My mind keeps coming back to former Viking Tarvaris Jackson as a low-cost, low risk option to try and shore up the Redskins messy quarterback situation.
He was finally improving in Minnesota when his (admittedly slow and rocky) development was cut off by Brett Favre’s arrival. He certainly is not yet at the point where he should be washing out of the league – he’s going to have at least one more chance to stick with a team before that happens.
I am well aware of how poorly he has played. I am also well aware that this is a far from ideal scenario, and could still leave the Redskins with a terrible quarterback situation.
But we need to remember that there is no scenario that could be implemented this offseason that would leave the Redskins with a quarterback depth chart we could feel good about. None. Compared to the other options I outline below, Tarvaris Jackson provides a dim glimmer of upside (I cannot stress enough – compared to the other realistic options) and the chance to help the team in one role or another beyond this season.
And what exactly is the downside? If he fails completely, the end result is the Redskins are stuck with poor quarterback play. But doesn’t everyone agree that’s what the Redskins are likely facing already? Remember, he only has to be better than the loser of a Rex Grossman–John Beck competition to help the team.
Before you rip this idea, let’s compare it to the other options for the quarterback position:
The Status Quo
Grossman and Beck compete for time. Unless one of them proves he is a viable starter – which everyone seems to agree is highly unlikely - we start over on the QB search next February.
The Aging Vet
An old, broken down veteran like Carson Palmer or Matt Hasselbeck would inspire greater confidence than either Grossman or Beck. But they don’t at his point in their careers have the capability to carry an offense on their own - they would just keep poor quarterback play from being an active drain on whatever production the rest of the offense is able to muster. And neither one is likely to play 16 games, so we’re looking at, say 12 games of merely adequate play punctuated by four or so from one of the guys who everyone seems to agree isn’t good enough to begin with. And then next offseason, we’re right back where we started.
A Reclamation Project
The names that have been bounced around most here are Alex Smith and Vince Young – guys who to this point seem like failures in the NFL but are clinging to the hope that in a new environment might, just might, realize their potential. It’s possible for either one, but you have a hard time convincing me that these guys have a demonstrably better chance than Jackson of resurrecting their career.
This is the middle ground, and a deliberate attempt to avoid the pitfalls of the other plans. Here’s the scenario. Either Beck or Grossman, whichever the Shanahans have less faith in, is given the boot. The survivor competes for the job with Tarvaris, who is on a multi-year contract but at modest cost and with few guarantees. For the contract to be successful, Jackson only has to be a serviceable, stable backup. Given who he is competing against, even mediocrity might make him a starter for now. There is a small but real chance he could still develop into a pretty good player, though I am not foolish enough to bank on it.
Let me toss out some totally made up probabilities about what course this may take:
- 15% Becomes a successful enough starter that quarterback is no longer considered an urgent need.
- 35% Proves to be a more successful starter than Grossman or Beck, but is still mediocre. Provides a non-disastrous (though not special) level of QB play for a year or two while a replacement is found and/or developed, then slides into the backup role he should have had all along.
- 35% Serves as a backup for two or three years, getting occasional spot duty due to injuries or poor starters, but shows he has not improved his accuracy and decision making sufficiently to ever hold a starting job.
- 15% Plays poorly enough that he’s not even acceptable as a #2 quarterback.
In my view all but the final option would make it a successful signing. Based on my utterly made up and subjective numbers, an 85% chance of adding a little stability to a position that is currently a total mess makes some sense. At a position with exceedingly low expectations, we are only searching for the least bad option. And I think this one is at least worthy of consideration.