Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

I think everybody knows how I feel about Brett Favre: I'm not a fan. The whole retire/unretire business and what happened in the final five games of last season with the Jets (2 TD, 9 INT, a 2-3 record and a collapse that left the Jets watching the playoffs at home) is reason enough. But when he came back this season, I doubted whether he could play at a high level for 16 games. Boy, was I wrong! Just check out some of these excerpts from my rankings:

(After Week 2) "Those Super Bowl aspirations look to be realistic, as long as Favre doesn't revert back to the quarterback we all remember from last season."

(Week 3) "Brett Favre is off to another hot start (don't forget his 12 touchdown passes through four games last season), but he is far from out of the woods yet. I really wonder when his injury issues are going to catch up to him."

(Week 4) "Brett Favre has that magical feeling surrounding him again after beating his former team. But let's not be so quick to forget last season, where he threw 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in the first four games (he has eight touchdowns and one interception this season). The last 12 games last season: 10 TD, 18 INT. And he is "injured." The jury is still out."

(Week 7) "Brett Favre's mistakes led to points for the Steeler defense, and I doubt this will be the last time this season that Favre's mistakes hurt the Vikings."

If I really wanted to be right, I would've said Favre couldn't maintain elite play for 18 games, not 16. My comment after Week 7 pretty much sums up what happened against the Saints. Favre's throw across his body that Tracy Porter intercepted when Minnesota was on the cusp of field goal range with less than 30 seconds left made Vikings fans cringe. Especially when you have an excellent kicker like Ryan Longwell kicking in a dome.

It would have been a 55-yard attempt for Longwell after a 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty pushed the Vikings back. But what it really did was put the idea in Favre's head that he had to make a play to set up an easier field goal, which just wasn't the case. Ryan Longwell's career-long field goal? 55 yards. All Favre had to do was not lose yardage or turn the ball over to give his team the best chance to win. He didn't.

For all the great things that Brett Favre does, and you saw a lot of them this season, he's a gunslinger. There's a good reason he has been to the playoffs 12 times and won just one Super Bowl. I'm not trying to take anything away from Favre's amazing accomplishments but, especially in today's NFL, you cannot win a Super Bowl without a quarterback who protects the football. Very simply, that isn't Brett Favre's best trait.

Favre promises a quick decision this time around about his playing future, but we've been down this road before so forgive my skepticism. Even if he makes a quick decision, there's nothing to say he won't change it once training camp rolls end and he gets that "itch."

His teammates seem to think he's done, but it's interesting how differently he's leaving two places in two seasons. After he left the Jets, many players were vocal in blaming Favre for the team's collapse from 7-4 and leading the AFC East to 9-7 and out of the playoffs, against sub-par competition nonetheless. Favre was very aloof and never really was "one of the guys," with rumors surfacing that he had his own separate office.

This season, his teammates loved him. Unlike last season, when he was traded to the Jets, he actually wanted to be in Minnesota. He wanted to be there last season, too, and it showed in his play. This year's Favre was on the same page as his teammates and seemed well-liked around the locker room. He definitely learned his lesson from last season.

Well, he learned one lesson: make nice with your teammates. The lesson of not making crucial mistakes at inopportune times, like he has done throughout his career? Not so much. I hate to say it Vikings fans, but I told you so.


  1. I think you're barking at the wrong dog here.

    Where's the hate for Brad Childress completely botching the clock and play calling at the end of the game? With a minute left, 2 timeouts and moving the ball well on the reeling Saints Defense, he decides to call two conservative runs for no yards, burns a timeout, fails to give his players their proper assignments which caused that inexplicable 12 men in the huddle penalty, and pushing an already long field goal even farther back.

    For argument's sake, let's just take that penalty out of the equation, since it's damning enough as it is. If Childress' plan all along was to settle for a long field goal (which it appears it was), why would he burn 45 seconds off the clock and then call a time out? Did he have a sudden change or heart? Why even put your team in a Third and Long situation anyways? Following the 2nd Down run, shouldn't he of just run the clock down to 3 seconds and try the long field goal there? Better yet, why not use that final minute and timeouts to keep being aggressive and get it to a more manageable 40 yards or less FG? The Saints were on their heels at that point, the timeout just allowed them to regroup and get proper defensive package in there.

    Now after the penalty it's up to a 56 yard field goal. If I'm Brett Favre, you're damn right I'm going to try and make a play there to get it closer. Since when is settling for any kick over 50 yards at the end of the game a good idea, let alone in a hostile environment? Because that's exactly what Brad Childress resigned himself and his team to do there. You know what other coach was notorious for pulling that conservative garbage? Dick Jauron.

    Is it true that Favre's decision to force a throw across the field reckless? Yes. Reckless isn't even a strong enough word for it. But his coach's gutless and indecisive decisions during that final minute put Favre and his team in an impossible situation. It was just as big of a cause for the loss as the interception itself.

    The ship was already taking on water. Favre just went down with it.

  2. Maybe Childress knew what would happen if he put the ball in Favre's hand, and the penalty was about the only reason he was forced to let him try and make a play?

    You're right though, bad clock management by a bad coach. You know why Childress went and picked Favre up from the airport before the season? Because he knew without Favre, he wasn't a good enough coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl, or even the NFC title game. He'll be a coordinator again in no time.