On his blog recapping the Vikings-Lions game, Pacifist Viking had this to say about Tarvaris Jackson's performance against the Lions, in which he went 17 for 33, 166 yards, and 0 TD to 4 INT:
Tarvaris Jackson never got comfortable and made many bad mistakes (I suppose a young QB is bound to have a 4 INT game in at least one of his early starts: let's hope there aren't too many)--he was very, very bad.
I'm going to focus on the four interception portion, and probably do a poor job of talking Vikings fans off the ledge. Last week, I wrote of Tarvaris Jackson in a piece on later round quarterbacks:
If he is a success, he would break the mold. It would take one above average passing season in his career to make him the second most successful passer drafted from a non-Division IA school [outside the top 50 overall picks] since 1983. We know the Vikings staff likes him, and he was the 62nd overall pick. There were 16 other teams that liked their guy picked between 51-80, and gave their guy an opportunity, and only 6 reached Journeyman status or better.
Using the game by game database going back to 1995, let's take a look at other young quarterbacks and how they fared in terms of interceptions early in their careers. I have included all quarterbacks drafted outside the top 50 who qualified as at least "Journeymen" in my post on later round quarterbacks, plus a few others drafted outside the top 15. All of these guys should qualify as young passers, as they debuted and had most of their early starts by age 25 (Jackson is 24 this season, and in his 2nd year in the league). I looked at the first 10 games in which the player had at least 15 pass attempts, and the list is sorted by reverse order of interception rates in those first 10 "starts", and also lists the most interceptions thrown in a game in the first 10, with the TD/int ratio in that game. Also included is the 2nd most interceptions thrown in a game in the first 10 starts. Jackson's numbers threw 5 career starts are included for comparison at the top.
Player Int Rate Worst game 2nd most thrown ============================================== T. Jackson 0.068 0/4 2 K. Stewart 0.047 3/3 2 J. Plummer 0.045 2/4 2 K. Boller 0.042 0/3 2 T. Banks 0.039 0/2 2 D. Brees 0.038 0/2 2 G. Frerotte 0.035 0/1* 1 J. Kitna 0.035 1/3 2 M. Bulger 0.031 1/2 2 B. Griese 0.030 0/3 1 A. Brooks 0.028 1/2 2 J. McCown 0.024 0/2 2 P. Ramsey 0.024 1/4 2 T. Brady 0.024 2/4 2 C. Batch 0.023 0/3 2 M. Brunell 0.020 0/1 1 ==============================================
*NOTE: Frerotte had 5 games played in the 1994 season, with 100 attempts. He did have a 1 TD/4 INT game in his 9th game of the 1995 season
Okay, so no other quarterback on this list had a 0 touchdown, 4 interception game. Tom Brady did have one 4 int game, but that was against Denver, after he had gone 135 straight pass attempts without an interception to start the 2001 season. Ramsey and Plummer both threw four interceptions in their 2nd career starts as rookies, so they were even younger and less experienced than Jackson. None of those other three had as few attempts as Jackson to get to four interceptions.
Similarly, Boller and Batch had their three interception games early in their rookie years. Griese and Kitna had their 3 interception games in their fourth career starts.
If you want to go outside that list to some guys not included because they did not have enough starts early in their careers, Jake Delhomme had a 1 TD/ 4 INT game (on 49 pass attempts) as a 24 year old in week 17 of 1999 against Carolina. He would not start again until moving to Carolina in 2003. Jim Miller had a 1 TD/3 INT game in his 2nd career start in 1995, and would have no more starts that season, and not get another chance until 1999. Hasselbeck did not begin to start until age 26, and he threw no more than two picks in any one game in his first ten starts.
Notably, none of the guys on the above list had another game with more than two interceptions in their first ten starts. So when Pacifist Viking hopes there are not too many more games like that, he is right. If there are, history does not bode well for Jackson's chances as a starter, and he might want to study up on what Craig Whelihan, the fourth "most successful" non-division IA quarterback drafted outside the top 50 overall since 1983, is doing these days.
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