The second of the Vikings' two main options to replace Tarvaris Jackson (after Matt Cassel) is Jeff Garcia. He's a veteran with a proven track record coming off of three straight seasons with a quarterback rating over 90. In his ten seasons, he's had seven seasons with a completion percentage over 60%, including the last three years. Of course, it's that first number (ten seasons) that raises some big questions--is he too old, at 39, to be successful over a full season and in the playoffs?
And if he's not too old, would he fit in with the Vikings? Last year, Garcia played in 12 games for Tampa, completing 64.9% of his passes for 2712 yards and 12 touchdowns while throwing only 6 interceptions. It was the sixth straight season he failed to play in 16 games. Of course, one of the reason that he's missed games is that he's lost the starting job (or didn't start with it). The other reason is that he tends to get hurt. In 2006, he replaced Donovan McNabb after McNabb was hurt and led the Eagles to the second round of the playoffs. Of course, he only played in 8 regular season games. Two years ago, (when he should have been playing for the Purple) he missed two games with injuries and sat out a meaningless Week 17 game, and last year he lost his starting job after Week 1 to Brian Griese and then missed the Bucs' Week 15 loss to Atlanta with a calf injury, returning to put up back to back sub 75 QB Ratings in the last two weeks as Tampa flamed out of the playoff hunt.
Even at 38, however, he was still a very mobile quarterback, as the Vikings' learned all too well last year. While he doesn't scramble as much as he used to (he's averaged about 10 yards per game the last three years) he has the ability to escape the pass rush and keep the play alive. His sack rate was only 5.8%, and his career sack rate is only 4.8%. In contrast, Tarvaris Jackson was sacked 8.7% of the time he dropped back last year, and has a career sack rate of 7.6%. And he's outperformed his offensive line significantly, as the Bucs line had an adjusted sack rate of 6.5% (while Adjusted Sack Rate and sack rate are not the same stat, that seems to be a large enough gap to illustrate that Garcia's good at avoiding sacks). His ability to scramble would certainly help behind a line like the Vikings that was significantly worse at preventing sacks than Tampa's (the Purple's ASR was 8.8%).
Another of the big issues that Garcia has, however, is a weak arm. He only had 5 completions for more than 40 yards last year (or one more than Tarvaris and three fewer than Gus Frerotte). He's averaged 6.64 yards per attempt over the last two years, and 6.55 YPA last year. That would have put him 10th in YPA last year as a team, which seems to show he still has the ability to make plays, but in actuality, his high YPA has more to do with a lack of negative plays than it does high yardage plays, as he was 22nd in completions for more than 20 yards. Of course, for a team like the Vikings, avoiding sacks is almost as important as big passing plays, so his mobility might actually offset his lack of an arm.
If the Vikings do decide to go with Jeff Garcia at quarterback, it would fill the position with a capable quarterback this year, and with a quarterback that Tarvaris Jackson can learn a lot from. Garcia rarely gets criticized for his decision making (his career interception rate is 2.3%). He comes with some drawbacks though--he doesn't have the arm to stretch the field, which makes it less likely that his presence would force defenses to remove defenders from the box (though I doubt the Vikings would see 9 men in the box with Garcia under center) and he's not going to make it through the season without getting hurt. Tarvaris Jackson will be playing quarterback for the Vikings if they sign Garcia to start. And, depending on when Garcia gets hurt, Tarvaris could be playing during the stretch run or the playoffs (which seems likely considering that Garcia tends to wear down rather than get hurt early). Finally, signing Garcia (to what I assume would be a one year contract) means that the Vikings would have only delayed the need to find a franchise quarterback for a year, leaving them with only John David Booty under contract at the end of the year. Basically, they'd still have to address the position in the draft (with either Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman or Nate Davis) or guarantee themselves another off season with massive questions about the position. I don't think that signing Garcia is necessarily a bad way to upgrade at quarterback, but its certainly not a great way to do so (like it would have been two years ago). The fact that he's the first or second best option (depending on how you feel about Cassel) says more about the way that the Vikings have mismanaged their roster than it does about him. Can they win the Super Bowl with Garcia under center? If Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson can win Super Bowls, so can Garcia. Is Garcia likely to be in good enough shape to lead a team through the Playoffs (or even be able to play)? Considering what happened at the end of last year and in the playoffs against the Giants the year before (when he had a 60.5 QB Rating), I doubt it. Which means that while Garcia might get the Vikings another home playoff game, it doesn't seem any more likely that he'll be able to win it at 39 years old than Tarvaris would be.