Monday, June 09, 2008

What Jared Allen's Expectation Means for Tarvaris

I like it. I like that Jared Allen expects to go to the Super Bowl. I like the confidence, I like the fact that he has high goals, and I like the fact that he's willing to go on the record with them. I know his comments likely gave Childress a mild heart attack, but still -- I like the way he thinks.

I also like the fact that Tarvaris is having more success at mini camp than he did last year. As I've been saying all offseason, the biggest factor in whether the Vikings reach their goals is Tarvaris Jackson (I know, I know-I'm not the only one who is saying that). Last year's performance wasn't good enough, even if the Purple did go 8-4 when he started. That fact becomes painfully obvious when you look at his QB Rating+, which was a dismal 87, 13 percent worse than league average.

When the NFL as a whole has a QB Rating of 80.9, the highest ever, a rating of 70.8 won't cut it. Tarvaris has to improve, but the question is, how much? What's the worst he could play in the regular season and still "lead" the Vikings to their fifth Super Bowl?

Since 1998 (when the Vikings helped turn the NFL into a passing league), no Super Bowl quarterback has had a QB Rating+ lower than 91, and that was by Eli Manning last year. Aside from him, only Rex Grossman was below average the year his team made the Super Bowl and only four other quarterbacks had a QB Rating+ less than 110: Steve McNair in 1999,Trent Dilfer in 2000, Brad Johnson in 2002 and Jake Delholmme in 2003. And if you'll notice, everyone of those teams relied on their defense, special teams and running game to get to the Super Bowl, except for the Titans, who needed a miracle to get out of the first round (Also, the Titans started Neil O'Donnell in 5 games, and his QB Rating+ was 117).

So what does that mean for Tarvaris? Well, if we assume that next year, the NFL has a QB Rating of 79.1 (which is the average of the last five years), he'd have to turn in a QB Rating of at least 72.0 to match Eli's QB Rating+ from last year. If the league has a QB rating of 80.9, which would tie it with 2004 and last year for the highest average ever, then Tarvaris will need to finish the season with a QB rating of at least 73.9, which, again, isn't much of an increase.

Getting to Eli Manning's QB rating from last year probably isn't going to be good enough, to be perfectly honest, unless Tarvaris repeats Manning's performance in the playoffs. I think it's much more likely that Tarvaris will need be at least league average for the Purple to make the Super Bowl. Even a Rex Grossman like QB Rating+ of 94 would likely require him to post a QB Rating of at least 75.0.

Can he do it? I think so. In the eight games the Vikings won with Tarvaris under center last year, he had a QB rating of 82.9, which would have given him a QB Rating+ of 102, better than Trent Dilfer's QB Rating+ of 100 in 2000. When you consider the improvements in his receiving corps, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think that Tarvaris can maintain that level of play for an entire season. If he can't? Well, then those who think that the Vikings are squandering their Super Bowl chances due to their handling of the quarterback position will be right, and Jared Allen will be wrong. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I hope Allen's the one who is right.

No comments: