Dealing with the Brett Favre circus year in and year out became borderline intolerable last year with constant misreporting and Sportscenter, NFL Live being washed out by chatter. Is he coming back? Well???
I would like to mass email ESPN executives with several thank you letters for finally toning down all the ruckus this year, but that would be misplacing my gratification. It is YOU in this consumer driven market that is to thank for saying “enough!” to hearing the same tired story for months on end.
It's been an enjoyable summer being able to passively contemplate what he's going to do and not being bombarded with it every time I turn to ESPN.
The only blip, although it was a major blip, was ESPN's incorrect report on August 5th that Favre was retiring. Multiple sources idiotically reported the story based on a quote. “This is it.” Who are these sources that seem to fabricate the news and what happens to them when ESPN blows up a bogus story? Without a fraction of doubt I was absolutely sure that the news was false, not to mention it soon came out that Favre had not even told coach Brad Childress, something that the coach actually SAID.
I was able to let go of my sudden irritation as the story was retracted rather quickly, but this is not the first time ESPN has been careless with their reporting.
Of much greater importance than my hopeless bantering is the effect that not having Favre would have on the Vikings if a legitimate report ever came to fruition.
Favre's contributions last year were statistically some of the best in his career. Out of his 16-year career, Favre had his best completion percentage(68.4), his lowest interceptions(7), and consequently, his highest QB rating(107.2).
First, lets take a look at the effect that Favre had on the offense as a hole:
2009-Best #'s in their category in the last 5 years
'05/'06-Years without Pro-Bowl and 1st-team All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson
Analysis – Having the skills of Adrian Peterson obviously had a profound effect on the improvements in the offense in 2007 and 2008. The stats are in some cases indirectly related but the offensive numbers do not lie. The Vikings went from 12th in the league in points scored on offense to 2nd in the league in 2009 and the massive increase in yards/game can largely be contributed to Favre which made for a difference of 91 points scored between '08 and '09.
We will now analyze the changes in stats by position based on Favre's lone year with the Vikings against the previous season(2008).
Running Back – Adrian Peterson
Analysis – The Vikings become much more of a pass oriented squad and thus Peterson's attempts went down quite a bit in 2009, forcing down his his total yards from scrimmage. However, Peterson's receptions were the highest of his career and his yards per reception also went up significantly. Favre likes to find his RB's in front of the defense with quick dump-offs and he was able to get Peterson involved in that mentality which kept defenses on their toes.
Receivers – Top Three in Yards - 2009
Receivers – Top Three in Yards – 2008
Analysis – If Tight Ends and RB's were included in the tables, the 2008 stats would show that both RB Chester Taylor and TE Visanthe Shiancoe had more yards and receptions than Sidney Rice, the third most productive receiver. The Vikings totaled 267 receptions in 2008 and followed up with 377 in 2009.
Favre cannot take all the credit due to the influx of skill at the position with Sidney Rice demonstrating dramatic improvements since his first two years in the league and Percy Harvin being introduced as one of the more exciting players in the league in his rookie season. It is extremely unlikely that either of that would have produced anywhere near the numbers they did in 2009 nor would Harvin have received a Pro-Bowl invite. Favre can, however, take full credit for the fact that his ability to spread the pigskin had six players tallying 385 yards or more receiving compared to four in '08.
Tight-End – Visanthe Shiancoe - Last Two Years
Analysis – When Quarterbacks struggle to get creative and find open receivers, they are often forced to find their biggest target in their tight end and that is exactly what happened in 2008 with Gus Frerotte. Frerotte was 37 in 2008 and had only season a season with significant starts once since 2000. Veteran QB's like that that often take the conservative route to maximize efficiency. Still Favre was able to get Shiancoe the ball more and put him up his end zone total. The distribution in Favre's offense is what is of most importance. Favre historically loves his tight-ends and uses them at just the right times. Shiancoe is no different.
The improvement in offensive numbers for the Vikings post-Favre are staggering. One of the greatest effects that Favre has is the abilities to keep the defense guessing with his unpredictability and ability to move in and outside the pocket. The well-catered play-calling by the Vikes allows Favre to play within himself and not to have to try throw the frequent home-run ball like with the Packers and it doesn't hurt to have one of the best running-backs in the league drawing attention. The speed and versatility of his receiving core allows Favre the ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly on slant routes when necessary to make for methodical drives that use up clock and wear down defenses.
When Favre comes back(yes I said it), it is unlikely that he will be able to put up the totals he did last year. But if he doesn't, the Vikings might as well wave goodbye to any changes they have at a championship.