and determined to fit in with this team and help the Vikings improve by whatever means necessary. The question is, will his standard of play be good enough to win the job? On one hand you might say he’s been in the league for 8 years, yet he hasn’t been able to lock down a starting job. But on the other hand, if you take a look at his past you’ll see that he’s actually caught some bad breaks and he might just be an 8-year veteran who has finally found the right opportunity to take over a starting job.

No matter how you look at it, or who you might favor based on past results, this is truly a position battle that is yet to be determined. Can Jackson improve his pocket presence and capitalize on his tremendous athletic ability? Can Rosenfels get acquainted to his new team, showcase his consistency and display a comparable physical ability to Jackson? These are questions that will play out over the next few weeks, and they’re questions the Vikings coaching staff will have to make a judgment on in order to pick their starter.

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Rosenfels: “This is a marathon”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2009 – 1:48 pm

Because of the high-profile nature of the Vikings current QB situation, many will rush the judgment of whether Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels should be the Vikings starter come Week 1 of the regular season. But the truth is, that ultimate judgment won’t be rushed at all and will, in fact, take some time to be determined.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress conveyed that message during his press conference following practice on Friday and Rosenfels echoed a similar sentiment.

“It’s the first day,” Rosenfels said. “This is a marathon out here, not just training camp but the whole season. It’s a start and we installed some of the basics of our offense. Every day is a learning experience.”

With just 1 practice so far at training camp, there isn’t nearly enough information to begin breaking down the battle between Jackson and Rosenfels. In fact, it’s difficult to even determine how it was decided who would take the 1st team reps to open practice.

“I’m not sure how they did that last night, I would have to go in and check on that,” Childress said. “You guys are more in tune to that. We are just trying to get them all different reps.”

While even Childress acknowledged on Thursday that it would be ideal to have an established player under center heading into camp, the reality is that the Vikings don’t sit in that position. As a result, and as is the case with many other positions on the team this year, there will be a genuine competition for the starting job. And in determining the identity of the starter, Jackson and Rosenfels will have to split reps with the 1st team.

“It’s not the premier situation you’d like to have,” Rosenfels said on Friday. “You’d like to be throwing with Bobby (Wade) and Bernard (Berrian) and (Visanthe) Shiancoe and all those guys on every throw. But that’s not what we’re going to do and the best way for us to compete is to split those reps and make the most of them.”

The magnitude of the Jackson/Rosenfels decision will be a key to the Vikings prospects for success in 2009. And while Childress doesn’t know who his starting QB will be for Week 1, at least he knows that both men competing for job have the proper attitude.

“I’m just coming here to compete, just like I would do if I was named the starter,” Jackson said after practice on Friday. “I wouldn’t work any different. I work hard anyway and I just take it as I’m trying to prove myself anyway. I am competing against [Rosenfels] but I’m also competing against myself. Just trying to get better.”

Said Rosenfels: “I have a lot of confidence in what I’m doing. I feel like I know this game really, really well. I feel like I’m prepared. I’ll never go into a practice or game unprepared and I think that’s the key to success for a quarterback.”

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Vikings Conclude Practice No. 1

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2009 – 12:31 pm

The 1st practice of 2009 Verizon Vikings Training Camp is officially in the books. All 79 players who’ve reported to camp were on the field in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts for the 120-minute practice. To begin camp, the offensive players are wearing white jerseys and the defensive players are in purple jerseys.

 With temperatures in the mid-70s, minimal wind and plenty of sunshine, conditions were near ideal for players and fans alike. Vikings fans filled both sets of tall bleachers located adjacent to the practice fields and on several occasions were stirred to cheers by a long completion or impressive interception.

“We always enjoy coming here to watch training camp,” said Dan, a citizen of Mankato who enjoys bringing his 2 kids to camp every year. “These are the guys we watch on TV all year long, so to get an up-close look at them like we can here is really fun.”

After speaking with the media on both Wednesday and Thursday, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress didn’t have much to say following today’s morning practice. He did meet with the media several minutes after practice, however, and seemed even-tempered about his team’s work during the 1st practice.

“First day, not a lot to report,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said immediately after practice. “It’s good to get those guys out there and getting used to their pads. It’s always interesting for me to go and look at the tape and see how guys move around and how they’re carrying their pads, particularly interested to look at some of those rookies to see how they did. We’ve got a lot to work on but we’ve got a little time to do it.”

The Vikings will get back to work this afternoon, as they have a 2nd practice scheduled for today at 3:00 p.m. In between the morning practice and afternoon session, the players will grab lunch, head to meetings and replenish their bodies. Following today’s afternoon practice the entire team will be introduced to fans at Blakeslee Stadium. The event is scheduled to begin around 5:00.

Several other players spoke after practice today, including both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. We’ll have updates of what they had to say posted here on the Blog in a little while.

A few highlights from today’s practice included:

– CB Karl Paymah playing tough press coverage against WR Nick Moore. Paymah brought Moore to the ground during 1-on-1 drills this morning, but then Moore got back up and hauled in a reception against Paymah on the next snap.

– LB Heath Farwell surged through the offensive line to make what would’ve been a huge hit on the RB during the 9-7 inside running drill.

– Rookie LB Jasper Brinkley also found a way to break through the line to make what would’ve been a jolting stop on rookie RB Ian Johnson.

– I didn’t see, but the crowd broke out in ovation after CB Derrick Roberson made an interception during 1-on-1 drills.

– CB Cedric Griffin made an outstanding play during 7-on-7 drills when he dove and deflected a pass from Sage Rosenfels to Bernard Berrian.

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Childress Stresses Compeition In Opening Presser

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2009 – 5:05 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress held his pre-camp press conference on Thursday among a larger-than-usual contingent of media members. The pre-camp press conference typically draws the largest media crowd of camp, but this year the opening press conference was more heavily-attended because of the scope of the Vikings current QB situation.

Brett Favre’s decision to stay retired and not join the Vikings at training camp put an end to the NFL’s highest profile offseason story, but it doesn’t mean the spotlight on the Vikings QB competition will dim. With Favre out of the picture, the same 2 QBs who took reps during OTAs and mincamps this offseason – Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels – will battle for the starting job.

“You want to know a standard of performance,” Childress responded when asked what he’s looking to find in the QB competition. “You want to know what you can expect each and every time you go on the football field. I think that’s the biggest thing you look for at every position.”

Competition among the Vikings 3 QBs will gain the most traction in newspaper headlines and at the water cooler, but Childress also stressed that there will be plenty of competition up and down the Vikings roster.

“We’re going to have competition at a bunch of positions, whether it be competition for the starting position or competition to be on this 53-man roster,” Childress explained. “We’re going to let some very good football players go here before it’s over.

“I was struck by one of the quotes and I shared it with the guys. ‘These guys are competing for one of the most impermanent jobs in our society.’ It’s true. It’s very difficult to be a professional football player and let alone to be one for very long. Guys like Antoine Winfield, guys like Pat Williams that have done it for ten-odd years, are the exception rather than the rule.”

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Jared Allen: “We have their back”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2009 – 8:49 pm

Unless you’ve been stuck in a cave all day today, you’ve noticed that Vikings DE Jared Allen has made several apperances on various media outlets regarding the Brett Favre situation. His message has been clear: he doesn’t hold a grudge against Favre and he is fully confident in both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.

“If you’ve got a chance to get a player at that caliber at any position, you take the chance,” Allen said. “It’s no disrespect to anybody on this team. When we set our offseason goals for this season, it was set with either Tarvaris or Sage as our quarterback. For me, we’re back to camp, it’s business as usual, let’s move forward, the hooplah is over, let’s go get to business.”

Although Allen spends most of his season chasing quarterbacks, he made it clear on Wednesday evening that when it comes to Vikings quarterbacks, they have his full support.

“We got their back, I’ll tell them right now, we have their back,” Allen said. “One of them is going to be our quarterback and we’re cool with that. It’s just one of those things where they need to go out there and play their game. It’s not like it was a bunch of people being brought in to try to replace them. We’re talking about a future Hall of Famer that came on the auction block and we had a shot at him and we didn’t get him.”

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Childress: “We are going our way”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2009 – 6:00 pm

Players began arriving at Gage Hall on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, today as the Vikings are nearly set to open 2009 training camp. The team will have a series of meetings tomorrow and then the 1st practice of training camp will be held on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m.

It’s typical for a throng of media members to wait outside the main entrance to speak with players as they drive into the parking lot and begin the process of checking in. But today a larger-than-normal media contingent was present, and speaking to players wasn’t their primary objective.

In light of QB Brett Favre’s decision to remain retired and not join the Vikings, much of today’s focus was centered on Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress. After arriving in Mankato, parking his car and settling in for a moment, Childress came outside to address the media and his team’s current QB situation.

Childress began by reiterating the message he sent yesterday, acknowledging the rare opportunity of looking at adding a Hall of Fame QB who has a record that speaks for itself, knowledge of the Vikings offensive system and knowledge of the division. He also added that he owes it to his team and to the Vikings organization to continue and bring in the best possible players to help the team win. But Childress also said that both Favre and the Vikings have moved their separate ways and now his focus is on the Vikings QB competition.

“I’m more than content with these two guys (Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels) competing with each other and throwing JD Booty in the mix,” Childress said. “They’re going to go back and take the same turns that they took all spring. It’ll be a fun training camp from that standpoint.”

Childress said he had an opportunity today (Wednesday) to speak with both Jackson and Rosenfels in his office at Winter Park. He said he thought Jackson was excited to begin training camp (and added the he was told Jackson was the 1st player in Mankato Wednesday) and that from what he could tell, Rosenfels was also excited to compete for the starting job.

Childress was asked about a few other important topics…

On the prospects of looking at Michael Vick: “The guys we’ve got, we’re going to fashion the team around and go forward that way. It’s going to be Sage and Tarvaris, and we’ll see how JD Booty factors in.”

On the chances of alienating Jackson and Rosenfels by pursuing Favre: “The National Football League is extremely, extremely, extremely competitive. (Bringing in Favre is) [N]o more (alienating) than bringing in Jared Allen has a chance to alienate the defensive line or the defensive ends. You say ‘QBs are a different animal…’ from the standpoint that they compete to play, I don’t know that they are different. I don’t worry about trust being an issue. They trust the fact that we’re going to get the best players we can to surround the rest of the football team.”

On the Percy Harvin contract situation: “I just talked to Rob (Brzezinski) a little while ago and they’re in the middle of negotiations and they both take time (to go) back and forth. It’s important for him to get in here, especially at his position and with the different things he has to learn. Not to mention getting here and getting in pads.”

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