The Vikings spent their latest camp working on the Wildcat formation.

They should have been drawing up their Wildcard formation.

The Wildcat features a runner lining up at quarterback to confuse the defense.

The Wildcard formation features defensive quarterbacks lining up looking confused.

The Wildcat formation, meant to capitalize on the skills of Percy Harvin, can produce explosive plays.

The Wildcard formation, meant to account for the possibility of the arrival of a certain quarterback from Mississippi, can produce explosive emotions.

Like that little dent in your windshield or that lone dandelion in your yard, a quarterback problem is something that must be addressed early and quickly, before it spreads.

Since Brad Childress arrived in 2006, he and the Vikings braintrust have built an impressive roster. Entering their fourth and most promising season, the denizens of the Braintrust find themselves sitting in a gleaming Ferrari, staring at cracked glass.

Consider what their indecisiveness at quarterback has wrought:

• Tarvaris Jackson, the Vikings' first, tentative, proposed solution to their quarterback void, doesn't know if he's going to start or be third-string.

The problem is not that he has earned the gift of certainty; it is that if he is going to start, he needs all of the snaps and assurances you can give him.

Instead, he's waiting for ESPN to tell him whether Brett Favre has just boarded a flight to the Twin Cities, and hearing challenges from teammate Pat Williams.

• Sage Rosenfels, thought a few months ago to be the Vikings' salve if not their cure, doesn't know if he's going to start or be third-string.

The problem is not that he has earned a starting job; it is that if he is going to start, he needs all of the snaps and assurances you can give him while he adapts to a new team and scheme.

Instead, he's trying to get Ed Werder and Chris Mortensen to return his calls. "Yeah, Ed -- it's Sage Rosenfels. Yes, Sage. S-A-G-E. Yes, that's my real name. Anyway, I was wondering. ... No, my parents weren't hippies. So is Brett ... why are you asking me about Woodstock?''

• John David Booty doesn't know if he has a chance to become the quarterback of the future, or the winner of the second annual Tyler Thigpen Free One-Way Ticket Out of Town.

• Vikings offensive players who aren't quarterbacks can't be taking these OTAs or minicamps or whatever they are called very seriously. The whole purpose of these camps is to build continuity. So why isn't Childress holding these camps at Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, where his receivers can learn to keep Favre's fastballs from breaking their fingers?

• The specter of Favre playing for the Vikings prompted Vikings great Fran Tarkenton to blast Favre for being self-centered and mercenary.

And just where would our society be without hypocrisy? Without hypocrisy, how would we function as parents? If we told our kids to do as we did, our high schools would be in flames.

All of this tumult and uncertainty stems from stubbornness -- Daunte Culpepper's unwillingness to rehabilitate his knee injury in Minnesota and work happily under the terms of the contract he signed, and Childress' conceit early in his head coaching career that he could win with just about any quarterback.

Childress and the Braintrust have built a fine roster around the stagnant quarterback position the way our governments build superhighways around decrepit shacks.

If Culpepper had proved cooperative ... or the Vikings hadn't placed such faith in an aged Brad Johnson ... if they hadn't invested so much confidence in Jackson ... if they had signed a proven, functional veteran like Jeff Garcia ... if they had been blessed with a surprise success like a young Tom Brady or an old Kurt Warner ... or if they had been smarter or luckier, they could rank among the NFL's Super Bowl favorites right now.

Instead, the Vikings have a roster filled with players unsure of whom their quarterback will be, or should be, as long as Fluctuating Favre is stewing on his Mississippi ranch.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. •