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Daily mailbag: Jackson or Rosenfels?

On the day we're discussing the ascendance of Brett Favre's replacement in Green Bay, Sean of Iowa offers this concern about the order of Favre's backups in Minnesota:

It is obvious to everyone who has watched Vikings' preseason games that Sage Rosenfels is light years ahead of Tarvaris Jackson, yet Brad Childress won't admit he is a lost cause. If he cuts or trades Sage and Brett gets hurt. ...

Let it first be known that, like Sean, Rosenfels is from Iowa. But I don't consider this a case of home-state favoritism. Take a look at the chart accompanying this post. By any objective measure, Rosenfels has had a better -- albeit much more extensive -- preseason. The overall judgment becomes more difficult when considering subjective factors, including the fact that Rosenfels has faced mostly third-team defenses. But the disparity has been so substantial that it's at least worth asking whether Rosenfels could displace Jackson as the Vikings' No. 2 quarterback.

Reporters did just that on Monday, and coach Brad Childress had a clear response. Nope. Asked what he has seen from Jackson to justify unchallenged status on the depth chart, Childress said:

"Right from the first day of training camp, I've seen an evolution. I've seen a growth in Tarvaris. Not that I haven't seen it from Sage. He's been the beneficiary of having that extended time, where he was able to flash. We only kept the [first team] in for that one series against St. Louis [in preseason Week 1]. Obviously Brett was here. I thought that Tarvaris played decently in the snaps that he got against San Francisco. But really it's the day-to-day thing. You can say 'Well, it's about the games.' We give them opportunities based on what we see in practice."

Indeed, early reports from the Vikings' training camp suggested Rosenfels was struggling. And we all know Childress' long history with Jackson and how obviously he wants him to succeed.

Chances are pretty decent that this topic will be moot; Favre hasn't missed a start in 19 NFL seasons. But unlike Jackson, Rosenfels is a proven NFL backup who has some nice passes on his preseason résumé this summer. In previous years, Rosenfels has come off the sideline, replaced starters and won games. That's not to say Jackson couldn't do the same, but Childress has no margin for error if he passes over a proven commodity and follows his instinct on Jackson.

The Vikings, in fact, have a tough decision looming this week. Do they keep Rosenfels as their No. 3 quarterback for the second consecutive season? Or do they trade Rosenfels and pass the job on to rookie Joe Webb?

Removing Rosenfels from the equation leaves the Vikings with no safety net if Jackson falters or is injured. But if Childress has so clearly sided with Jackson, it might make sense to get a return on Rosenfels rather than just bury him on the depth chart.