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This is the first in a series of position-by-position looks at the Vikings' personnel entering the 2011 offseason. We begin with an analysis of Minnesota's QB situation.
Overview: The Vikings danced with the devil again, bringing back Brett Favre after his miraculous 2009 season, and lost. It ultimately cost head coach Brad Childress his job and led to Favre saying — and this time we believe it — that his career is over. The Vikings slumped to 6-10, including a 3-7 mark under Childress, as Favre struggled throughout the campaign.
Tarvaris Jackson and Joe Webb got opportunities when the normally durable Favre broke down, but neither one stood out in what were tough situations. The Vikings face many questions with this position as they enter an offseason of uncertainty under new head coach Leslie Frazier.
Brett Favre: The decision to bring Favre back made sense considering the then-ageless wonder threw for 33 TDs and only seven interceptions in '09 and led the Vikings to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. But his magic mostly was gone in 2010, save for a comeback for the ages in Favre's career-high 446-yard performance against the Cardinals. Favre finished with a passer rating below 70, threw costly interceptions that cost his team games and missed games for the first time since Week One of his second season, suffering elbow, foot and shoulder injuries that likely ended his career on a down note. There also was a lack of leadership, as the Vikings' slow start and allegations of sexual impropriety from 2008 when he was with the Jets helped plague Favre and cast a shadow over his entire season.
Tarvaris Jackson: Although Jackson performed admirably in a relief role against the Patriots, capping a TD drive and throwing for a two-point conversion after Favre was knocked out of the game, his season was mostly a subpar wash. Jackson did lead the Vikings to a victory against the Bills — again after Favre was knocked out, this time early on — but his accuracy was shaky at points. Struggling against the Giants in the next game (a "home" game that was moved to Detroit), Jackson suffered what would be a season-ending toe injury. The thinking around the team is that Jackson will be playing elsewhere in 2011, having exhausted his options here and perhaps not being as attractive to the new leadership as he was to Childress.
Joe Webb: There is a great measure of respect for the way that Webb handed his emergency starting assignment against the Eagles by leading a colossal upset, playing mostly error-free ball and displaying a knack for conjuring plays when things broke down. But he otherwise struggled, especially in his next start against the Lions and in the blowout loss to the Bears at TCF Bank Stadium. Webb could stand to benefit from a full offseason program, so he'd be one of the players with the most to lose from a lockout. He needs to work closely with new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and QB coach Craig Johnson on the basics (footwork, release, reading defenses, etc.) if the Vikings intend to keep Webb as a quarterback. He moonlighted as a receiver and special-teamer during the season and could end up being better served in a multipurpose role rather than as a 16-game starter at QB.
Patrick Ramsey: He was signed late in the season as a veteran insurance policy and did not play in his three games on the roster. The odds are against Ramsey returning.
Rhett Bomar: Bomar was signed off the Giants' practice squad, and although he saw no action he could end up being in the 2011 QB mix. Remember, Bomar once competed with Sam Bradford as Oklahoma's starting quarterback before transferring and has some potential worth investigating. A possible No. 3 option next season.
Bottom line: Frazier strongly suggested to PFW this offseason that the team is seeking a franchise quarterback, and one way to achieve that is to land one in the draft. The Vikings select 12th in Round One and might be in line to draft one of four likely first-round QBs. They also could go the veteran route in free agency or seek to land an experienced college prospect (Ricky Stanzi or Andy Dalton, for instance) later on in the draft. Whomever they select, though, likely will have strong leadership qualities — a point Frazier has stressed. Only Webb and Bomar are under contract currently.