After two years in which his every move was scrutinized and dissected by a mostly hostile public, Tarvaris Jackson has been an afterthought this season. The 4th year quarterback of course, was pushed aside when Brett Favre’s motorcade rolled into Winter Park on August 18.
Despite speculation he’d be traded or released, Jackson outplayed Sage Rosenfels in the preseason and won the back-up job. Now the 26-year-old bides his time watching and learning just in case his number is called.
I caught up with T-Jack earlier today at Winter Park and chatted about his role and career.
DZ: Could you just talk about the season a little bit? Obviously it’s been a little different for you than the past couple of years, being the No. 2 guy. How have you adapted to that?
JACKSON: I had been through it a little bit last year being benched and being the back-up last year. It is a role I am not really comfortable with; something I kind of got experience with last year, but it’s been a different experience this year - we are 7-1 and having a pretty good season. I am sitting back and watching one of the best to ever play the game, what more can you ask for?
DZ: Even though you are not playing, can you still have fun?
JACKSON: Yeah, definitely. It’s always fun. Someone asked me yesterday, “How are you doing up there?” and I was like, “We are 7-1!”. I love winning, but I’d love to be starting also. It’s a situation where you kind of humble yourself and learn as much as possible.
DZ: I remember at Detroit, the second game of the year, you went out on a punt formation (as the up-back), have they talked about using you more creatively, using your athletic ability?
JACKSON: No, after that week that kind of got thrown out. We haven’t run that in a long time. I am pretty much just at quarterback, nothing else.
DZ: Right now you’re the No. 2 guy, but you could be the No. 1 guy at any moment. Not getting the reps in practice, how do you stay ready for that?
JACKSON: Just (by) paying attention, you’ve got to make sure you study and pay attention in practice more so than anything. You can watch film and all that, but you’ve got to see the looks at practice and make sure - practice means pretty much everything. Just watching (Favre) and stuff like that. If you are not, you’ll be in trouble.
DZ: You played well in the preseason this year and looked pretty good in the mop-up duty, how important was it for you to be the No. 2 guy and not the No. 3 guy?
JACKSON: Very important. For me, being the third guy, you are two plays away and the second guy, you are one play away. If I was the third guy I probably wouldn’t have gotten those chances I got earlier in the season getting the mop-up duty. Anytime you can get in there and play, you are happy with it…It says a lot being the back-up guy, the confidence they have in me in case something goes wrong.
DZ: One last thing, you might be a free agent after this year and you’ve had a lot of ups-and-downs here in Minnesota. Is there anything you’d like to let the fans know about how this ride has been for you? Anything in general that maybe they don’t know?
JACKSON: It’s been different for me, a totally different situation. (QB) Coach (Kevin) Rogers was telling me Monday, my rookie year I didn’t know what I didn’t know (laughs). It’s been a roller coaster ride for me but I’ve learned throughout the situation. I am just looking forward to playing again wherever it’s at.