Jackson has turned into the people's choice

MINNEAPOLIS — Maybe all Tarvaris Jackson needed was a nice stretch as "the other guy" — the unknown, the possibility, the wild card. Here in Minnesota, we love "the other guy," especially when it's a backup quarterback.

For long-term evidence of this, look no further than Metrodome patrons' infatuation with third-string QB Gino Torretta after he essentially led one solid drive in the 1993 preseason. For recent evidence, look no further than a Star Tribune online reader poll.

The question: Who should start at QB on Sunday? Tarvaris Jackson was firmly in the lead as of Tuesday afternoon with 52.5 percent of more than 3,000 votes. What really confirms our "the other guy" love? Third-stringer Joe Webb was second, with 25.1 percent. The 41-year-old with the gimpy ankle (the same one who led the Vikings within one bad pass/one extra man from the Super Bowl last year) was third with 22.3 percent.

If there is a rallying cry here, it is this: "Put in (Player Y). He can't do any worse than (Player X)."

T-Jack had a brief stint as "the other guy" in 2006, when he was a raw rookie and the Vikings (and their fans) had seen enough of Brad Johnson. Then he started two games down the stretch, looked awful, and opinions were formed.


He was still raw in 2007 when he started 12 games by default, which made the natives even more restless. And his fate in the court of public opinion was sealed with a horrendous performance in the 2008 postseason against the Eagles.

We all know what happened next: The Vikings, feeling they were a QB away from being a Super Bowl contender, brought in Brett Favre for 2009. When he came back for 2010, hopes were high that Favre could sustain that high level of play. But it just hasn't happened.

So now the Vikings sit at 2-4, on the brink of being in big trouble. Favre has a 68.0 passer rating, the lowest of his career (even worse than when he led the Packers to a 4-12 record via 29 interceptions in 2005). He's dealing with an off-field scandal. Perhaps most importantly, he has two small fractures in his ankle.

And Jackson has gone from being the guy nobody wanted under center to "the other guy" Minnesota fans seem to adore.

How would Jackson fare if thrown into the fire Sunday? It's hard to say. But it's fascinating to think of Jackson as a savior after all he's been through here. If he won Sunday, he could be a hero. If he lost, maybe Favre would take a spin as "the other guy" and see how it feels.

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