Shuffling quarterbacks is a hard habit to break

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2011 - 12:55 AM

The Vikings are the only team in the NFC North that doesn't have a long-term answer at the most important position on the field.

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Two guys who have started under center for the Vikings in recent years: Brooks Bollinger and Gus Frerotte.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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Brett Favre apparently is serious about retirement. And Vikings coach Leslie Frazier made it clear that Favre's time in Minnesota is finished even if he does change his mind.

That means the returning quarterbacks on the Vikings roster will be the inexperienced Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar.

Webb was drafted in the sixth round last year out of Alabama-Birmingham with the intention that he would be moved to wide receiver. That didn't happen only because then-coach Brad Childress saw Webb's arm strength in a rookie minicamp.

Bomar was signed in December off the Giants practice squad.

The Vikings, who finished 6-10 and in last place in the NFC North last season after advancing to the NFC Championship Game in 2009, are in a division with three teams that appear to be set at quarterback for years to come.

Aaron Rodgers, 27, is fresh off leading Green Bay to a Super Bowl title. Jay Cutler, who will turn 28 on Friday, has received his share of criticism in Chicago but did get the Bears to the NFC Championship Game last season. Matthew Stafford, 23, has battled injuries in his first two years but the Detroit Lions continue to have high hopes that the first pick in the 2009 draft can be the face of their turnaround.

"The only thing that gives you hope as a football team -- you can have a great defense -- but when you've got a quarterback, you've got hope. Because at the end when the game is close in the fourth quarter, that's when those guys show up; they win games," said Herm Edwards, an NFL analyst for ESPN and former coach of the Jets and Chiefs.

Frazier saw an example of this firsthand when he watched Peyton Manning during his two seasons as an assistant coach on Tony Dungy's staff in Indianapolis. Manning guided the Colts to a Super Bowl title during the 2006 season, and Frazier became the Vikings defensive coordinator the following year.

"I've always had an idea of the importance of the position," Frazier said, "but being there and just seeing some of the things that Peyton did where you always felt like you had a chance to win -- I don't care who you were playing, what the situation was. ... Peyton is, of course, unique. But [having] someone similar, yeah, it's critical."

The Vikings also can't be comfortable with the quarterback carousel that took place at Winter Park during Childress' tenure as coach from 2006 through the first 10 games of last season.

A 40-year-old Favre had a fantastic 2009 (33 touchdowns, seven interceptions), but he was unable to recapture that magic last season. Because 2006 second-round pick Tarvaris Jackson never panned out, the Vikings also employed Brad Johnson (38 years old in '06), Kelly Holcomb (34 in '07) and Gus Frerotte (37 in '08) as starters. Jackson and a then-28-year-old Brooks Bollinger in 2007 were the only two quarterbacks under the age of 30 who started for Childress.

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