Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Your 2009 Minnesota Vikings QB

Yesterday, I proposed that, while neither were who I'd want leading my team, Gus Frerotte really isn't that much better than Tarvaris Jackson. It's almost a certainty that the Vikings will look elsewhere for QB help in the off-season, and there are several intriguing choices out there. True, we've still got five games left in the 2008 regular season, and a lot can happen in that time, but everyone else is speculating about who the Vikings will put under center, so why not me?

Donovan McNabb. The most obvious choice, and the one that's gained a lot more momentum in the wake of his recent falling out with the Eagles -- and I can't really understand why. Yeah, he's had a lousy game and a half, going back to the Cincinnati game. But that's just six quarters! He's still got an 81.1 passer rating and, if you take out his last two games, that number jumps up to 91.3. Even with his recent struggles, he's only thrown interceptions on 2.2% of his career passes, third among active players (behind the very inexperienced David Garrard and Jason Campbell, both of whom will come back down to earth), and if there ever was a team that just needed a QB who didn't turn the ball over and relied on his defense and running game, it was the Vikings.

Naturally, you can't just ignore a few games though. McNabb has thrown five interceptions in his last two contests, and the Eagles are a mediocre 5-5-1. However, in the team's five losses, they've given up 23, 24, 36, 36, and 41 points -- hard for any quarterback to win those games. The 13-13 tie (and Donovan's lack of knowledge of the NFL rulebook) is unfortunate, but hey, sometimes guys just lay eggs. He's got exactly three games in his career with three interceptions, and that was one of them. Meanwhile, he's thrown for zero or one interception in 109 of 127 games played. He's a good player, even if Philly doesn't believe it and, even at 32, has been mostly healthy the last two seasons.

Donovan McNabb represents probably the best short-term fix for the Vikings at the quarterback position, and hopefully would come fairly cheap in terms of compensation (say, a 2nd-round draft pick). But there are other options...

Kyle Orton. Don't laugh. Another possible target for McNabb is Chicago, and if that happens, both Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman will be free agents. Orton's had a very solid 2008, throwing just four interceptions and, yes, I don't like talking about quarterback records when it's obvious the rest of the team is what won the game, but he did take the 2005 Bears -- an all-running, all-defense team -- to a 10-5 record as a rookie, while accumulating some awful numbers. I'm willing to think that means that, even as a rookie, he was able to not make the deadly mistakes to cost his team the game, and he's only improved through the years. And he'd likely be a much cheaper free agent than...

Matt Cassel. With back-to-back 400-yard passing games, Cassel's suddenly on everybody's radar. He'll be a free agent next season and, despite the rumor I've heard that says the Pats might try to trade Tom Brady and keep Cassel (which I also wouldn't be completely against), I think Cassel tests the free-agent waters this off-season, and should have plenty of takers.

I just don't think the Vikings should be one of them. The question I ask is, "It'll be nice to have Cassel, but does he come with Randy Moss and Bill Belicheck?" Even with them, his passer rating is an OK-but-not-spectacular 90.5, and he only has 13 TD passes in 11 games. He's surprisingly mobile (53 carries for 199 yards) but has been sacked a league-high 34 times at an 8.7% clip. And his 400-yard passing games come in contests where he's thrown 51 and 43 passes, Buyer beware. Beware a lot.

And then there's that other guy. You remember him, don't you?

Michael Vick. Someone is going to take a chance on Vick in 2009, but I don't think it should be the Vikings. Putting aside the PR nightmare, consider this: Vick wasn't actually that great of a quarterback with the Falcons and he hasn't played in two years. How good do you think he'll be for his first year or so back in the league? He's simply not a good choice for a team that's trying to content immediately, but I wouldn't be surprised if he surfaces with a rebuilding team in need of a spark like Kansas City or Detroit. In fact, I think he's a perfect fit for the Lions, who can't sink any lower, can they? And they need a draw at the gate to avoid more home blackouts. Imagine Michael Vick and Daunte Culpepper on the same field together. Heck, even I'd pay to see that.

These are, naturally, just a few of the options out there to fill the QB position in 2009 for the Vikings. John David Booty will still be around, waiting for his shot, and who knows what the draft will bring? The Falcons and Ravens have shown that you can succeed with a rookie quarterback right out of the gate, if you have a pretty good team supporting him, so maybe the Vikings will go that way with their first pick, now that they're not as worried about hurting poor Tarvaris Jackson's feelings. And with Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell hopefully out of the picture, the sky could be the limit for the Vikings quarterback in 2009, whoever he is.

Even if it's Kyle Orton.

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