To Cheeseheads standing on the ledge, don’t jump. For Viking and Packer fans alike who believe Minnesota’s 34-3 thumping of the Dallas Cowboys justifies Brett Favre and ultimately vilifies Ted Thompson—it doesn’t.
What’s more, the team the Vikings beat was a team the Packers handled in the regular season. The Cardinal team that ousted the Packers in the post-season, dominated the Vikings in their match-up just a few weeks ago.
Pressure mounts with every game in the playoffs, but it rises exponentially for this Vikings team this year. They essentially mortgaged the future of this franchise for a chance to win it all either this year or next year, assuming Favre comes back (which is a big “if” right now).
And any loss this year, including a potential trip to the Super Bowl, only multiples that pressure heading into next season, and doesn't justify the risk they took of potentially crippling this team for the future.
Fail in 2010 and then what? Favre retires again, you have no quarterback, no leader, a bad head coach, and no direction.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi, the Green Bay Packers have the youngest team in football, a Pro Bowl quarterback locked up long-term, the Defensive Player of the Year, and a nucleus of young, talented players.
The first of those is most important to remember for fans who bashed the Pack when Favre was traded.
Aaron Rodgers makes anything the Minnesota Vikings do under Brett Favre moot.
You’ve probably heard no player in NFL history has ever passed for 4,000 yards in his first two seasons as a starter until Aaron Rodgers. But did you also know that in his first two years as a starter, Aaron Rodgers is on pace to break Brett Favre’s passing record in two full seasons fewer? He could break Favre’s touchdown record more than a full season sooner.
To break Favre’s interception record? Aaron Rodgers would have to play 28 more full seasons.
Rodgers hasn’t just been good, he’s been great, and not just any kind of great: historically great.
How can you argue Brett Favre would have made the 2009 Packers better than Aaron Rodgers? Favre would have played behind the same leaky offensive line with an older body and slower feet. It was pass-rush that beat the Packers in the two games against Favre’s team, and the defense that let the Packers down in both the Cincinnati and Pittsburgh games.
Flip Brett Favre and Aaron Rodger's uniforms and there’s no way Favre in a Packers uniform can beat Rodgers in purple facing the kind of pressure off the edge the Vikings were able to bring.
So then, what is the harm of letting Favre go two seasons ago when the Packers knew what they had in Rodgers if just a season later the two have battled back to essentially even?
Next year, I'd much rather have Rodgers simply given the probability of Favre waffling this offseason and the chances his body holds up through another 17 weeks plus playoffs in 2010.
The “long-term” vision of Ted Thompson when he traded Favre to New York became successful a lot sooner because Aaron Rodgers played so well.
It would be tough to argue the Vikings are in any better position to make a run at a title next year than are the Packers.
We know what happened in the two meetings this year between the Packers and the Vikings, but those were absolute must-win games for Brett Favre and his team. Favre’s painfully brilliant performance did stick in the face of Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and Packer fans, but he still has little to show for it unless he brings title back to Minneapolis.
But the Packers are just a few small pieces and adjustments from being a favorite to win the NFC, and will be legitimate contenders for as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center while the Vikings grab headlines.
Can the Vikings say the same about Adrian Peterson, who was only slightly above average this year? Minnesota is not a two seed with Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at quarterback. Or are they? No one knows because neither of them got a chance with the team as it’s currently constituted. Any confidence they had was shattered when a playoff team decided to make a major change under center.
Percy Harvin is dynamic and Sydney Rice has put himself in the “elite” category at the wide receiver position, but how good are they without Brett Favre? Sydney Rice was just another guy with Tavaris Jackson throwing him the football.
The enormous pressure of expectations and a minute window of opportunity comes with playing in purple and gold both this season and next.
However, in Green Bay, the Packers need only focus on getting better and making subtle changes. Ted Thompson has put them in position with players like Rodgers, Jennings, Collins, Matthews and Finley to have a run much like that of the 90s where they are the favorite every year not only to win the division, but contend for a World Championship.
The Vikings face another massive overhaul either this offseason or the next.
Ironically, it was the youth many Packer fans clamored couldn’t help the Packers win, that has now put them in position to succeed long-term.
Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to the playoffs in his second season as a starter, and had one of the most spectacular playoff debuts of any player at any position in recent memory.
The truth is, even with his spectacular performance against the Cowboys Sunday afternoon, Brett Favre has been epically bad in the playoffs in his career. He and Dan Marino have lost more times (10) in the playoffs than any other quarterback, and he and Jim Kelly have tossed more interceptions (28) than any QB ever in post-season play.
Nothing the Minnesota Vikings can do, even if they win a title this season or the next, can take away what Rodgers has done, and what the Packers can do for the next 10 seasons while the Vikes are busy scrambling to catch up.
There can be no doubt: Ted Thompson and McCarthy knew better than all of us what they were doing when they gave the team over to Aaron Rodgers and sent Brett Favre packing.
It doesn’t matter whose fault it was that No. 4 left, because he wears a different color uniform now. What matters is the man replacing #4 under center has been brilliant, and he has the next decade or longer to keep proving he was ready to step out of the greatest shadow ever cast over 1265 Lombardi Ave.
By the time he’s done, they might change “1265” to just “12.” That’s how good Aaron Rodgers has been, and can be.
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