Back to reality, Vikings have same problem
The 2009 NFL season has finally arrived and The Twilight Zone episode of hated rival Brett Favre suiting up for the Minnesota Vikings has been officially cancelled.
Last Tuesday's announcement -- which happened precisely at 3:53 p.m. Central time -- that Favre decided to stay retired marked the first step of getting back to a normal world.
Now, Green Bay Packer fans can start the healing process of accepting their once infallible Football God back in their broken hearts, while Viking fans can stop fighting with the inner conflict of actually cheering for the biggest antagonizer in the history of their team.
Yeah, I'm sure there were some shouts of "why us?" going on in Viking Land after the announcement, since now the team is back to the less than stellar options of Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. It is like going from an entertaining four-ring circus to a seminar of how to identify different rocks of the Mesolithic Age.
But after hearing Favre's reasoning of not coming out of retirement, in the end, it was the best-case scenario for the Vikings.
There were two different Favre's the team were pursuing -- the one they needed to help them over the hump and the one which could single-handily destroy a season.
The one which could have put the Vikings on top of the division was the one from two years ago, when he keyed a 13-3 Packer record.
That Favre was still loving the game, played it with passion and could still be a legit quarterback picking defenses apart.
The Favre who called Viking head coach Brad Childress Tuesday was the one who could have self-destructed by week eight of the season, after realizing he's not fit at the age of 40 to finish a 17-week regular season schedule.
It also seemed like Favre didn't want to partake in training camp, which is only two weeks long for the Vikings this year.
So, in essence, if Favre wasn't able to make it through a two-week training camp, he wasn't going to make it through an entire regular season.
A passionate Favre ready to play a full schedule is heads and shoulders better than what the Vikes currently have, but a spiritless and doubting Favre is one best served to stay in Mississippi.
So, with that anomalous chapter in Viking lore behind us, what's left of the season for the team?
Remember, this 2009 squad is basically the same one which won the NFC North Division title with a 10-6 record -- with Gus "Head Butt" Frerotte playing the QB position.
Even the much-maligned Jackson had several rays of bright performances down the stretch.
Believe it or not -- most will probably say not -- but the Vikes are better at the signal-calling position than last year.
Rosenfels is an upgrade over Frerotte, who did an admirable job, but defenses still didn't respect him enough to take those eighth and ninth players out of the box to stop super-back Adrian Peterson.
The former Iowa State quarterback is younger -- 31 -- and does have better arm. He still brings in a seasoned flavor, since this will be his ninth season in the league.
He fits in a West Coast offense pretty well, with a career 62.5 passing percent average.
His five-game stint last year with the Houston Texans after replacing injured starter Matt Schaub didn't go too bad.
He threw for a 66.7 percentage mark, along with 1,431 yards.
But then the red flags start to appear.
Much like the gunslinger Favre, Rosenfels has a knack for throwing interceptions, as his 6-to-10 TD-to-interception ratio marked last year.
In his career, Rosenfels' ratio in that regard is 30-29, while Jackson's is 20-18.
So, it's back to that old cliché for the Vikes -- "They need a quarterback to just manage the games, not lose them."
Although that adage is true -- since the elite rushing game and top 10 defense can take care of many games -- if either Rosenfels or Jackson starts, it still will be a liability.
An inspired Favre could have been counted on for at least winning one or two comeback victories with an effective two-minute warning drill.
No one has yet seen if the current two Viking hopefuls can do that.
It's a shame that in Childress' fourth year, this black hole still persists for the Vikes. The sole blame can be laid at Childress' feet for the many QB misadventures -- although Childress can also be credited for revitalizing a horrible defense and wide receiving corps, as well as building a stout offensive line.
There have been some very good additions through the Childress era, which have built up a solid team all-around.
The non-draftees include Chester Taylor, Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen, Bernard Berrian, Ben Leber, Visanthe Shiancoe and Madieu Williams.
Childress' drafts have produce big contributors in Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway and Cedric Griffin.
But of all those players Childress has helped add, all could go on to help another coach next year because of the ineffective way he has handled the QB position.
Low draft picks have been dealt away and bad signings have led to flops such as Kelly Holcomb, Brooks Bollinger, Mike McMahon and Brad Johnson.
Frerotte played admirablly, while Jackson unfortunately hasn't been the mule Childress was hoping for after hooking his wagon up to him.
Potential trades for Jay Cutler or Matt Cassel probably wouldn't have worked out.
Chicago had too much ammunition over the Vikes for Cutler, just due to the fact they had higher draft picks and a better veteran QB in Kyle Orton to trade with Denver.
Kansas City had a much higher second round pick for Cassel, making the Vikes up the ante and possibly offer up a first rounder and a $60 million contract for basically an unproven commodity.
Oh, and only one word needs to be used when Michael Vick's name comes up: "No."
So once again, the season will hinge on two unspectacular quarterbacks.
It's not to say either Rosenfels or Jackson can't finally have their "breakout" seasons this year -- because anything can happen.
And that adage was proven with the more-than-flirtation with signing Favre. Yes, anything can happen this season.
Or, at least, Viking fans and Childress hope so.
(Check out live updates and live video from the Vikings' training camp from Brian Wierima this coming Thursday and Friday on dl-online.com.)