HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

September 24, 2007

Too early to tell on QB Jackson

By Jesse Menden

In my opinion, one of the toughest jobs in sports has to be judging young talent.
So many things can go wrong. Some players are good in college or the minor leagues, but the talent doesn’t translate to the big leagues. Others don’t have the right attitude or work ethic.

And then there are some that are athletic, have the right attitude, say all of the right things, work hard, and still don’t succeed. Is that what we are going to get from Travaris Jackson?

Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress better hope he is a good judge of talent. By trading up to get this Division I-AA quarterback and throwing him to the wolves in just his second year, Childress has essentially hooked up his coaching career with the Vikings to the Alabama State alum.

It is one thing to draft a quarterback, but it is another to start him way before he is ready. That is what Childress is doing, even though he would never admit to it.

And it is even worse when you have no serviceable backups behind him, and no veterans to act as a mentor.

The thing about a young talent like Jackson is that nobody really knows how good he will be until several years after he is drafted. It would be ludicrous to say Jackson won’t be a good quarterback after just four NFL starts. It will take time to tell, and in the meantime, the Vikings might have some bad teams. One thing is for sure, we will find out.

To bench Jackson (if completely healthy) at some point this season would be admitting defeat by Childress. So, even if there was an adequate backup, I doubt we would ever see him. Besides, that would be giving up too soon anyway.

Jackson’s first two performances this year do make me question Childress’ decision, even though it is way to early to judge Jackson after just four career starts.

He has made some rookie mistakes which are understandable. He has thrown some balls he should not have, he has decided to run with the ball when he should have passed, and he still needs to learn how to slide instead of getting pasted by a 300-pound lineman.

But other things concern me a little more. The top thing is his throwing. In the Detroit game, Jackson threw several wobbly balls, one of which was intercepted.

He also shows a lack of touch on the deep passes. They always seem to be too long or too short. Isn’t that something he should have mastered by now?

Another thing that concerns me is something that Jackson has not done. He has not led the Vikings’ offense on a long drive resulting in a touchdown. I realize some of that has to do with the talent around him, but he has not gotten the job done in that area.

In the first two games, he has led the offense on two touchdown-scoring drives. The first one came when Adrian Peterson caught that pass that was thrown behind him and ran in for 60 of the 80 yards on the drive. The other drive came in Detroit when the Vikings marched the ball all of 43 yards in seven plays.

Jackson could turn out to be a hall of fame quarterback, there are no signs yet, but it is too early to tell.

Ticketmaster . . . ugh!

Job commitments and near-freezing temperatures kept me from waiting in line outside of the Xcel Energy Center for Minnesota Wild tickets last weekend.

That left me with the only other option, log on to Ticketmaster. I knew of the extravagant fees they tack onto each ticket, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain (and rant) about it.

Ticketmaster tacked on a $5.75 convenience charge on each ticket, plus a $4 processing fee, and another $1 for taxes. On top of that, the Wild added a $2 facility charge per ticket. Exactly what is a facility charge anyway? C’mon . . . are you kidding me?

Now, I would not have such a problem with this if the consumer had another option, but they don’t. For people in this area to avoid all of those charges, we would have to physically drive down to the venue to get the tickets.

I also would not complain if the teams gave us another option. There is Coke and Pepsi, Chevy and Ford, and Taco Bell and Taco Johns, but no equal rival for Ticketmaster.

But it could be worse, they didn’t charge for standard shipping. I’m sure that will come someday, too.