Rogers tutoring JacksonKevin Rogers’ job title with the Minnesota Vikings seems simple enough. Quarterbacks coach. Pretty straight-forward, right? Just coach the quarterbacks and get them ready for the games on Sunday. But to hear head coach Brad Childress, himself a former quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia, describe it, Rogers’ duties extend far beyond simply coaching a position.
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Kevin Rogers’ job title with the Minnesota Vikings seems simple enough.
Pretty straight-forward, right? Just coach the quarterbacks and get them ready for the games on Sunday. But to hear head coach Brad Childress, himself a former quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia, describe it, Rogers’ duties extend far beyond simply coaching a position.
“When you’re a quarterback coach like Kevin, you are a father, confessor, a mentor, a coach,” Childress said. “You’re all of those things and you have to talk about all those things.”
As Rogers enters his 34th season as a football coach, the vast majority of which have been spent with quarterbacks, that has never been closer to the truth.
Rogers is charged with nurturing Tarvaris Jackson, a 25-year-old about to start his second season as quarterback and just three years removed from Alabama State.
If the Vikings are going to fulfill their goals of unseating the Packers atop the NFC North and making a run at the Super Bowl, Jackson is going to have to mature into a capable and steady signal-caller who doesn’t get rattled under pressure and doesn’t lose games with mistakes.
“I’m a little bit older coach. I have kids that are his age,” Rogers said. “I talk to him the same way I talk to my own children, and my kids turned out pretty good. So I think I got good track record.”
Rogers and his wife Betty have three children. The oldest, Kevin, was a quarterback at Villanova and is now a scout with Indianapolis. Middle child Megan played soccer at Notre Dame and is now the coordinator of labor operations with the NFL. Youngest son Ryan graduated from Notre Dame and is in grad school at Syracuse.
Jackson is entering his third season at the most complicated position to learn and comes from a lower level college where he wasn’t exactly schooled in the ways of the NFL.
“I don’t know where I would be right now without coach,” Jackson said. “He has helped me out a lot, put in a lot of extra time with me. Whenever I need something, (want to) watch some extra film or something, he is always there. He has been like a father figure.”
Familiarity has contributed to that progress. They have been together since Jackson was drafted, spending countless hours together in meetings, during practices and while the blitzes are coming from all angles in the games.
“I’m the only thing he’s ever known in the NFL,” Rogers said. “It started when we were looking at him in college. I went down there and worked him out. ... I think there’s a trust factor between he and I, and it’s mutual. He knows that I’ve got a big care factor in terms of what he does, not only as a player but as a person.”
Childress had a similar relationship in Philadelphia with Donovan McNabb. He was there when the Eagles made McNabb the second overall draft choice in 1999 and stood by the quarterback during his early struggles in the league.
“You have to deal with the guy who comes into your office on Monday and is beat up and lost the game, and is trying to make it to the next game,” Childress said. “His confidence is down a little bit. You have to point out errors, but you have to still uplift. So we talk about all those things.”
There was plenty of that last season in Minnesota. Jackson missed four games due to injury and delivered a couple of stinkers that are expected from a first-year starter, including a four-interception day at Detroit in Week 2.
Through all the struggles of last season, Rogers said the most encouraging sign Jackson showed was a resiliency that all great athletes possess.
“He doesn’t get too high and he doesn’t get too low,” Rogers said. “He’s the same guy. He’s not Tiger Woods, but I think he has a Tiger Woods-type mentality. He’s more concerned about his self-improvement and how well he’s doing on a daily basis and that’s something I appreciate.”
Jackson missed the last two games of the preseason with a sprained right knee, but said there “is no doubt” he’ll be ready for the regular season opener at Green Bay on Monday night.
“He’s clearly way ahead of where he was a year ago at this time,” Rogers said. “But that’s got to translate into how he plays under real guns.”