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Vikings’ success is all on Jackson

April 26, 2008
Andy Rennecke
This year’s NFL draft will be a very boring one for Minnesota Vikings fans.

All the fun was sucked out earlier this week when the Vikings made their most significant trade in years to land Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen.

Minnesota gave up its first-round pick — No. 17 overall — and two third-round picks for the NFL’s reigning sack leader.

Giving up these picks is a good thing for Vikings nation. Looking at the draft this year, it’s not that thick. There’s no Adrian Peterson falling down to No. 7 or Randy Moss sneaking into the late first round. If Minnesota was going to do any damage in the draft, it was going to come in the later rounds anyway. Therefore, with six picks, the Vikings can still accomplish something. The team’s first pick isn’t until No. 47 in the second round today. Hopefully, defensive ends and cornerbacks will be on the team’s radar.

It’s weird what a difference a year makes, though. At this time last year people were wondering what the Vikings were going to do if Peterson was still around. Thanks to common sense, they picked Peterson.

That pick alone has made Minnesota a contender — right now. If the team would not have picked Peterson, then the Allen trade never would’ve materialized.

The Vikings now seem to be a team players want to play for again, which wasn’t the case in Brad Childress’s first year or during Mike Tice’s bumbling caveman days. How’s Jacksonville, Tice? Say hi to Troy Williamson and his greasy hands for me.

A team that went 8-8 a year ago now has all the promise in the world. Its defense appears to be set, but cornerback still worries me. Antoine Winfield is a midget and gets beat more than people think. He’s a fine tackler and run stopper, but that’s about it.

And Cedric Griffin as a starter? I think Denny Green had better corners than him. Wasswa Serwanga, where are you?

But the main focus is always on the offense and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson was lucky he had such a potent backfield in Peterson and backup Chester Taylor last year. It bailed him out time and time again.

Still, when a playoff spot was on the line late in the season, Jackson crumbled faster than checkers falling out of a Connect Four board.

Remember the Washington game around Christmas when the national TV lights were on him? He looked like a lost puppy. When the Redskins had stuffed Taylor and Peterson up with eight or nine men in the box, Jackson was forced to throw the ball. Every throw he made seemingly ended up near Bobby Wade’s Nike spikes. Jackson was throwing junk, which isn’t good in football.

Fans pointed to his play late in the fourth quarter of the Vikings final game at Denver where he almost pulled off a miraculous comeback. But guess what? The Vikings already knew they were eliminated from the playoffs before that comeback started. Washington had won earlier in the day to clinch a spot. The pressure was off Jackson. And, he was playing against a horrible Denver team. That game didn’t mean a thing.

Therefore, fans should hope Jackson learned something from last season. They should hope that he’s learned how to handle the pressure of being a starting quarterback for an NFL contending team. If he doesn’t figure that out, our old friend Gus Frerotte is back to step in if needed.

God help us all.

But remember fans, defense wins championships. Having such a stellar defense has led the Vikings to 6-10 and 8-8 seasons the past two years. Is another two-game improvement in the cards this year?

A 10-6 would be a disappointment for Minnesota. Anything less than 11 wins or a first-round wild card game at the Metrodome should be viewed as not acceptable.

That’s what you get when you put yourself in position to succeed. Coming through isn’t always easy.

T-Jack, you’re on the clock.



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