The Vikings' Ship Isn't Sunk Yet...But Is Brett Favre Fizzling?

Michael VichaelContributor IDecember 28, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings sits on the ground after an incomplete pass against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Vikes fans have a history of paranoia.

Longtime fans remember that we were the first franchise to go 0-4 in the Super Bowl.

More recently, disappointing endings to 15-1 ('98) and 11-2 ('00) seasons, as well as losing Randy Moss, have emotionally jolted younger fans.

Some of the more paranoid amongst us point to two terrible, mailed-in games against the Cards and Panthers and the public feud between Brad Childress and Brett Favre as signs the season's done.

Many fans have assumed that we're well on our way to another one and out performance in the playoffs.

Not so fast.

The Feud is a non-issue. Very competitive people in a very competitive environment will have differences of opinion.

As the story unfolded last week, it surfaced that the Panthers game wasn't the first time head coach and player have butt heads this year. This particular incident boiled over because Favre wasn't able to fully control his emotions after a loss.

But it's not the end of the marriage. In my mind, this is a case in which the coach is trying to get the player to focus on winning the war rather than the battle.

Could Childress have gotten his point across more effectively?


Could Favre have spoken with more diplomacy after the game and tried to keep things "within the family," such as how Peyton Manning covered things up yesterday?


But neither act was that egregious. It's not a sign that the team leadership is fraying.

The Vikings did not lose to the Panthers by three TDs because the coach and player weren't all lovie dovie on the was because the home team showed up to play football and the visitors did not.

It is true that teams hitting the postseason in stride have the best chances to go far. December is when teams worthy of championships rise to the occasion.

However, even that cliché isn't set in stone.

Just three years ago, the Colts won the Super Bowl after losing three of their last five regular season games, and last year the Cards finished their regular season dropping four of their last six but were just a historic catch by Santonio Holmes away from winning one of their own.

So it's not the end of the world for the Vikings, even if they don't hit the postseason with full momentum.

The Real Concern

However, there is something that could spell disaster for the season: an end of year meltdown by Favre.

The illustrious QB has faltered badly at the end of three of the last four seasons.

From 2005-08, Favre went into December with an average passer rating of 85. In December, his rating went down to 63.

This year, Favre went into December with a 109 rating. So far, his rating this month is 76, an even steeper drop-off—especially when you consider none of his December games were in Lambeau this year.

Some fans have been calling for a strict pitch count for the aged QB since before he was signed.

It's true that he's thrown the ball too much in a handful of games (45 or more passes in four games this year). But in terms of preserving Favre's overall health, I think the severe restrictions Childress has placed on the old QB's activities during the week were as or more important than the actual games.

But the wear and tear is evident nonetheless.

Could it be that the pitch count limitation hasn't been strict enough?

Or that the uneven pass protection (nine sacks in the last three weeks) has simply worn the old man down?

Do I want my team to beat the Bears tonight? Of course.

But Favre's performance will be a bigger indicator of things to come than the actual outcome on the scoreboard.