Tuesday, January 06, 2009

On Tarvaris Jackson

The Vikings didn't lose that game yesterday. The Eagles took it from them, brutally and without remorse. As close as the score was, it was kept that way by a couple of fluke plays. The sense watching it was that the Vikings were giving it all they had to hang close, hoping for a puncher's chance, while the Eagles applied relentless pressure, knowing that sooner or later Minnesota would slip up. And when they did - letting Brian Westbrook jump outside for a 71 yard score highlighted by impressive blocks from DeSean Jackson and Kevin Curtis - the Eagles stepped on their necks. One got the sense that the Vikings were suddenly anxious, could feel it slipping away, and tried to make up a two-score deficit every single time they got the ball. That, of course, is a recipe for disaster, especially with a young quarterback and a blitzing defense. The Eagles teed off, Jackson's passes started going haywire, and that was that.

It's Jackson I find most interesting in the aftermath. There's a fair bit of blame being tossed in his direction. Admittedly, I'm just a fan, but I didn't see the guy who couldn't pass or couldn't stay in the pocket they're talking about on the radio. I saw a guy who was pretty much on the run the entire game, and whose speed and elusiveness got him out of at least a half-dozen brutal sacks. The Eagles managed one sack the entire game; put Headbanger Gus back there and the total creeps up near double digits. Yeah, he was throwing a lot of balls of his back foot by the end of the game, but he was also running for his life, heaving the ball downfield while avoiding sacks and trying to make something out of nothing. I saw the guy who chased Asante Samuel downfield after throwing a pick, and who got back up to lead a scoring drive after being utterly levelled by Chris Clemons.

In the end, he wasn't going to save the Vikings. The Eagles were too good, chewed up too much of the clock, and scored when they had to. They mostly shut down Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor; they won the special teams wars and never let up. But I've got a lot of respect for the way Jackson and the Vikings played, and I think that if they get him a couple of receivers and a little more time, he could be a lot more dangerous the next time around.

In the meantime, bring on the Jints.
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