It’s time for No. 7 in Minny

By Jim Souhan
Updated: October 26, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS — Welcome back, T-Jack.

It says here that you, Tarvaris Jackson, should start at quarterback on Sunday.

Those who don’t want to see you play will point out that you are no Brett Favre. At the moment, I think that is the greatest compliment you could receive.

Jackson should start Sunday precisely because he is not Favre, who has threatened to ruin a potential championship season for the team that bribed him with (at least) $16 million to work for four months.

Jackson starting on the road against New England, with its myriad blitzes, is not ideal. In fact, under normal circumstances, it would be an idea to be avoided like unwrapped Halloween candy.

These are not normal circumstances. Favre can’t be allowed to play hurt, or to play hurtfully.

Favre held out from training camp, until the Vikings gave him a raise. He started slowly, costing the Vikings what, with a little more passing precision, should have been victories against New Orleans and Miami, victories that would have the Vikings in first place in the NFC North today.

Sunday night, in the most important and symbolic game of the season to date, Favre threw away another victory, tossing three second-half interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.

Monday, Childress revealed that Favre has a fractured left ankle. Many will call this a bad break. I say it’s good timing. Favre did not deserve to keep the starting job after playing with such reckless disregard for his teammates Sunday.

The Vikings rank 24th in passing. Favre ranks 30th in passer rating, behind a Lions backup and two Raiders, and just ahead of Derek Anderson and two Panthers.

His injuries give Childress a chance to yank Favre without officially benching him. It would be the height of selfishness for Favre to try to extend his record consecutive-games streak by playing hurt.

Luckily for Childress, the injuries are serious enough that he shouldn’t have to pretend to care about Favre’s feelings.

Childress was wrong about a few things Sunday night — like taking a knee at the end of the first half, and not challenging a bobbled touchdown catch by Packers tight end Andrew Quarless — but he was right when he considered benching Favre.

When you’re the head coach of an NFL team with aspirations, you have to enforce standards. Favre did not live up to the standards of a franchise quarterback on Sunday.

Jackson might not fare any better than Bad Brett but, under the circumstances, he’s worth a try. His arm strength and mobility could produce a few big plays a game for a team that, with Favre under center, has yet to produce a pass play of more than 37 yards.

Favre has been going downhill, physically, since opening night.

Keeping him out of the lineup will enable him to heal and prepare for the second half of the season, when the Vikings could still emerge as the most dangerous and talented team in the NFC.

Keeping him out of the lineup could enable Childress, who appears to dislike Favre every bit as much as Favre dislikes him, to regain some measure of control over the offense.

Only four NFL teams have scored fewer points than the Vikings, despite the presence of skill players such as Percy Harvin, Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson and Visanthe Shiancoe.

When the Vikings first signed Favre, they spoke of him “managing” the offense, allowing the talented players around him to carry the load.

This season, Favre has been the nation’s biggest mismanager this side of Wall Street.

Even with a loss on Sunday at New England, the season would not be lost, not if the Vikings can right an offense that sliced through Dallas and New Orleans in the playoffs last year. There will be time, over the last nine games, to make the playoffs in the watered-down NFC.

Let Favre sit. Let him heal. Let him think about how he’d like to end his career — as a washed-up quarterback who dragged down an entire team, or a legend who made one last run to glory.