Thursday, February 28, 2008

Solving Our Problems: Sage Rosenfels

[Solving Our Problems is an ongoing series here at the Ragnarok where I evaluate the Vikings' options going into the offseason. I started by looking at the quarterback options, examining Derek Anderson, Donovan McNabb and possible backups for Tarvaris Jackson. I've tried to figure out who the QB is going to throw to, starting with free agents Bernard Berrian and Donte Stallworth, and taken a detour to look at a safety the Vikings might sign, Madieu Williams. While we're detouring, I figured that it might be worth it to look at another QB the Vikings might end up with, Sage Rosenfels.]

According to Don Banks of, the Vikings have offered Houston a third round pick for Sage Rosenfels, their backup quarterback.
I hope Banks is telling the truth, because Rosenfels would be perfect as the Vikings backup QB. He's experienced, is happy as a backup and has shown over the last two years that he's good enough to step up and help the Purple win if he's needed, whether because Tarvaris got hurt (which happened all too often last year) or because Tarvaris is struggling (which also happened all too often).

Last year, Rosenfels started 4 games for the Texans due to injuries to Matt Schaub, and played in 5 others. In those 9 games, he completed 64% of his 246 passes for 1647 yards and 15 touchdowns, which was good for a 84.8 QB Rating. While he did throw 13 interceptions, he still amassed 39.3 DPAR, which was the 18th highest total in the NFL. He was also the 9th most valuable QB in the NFL on a per play basis, with a DVOA of 21.7%.

And those numbers weren't that much better than his statistics from 2006 either. He didn't get a lot of playing time In the 4 games he played in that year, but he was successful when he was on the field, completing 69% of his 39 for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns, while only throwing 1 pick. His advanced statistics weren't too shabby either, as he had a 9.6 DPAR and a 39.8% DVOA.

Another thing Rosenfels has going for himself is that he rarely gets sacked. He was only dropped once every 41 times he went back to pass, an astoundingly low rate. Rosenfels has only been sacked 10 times in his entire career and was sacked only once every 39.8 pass attempts. To put that in context, Tarvaris had about as many pass attempts (313), but was sacked 19 times last year, or once every 16.5 dropbacks, which isn't that bad of a sack rate (David Carr's sack rate is once every 9.4 drop backs).

Even if he cost the Vikings a third round pick, Rosenfels would be a much better backup than almost all of the other options that have been discussed. Trent Green and Steve McNair are old and injury prone, Cleo Lemon and Josh McCown have never demonstrated competence, and Chad Pennington, Quinn Gray and Chris Simms all want to be starters (not to mention Pennington and Simms injury issues). A third round pick has value (the last three years, Vikings drafted Marcus McCauley and Dustin Fox in the third round, and used their pick in 2006 to move up in the second round) but not as much as value as having a legitimate backup for an inexperienced starter at the most important position on the field. The Vikings made that mistake last year and it cost them a playoff spot. If they are able to acquire Rosenfels, it'll show that Childress has learned from his mistake, which would be a very good sign. It would also mean that they are set at the quarterback position going into the season, something they haven't been able to say since before the 2005 season.

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