Tarvaris Jackson and other tidbits from training camp
Author: Mike Wobschall, vikings.com
Most of the talk surrounding Vikings rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson deals with his exceptionally strong throwing arm and whether he will eventually ascend to backup quarterback status during the 2006 season. But after watching the second-round draft pick through the first ten days of camp, another aspect of his game stands out - his decision making.
Numerous times Jackson has pulled the ball in and scrambled for a short gain, rather than forcing a pass through a space too small. Although quarterbacks are off-limits to defenders, Jackson has even taken a sack or two rather than hurrying a throw or making a bad pass. Also, during Sunday morning's practice, Jackson threw a ball out of the endzone rather than forcing a pass to a receiver and turning the ball over.
A quarterback can have all the talent in the world, but if his decision-making ability isn't as strong he won't be able to excel. Brad Johnson, a 14-year NFL veteran, is a prime example of the importance decision making can have on a player's career.
Johnson's career touchdown/interception ratio is 155 to 102, a remarkable number, especially given the number of passes he's thrown in his 14 years of service. In 2005, Johnson threw just four interceptions in 294 attempts (1.4%), a mark that led the league.
Certainly Johnson doesn't have the strongest arm, and he isn't the most elusive quarterback either, but his ability to make quick decisions and quick throws is what has enabled him to have a long, established and successful career in the NFL.
"In terms of standing there flat-footed," Childress said, "there are going to be people that can do that [throw the ball 70 yards], but Brad can throw on time as well as anyone. I'm fond of saying that you throw with your eyes and your legs. The saying with quarterbacks is, don't throw hard, throw early."
Jackson knows he has a good example to follow in Johnson.
"Brad is very patient and I'm not quite to that level yet," Jackson said. "I'm out here and I look to see what he does on certain plays or against certain coverages and then I just try to imitate that when it's my turn. I just like to see where his head's at because he knows the system, he's been doing this for a while and he's a good guy for me to learn from."
The well-chronicled west coast offense that coach Childress has implemented in Minnesota puts an even greater emphasis on the decision making of a quarterback. Under this system, it's realistic to see five receivers on any given play, meaning the quarterback's decision making process has to be sound and decisive.
"It's a different level of play than it was in college," Jackson said. "Check-downs are more important here and you've got to know your reads. Decisions have to come quicker, so that's been something I've had to adjust to.
"Being a rookie, half the battle is just knowing what you have to do and not turning the football over," Jackson said. " I know early I had a couple of interceptions so right now I'm just trying to come out here and protect the football and not turn it over."
Hurry it up
The Vikings practiced their two minute-offense and defense in front of a supportive crowd during Sunday's morning practice. The offense and defense went live against one another as the offense tried to march down the field and set up a score before time ran out. Each drive ended with a Ryan Longwell field goal.
During the drill, quarterback Brad Johnson looked sharp. He hit receivers with short, quick throws that allowed them to get out of bounds to stop the clock.
Also, Longwell went seven for seven on field goal tries during a special teams portion of practice.
Johnson and receiver Troy Williamson hooked up for the day's longest play, showing what a complement Williamson's speed and deep threat-presence can be to the west coast offense. On the play, Williamson burned down the middle of the field past the defensive secondary and hauled in Johnson's pass. The play was good for what would have been a 75-yard touchdown reception. It invoked the largest reaction of the day from the crowd.
It takes no talent
Coach Childress addressed the Minnesota State University, Mankato football team earlier in the week. When asked what he told the team, Childress said: "I told them three things that we talk about all of the time that ring true for any football team, and I think I've told you guys this. Be good at the things that take no talent. It takes no talent to be in shape...It takes no talent to know your assignment...and it takes no talent to hustle to the football. If you can do those three things as a football team, you have a chance to win a lot of football games."
Williamson provided other highlights on Sunday morning, exciting the crowd and gaining even more confidence from teammates and coaches. On one play, Williamson displayed a tremendous leaping ability and hauled in a pass from Johnson. Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield provided good coverage and Williamson simply went over the top of him, came down with the ball and held on.
Williamson and quarterback Mike McMahon hooked up during one-on-one drills on Sunday. Fred Smoot was in coverage this time, and McMahon threw a pass that Smoot was able to bat down. Williamson leaped in the air, caught the ball as Smoot batted it down, juggled it and finally came down to the ground holding onto the football.
Rookie receiver Jason Carter also made the highlight reel on Sunday. During the one-on-one drills, Carter was able to get by Sharper along the left sideline. Carter caught the ball, juggled it, positioned his feet in bounds and then regained possession of the ball, all while turning a complete circle. He managed to stay on his feet and in bounds after the catch, finishing the play off by running into the endzone.
Sharper was able to retaliate, however. Later during the one-on-one drill, Sharper jumped a Tarvaris Jackson pass intended for Carter and was able to intercept it.
The play of the day, though, came compliments of Willie Offord during full-team drills. On the play, Mewelde Moore caught a pass streaking across the middle from the right. Receiver Koren Robinson cut off his route, crossed patterns with Moore, and Moore attempted to lateral the ball to Robinson. The lateral went astray and fell to the ground. Offord was right there and scooped up the ball, returning it all the way back for a touchdown.
Chester Taylor was back on the field this morning but saw limited action. A lower body injury held him out of practice yesterday. "We want to make sure that he treats that up and takes care of that before he gets back on the field," Childress said.
Chad Greenway sat out of practice this morning, but was out on the field this afternoon for a one-hour special teams practice. Childress said Greenway was "bright and bouncy last night" and that he was likely able to practice today but that they "held him out this morning as a precaution."
Tank Williams sustained what is likely a season-ending injury during Saturday's afternoon practice. The injury occurred in the same knee Williams hurt two years ago while with Tennessee.
Kevin Williams did not practice this morning due to swelling in his knee. "Of course, he's had a chronic knee since coming out of college and it's two-a-days. The wear and tear takes its toll, and so we shut him down today." Coach Childress said once the swelling went down Williams would be back on the field.
Pat Williams continues to work toward returning to practice. "He's still moving along," Childress said. "It kind of cooled off on us. I was expecting hateful hot when we started that first day, but he's made progress." Coach Childress expects that he will be back within the next couple of days.
Marcus Robinson has not yet returned from Chicago, where he was home attending to family matters.
Tony Richardson was practicing today after returning from Canton, Ohio to join Warren Moon during the induction ceremony.
Re: Tarvaris Jackson and other tidbits from training camp
Vikings | T. Jackson learning from B. Johnson
Sun, 6 Aug 2006 19:14:13 -0700
Mike Wobschall, of Vikings.com, reports Minnesota Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson is looking to learn from QB Brad Johnson. Jackson said, "Brad is very patient and I'm not quite to that level yet. I'm out here and I look to see what he does on certain plays or against certain coverages and then I just try to imitate that when it's my turn. I just like to see where his head's at because he knows the system, he's been doing this for a while and he's a good guy for me to learn from."