Tag Archive: Tarvaris Jackson


I will readily admit that I was opposed to playing Christian Ponder this week against the Packers. I tend to be more conservative when it comes to quarterback development, and if you commit to sitting a QB and letting him learn I believe that you should stick to that and not rush him into the starting role before he is ready. The Vikings don’t exactly have a beautiful track record when it comes to developing quarterbacks (the last one they developed that amounted to anything was Daunte Culpepper if I remember correctly, unless you’re one of the few Tarvaris Jackson fans left) so it’s hard for me to trust their judgement on playing Ponder this early in his rookie season. I had my reasons, and I thought they were legitimate. Why play your rookie quarterback in his first start of his career against the defending Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers, especially when they love to apply pressure off the edge with interesting blitz packages?

Shows what I know.

Ponder didn’t have an insane stat sheet at the end of the game, completing only 13/32 passes for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He had a QB rating of 59.2, and threw a couple of passes that could have been potential turnovers. The Vikings couldn’t complete the comeback against the Packers, and the Vikings limped to a 1-6 record on the season.

But somehow, that all doesn’t seem to matter.

I haven’t watched every single Vikings game this season, but it’s safe to say they looked like a different team than they did previously. They fought throughout the entire game, they didn’t look like absolute garbage in the second half (though they did struggle in the 3rd quarter as Green Bay adjusted to take away Ponder’s roll-out plays that accounted for so much of their success in the first half) and Ponder gave the Vikings a significant spark on offense. It will be interesting to see what happens the rest of the year, but I have to give the Vikings credit: They were in the right when they chose to start Ponder today.

Had McNabb started the offense would have had no confidence, it would have been the same vanilla play-calling, and McNabb’s seemingly disinterested attitude would have continued to permeate through the offense and the rest of the team. Instead, Ponder’s excitement and up-tempo attitude became contagious and the team seemed to be fighting harder than they did in other weeks. I was very impressed by this, and it was actually fun to watch the Vikings on offense today. That’s not something that I’ve said often when watching them in previous weeks.

Adrian Peterson had a great game against a very good rushing defense, and while you have to give credit to the Vikings offensive line and blocking schemes, it’s hard not to argue that a lot of it had to do with Ponder. McNabb struggled to stretch the field vertically and I have seen him get sacked so many times off of play-action I’m not sure he even expected to throw the ball after he turned around to scan the field anymore. Ponder was only sacked twice tonight, which says a lot about the game-plan the Vikings had (AKA, get the ball out early and let Ponder use his mobility to extend plays outside of the pocket) but it also speaks to Ponder’s ability to process information and how ready he was to play this game.

Now, this wasn’t just about Ponder. Ultimately, Ponder and the Vikings lost and that had everything to do with Aaron Rodgers. It has been said time and time again, but he is without a doubt the best quarterback in the NFL right now. The things he is doing right now are just out of this world. At one point Rodgers had thrown three incompletions in the first half. Two of them were a result of dropped passes that should have been caught, and the other was a spike. He was unbelievable in this game and it was really something amazing to watch. He hasn’t had a QB rating under 100 yet this year and he had one of his best games of the season against the Vikings. You have to feel for the Vikings because their defense was just not up to the task of slowing him down, especially in the secondary.

Overall I was obviously incredibly impressed with Rodgers, but Ponder really impressed me because the Vikings offense just looked totally different. It looked like he was unleashing some of their potential whereas McNabb was holding them back in previous starts. Again, I didn’t think Ponder should play in this game because I like to be conservative with QB development, but it is clear that he was ready to start. The Vikings absolutely made the right decision playing him in this game. It will be interesting to see how he does the rest of the year, particularly when teams make a concerted effort to take away so much of his passing outside of the pocket (especially on designed roll-outs).

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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More Free Agency

Leinart officially back with the Texans.

Olindo Mare signed a 4 year, $12 million contract with the Panthers ($4 million). Apparently the Panthers are serious about turning their 2 win roster from a year ago into a potential 3-4 win roster for years to come.

Robert Gallery (OG) has signed with the Seattle Seahawks. They should have a pretty good offensive line.

DeAngelo Williams got 5 years, $43 million ($21 million guaranateed) from Carolina. They definitely overpaid for him, and considering his injury concerns (plus having a starting caliber back in Jonathan Stewart already…) they could have easily let him leave. Under no circumstances would I have paid him near that much money. As I said on Twitter “In three years people will look back on this contract and say ‘Wow, Carolina made a huge mistake paying DeAngelo, an injury prone back, all that money.'” http://twitter.com/#!/TMeltonScouting

Per Adam Schefter it seems that Kolb to Arizona in exchange for DRC and a pick should happen by the end of the week. Will be interesting to see just how high that pick is, and what kind of a contract extension Kolb gets out of AZ. Probably something substantial, 4-5 years $40-50 million if I had to guess.

Eric Weddle got a record deal for a safety, 5 years, $40 million.

Santonio Holmes officially got 5 years, $50 million with $24 million guaranteed. Reportedly he took less money because he “loves being in NY” and may have wanted to help keep space open to pick up Aso. Will be very interesting to see if that works, but keeping Holmes was huge for NY.

The Jets have also been rumored to have interest in Randy Moss. Would be a great redemption story if he got a shot at playing in NY, especially if he stepped up and played well like I think he is capable of.

David Baas (OC) has signed with the Giants.

Matt Hasselbeck has signed with the Tennessee Titans (which I predicted, not to pat myself on the back).

Doug Free stays in Dallas (4 years, 32 million)

Paul Pozluzny to Jags (6 years)

Barry Cofield to Redskins (6 years)

Jacoby Jones stays with Texans (3 years, 10.5 million)

Donte Stallworth to Redskins (1 year deal)

Brad Smith possibly signing with Chicago

Ike Taylor resigns with Pittsburgh (4 year deal)

Raiders resign Jarvis Moss, Jon Condo (LS)

DeAngelo Williams is deciding between Carolina and Denver.

Takeo Spikes to Chargers (2 year deal)

Leinart has not yet signed with Seattle (according to his twitter), but it could still happen.

Eric Weddle is in high demand. Jaguarys, Broncos, Vikings, Cowboys and Texans all interested.

Broncos looking at McGahee for RB.

Dolphins have expressed interest in Marion Barber.

Mason Crosby resigns with Packers (5 year deal)

Wayne Hunter (OT) has signed a 4 year deal worth $13 million with the New York Jets.

Kevin Boothe signed a two year deal with the Giants.

Kevin Payne signed with the Panthers.

Chiefs resigned Casey Weigmann and Terrance Copper.

Nate Davis signed a two year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Nick Barnett, Leonard Davis, Roy Williams (WR), Devin Aromashodu, Derek Anderson, Bryant Johnson all released by their former teams.

Devin Aromashodu has signed with the Vikings.

The Falcons have resigned Stephen Nicholas to a 5 year deal (GREAT NEWS!)

The Titans are expected to release former #3 overall pick Vince Young on Thursday once teams are allowed to cut players. As I have mentioned before, he could be a fit in Buffalo.

I’m late on this, but Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg, Todd Heap and Willis McGahee for anyone who missed it.

Again, late on this, but Quintin Mikell signed a 4 year, $28 million deal with the Rams. Nice signing on paper, might not be as productive on the Rams as he was on a talent-laden Eagles defense.

The Chargers have signed Bob Sanders according to a report I saw on Twitter. Will wait to see it confirmed.

Tyler Thigpen agreed to a three year deal with Buffalo.

Damoine Lewis signed a one year deal with the Texans.

Jeremy Clary signed a 4 year, $20 million deal ($8.5 million in 2011) with the Chargers.

Randy McMichael signed a one year deal with San Diego.

Tarvaris Jackson’s contract with the Seahawks is 2 years for $8 million.

Ron Edwards (DT) signs a 3 year, $8.25 million contract with Panthers.

Nathan Enderle has signed a rookie contract with the Bears. Look out for him moving up the depth chart in the next year or two.

Cofield got 6 years, $36 million and $12.5 guaranteed from the ‘Skins. Not sure how well he fits there, he was perfect for a penetrating scheme like the one the Giants or Falcons run.

Santonio Holmes resigned for 5 years with the Jets.

I’ll do my best to keep up with all the free agency moves. Here is what I’ve heard so far:

Tarvaris Jackson to Seattle- Not loving this move, because with Jackson and Whitehurst the Seahawks don’t have much at QB, especially since they are now letting Hasselbeck walk. Hasselbeck may have had some problems with injuries recently, but Tarvaris has had injury issues at times as well. Exchanging Hasselbeck for Tarvaris is a definite downgrade in my opinion, not a good move for Seattle in my opinion.

Charles Johnson re-signs with Carolina: Carolina gave Charles Johnson a big contract: 6 years, $72 million with $32 million guaranteed. Interesting that they felt they needed to lock Johnson up, but let Peppers walk. Peppers is obviously older and got more money, but the way he played for Chicago this year you have to wonder if the Panthers made a mistake letting him go (though Peppers may have decided to leave even if Carolina offered him that much money) and if giving Johnson a “perennial pro-bowl level deal” when he has had one year of impressive production as a starter. He looked good in a rotational role before that as well, but that’s a lot of money to give a guy who had his best season by far in a contract year. But they probably couldn’t afford to let him walk right after they lost Peppers the year before.

St. Louis Rams agree to 4 year deal with former Eagles Safety Quentin Mikell: Clearly the Eagles are comfortable letting Kurt Coleman step up into a consistent starting role if they let Mikell go so easily, but Mikell was one of the best safeties in the NFL last year, and he is a great pick-up for the Rams on paper. Mikell will be playing on a defense with significantly less talent, which is something you have to consider when predicting whether or not this is a great signing. It’s a definite upgrade for the Rams at that position, but it will be interesting to see how much money he got.

Santana Moss re-signs with Redskins- Not a game-changer by any means, but clearly the Redskins wanted him back and he wanted to be back, hopefully the quarterback throwing him the ball doesn’t change as frequently as it did last year. Sounds like it is a 3 year deal, $15 million with a $5 million signing bonus, $6 million guaranteed.

Seahawks may sign Leinart- Leinart could be reunited with Pete Carroll in Seattle. Will be interesting to see if he rounds out the depth chart. **Update** It sounds like Leinart has agreed to a deal with Seattle. This will easily be the most interesting/ridiculous quarterback competition of any of the 32 training camps…

Baltimore locks up Marshal Yanda- Yanda is a quality guard, haven’t heard the terms yet. Will update when I hear what the contract is worth. **Update** The deal is believed to be worth something in the 5 year to $32 million range.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Donovan McNabb Benched?

McNabb's Eagles used to torment my Falcons on a yearly basis but even I know he doesn't deserve to be treated this way.

I know this isn’t exactly “NFL Draft” related, but it’s something I felt that I needed to talk about. I am honestly shocked and a frankly a bit disgusted that the Redskins have decided to bench Donovan McNabb. Now, I would definitely not call myself a fan of McNabb’s. In fact, for many years when he was on Eagles teams that knocked my beloved Falcons out of the playoffs I despised him. But despite my hatred for him and those Eagles teams who always got in the way of my team come playoff time I always respected him because he was and is a quality NFL QB. The Redskins made a play to bring him in and like the Redskins always do they raised expectations too high with veteran acquisitions with too little well-developed talent to ever live up to the expectations of the front office, the media and the fans.

Now, I still believe McNabb is a good QB and his play this season will not change my mind about that. Why you ask? Let’s consider what he is working with on the offensive line. He has a rookie protecting his blind side in Trent Williams, and despite his high draft status he can’t be expected to step up to the NFL level and dominate talented DE’s that he will face, especially in a division with the Giants who have been pressuring QB’s consistently for years, the Eagles who usually have a stable full of quick edge rushers, as well as the Cowboys who have one of the best in the business at getting after the passer in DeMarcus Ware. In addition to Williams the Redskins are starting Kory Lichtensteiger, Casey Rabach and Will Montgomery in the middle of their offensive line. Lichtensteiger was a fourth round pick by the Broncos two years ago who moved to guard because he didn’t have much experience snapping in a traditional pro-style offense, Rabach is a former third round pick of the Ravens who has, to put it lightly, not had a very good season of pass protection. Montgomery is a former seventh round pick of the Panthers, and he plays next to Jamaal Brown, the former Saints left tackle who they tried so hard to get rid of last season. Not exactly a stellar group of players blocking for him, they have needed significant help up front for a couple of years but they have continued to ignore it, even while drafting Trent Williams. They could use an upgrade at LG, C and RG and depending on how Brown looked at RT they could use help there as well.

Not only that, but McNabb doesn’t have a whole lot of talent around him. Two guys who were supposed to contribute, Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, have produced nothing since being drafted and it is probably fair to label them busts at this point having been picked in the second round. Santana Moss is still there, as is Clinton Portis, but as most people know Portis has not been healthy much this season and that has left Ryan Torain as the lead back. However, it is well known that the Redskins need a wide receiver capable of being a go-to guy on offense which they currently lack. So besides their woeful offensive line they have little talent outside at the skill positions outside of TE where they have reliable targets in Chris Cooley and Fred Davis (even though Davis can be inconsistent).

So is it really fair to blame McNabb’s career high 15 INT’s entirely on him? I don’t think so. That makes this benching all the more confusing. Yes he has had a down statistical season, but if you are going to bench McNabb you should bench at least three members of the offensive line, Ryan Torain, Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong so they can see what they have in other players. Because if Rex Grossman and John Beck, two NFL journeymen who have little value as potential starting QB’s if they have any at all, warrant exploration, then anyone on that roster has a legitimate case to get some playing time over the next three weeks.

If Shanahan actually releases McNabb not only would the Redskins shoulder a substantial cap hit, he would put a quality starting QB on the free agent market.

There is one intriguing thought I had about all of this. If the Redskins, despite the contract extension they gave McNabb and any evidence I or anyone else can come up with to support the idea that this season really isn’t a great reflection of McNabb’s ability as a NFL QB, do ultimately decide to release him there will be a number of teams lining up for his services, the first of which should be the Minnesota Vikings. I think it is pretty obvious that Brett Favre should have retired last season, and I don’t think that he should come back for another year. It’s a shame that his career may have to end this way, but it really is his own fault for coming back one year more than he should have. But without Favre the Vikings will be searching for a new QB. I, like most people, am convinced that Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer at QB for the Vikings. I am not even sure he is a reliable enough option for an interim-only basis. Joe Webb will get his first career start on Monday Night Football against the Bears in TCF Bank Stadium, so that will be a good opportunity for the Vikings to evaluate whether or not he is worth keeping as a developmental QB or as a potential #2 at some point.

Beyond that, though, the Vikings literally have no talent at QB. They should be in the market for a veteran to take the reigns for at least a year and a young QB to develop into an eventual starter this year, and should McNabb become available I imagine the Vikings would spare no expense to get him to Winter Park to sell him on the organization. If they were able to get McNabb it would save the Vikings from potentially spiraling into the bottom of the NFC North with the Detroit Lions for a couple of seasons. He won’t fix the offensive line, the defensive line or the secondary, but he would solidify the QB position which is probably their most pressing need at the moment, and that’s something. Not to mention having McNabb would be a great buffer for whoever they draft to play QB in the future because ideally he would play well enough for at least a year or hopefully two years to keep fans from clamoring for the young gun to play.

So it will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. Hopefully the Redskins don’t just release McNabb, but if he doesn’t want to play there anymore and they do cut him then I’m sure the Vikings would be more than happy to scoop him up. God knows McNabb deserves a team who will treat him with some respect. Maybe the Vikings could be that team.

Thanks for reading,

–Tom