In His Defense: Five Reasons Why Brett Favre Isn't the Real Problem in Minnesota
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Let's get this started off right. First of all, Brett Favre hasn't played well. Yes, he probably hurt himself and his team by coming back to the team late. And yes, he hasn't looked like the same guy who shook the NFL world to its core in 2009.
This isn't an apology for his poor play. He threw three interceptions in Week 2, and overall has only been able to lead the Minnesota Vikings to 12 points on the season (missed PAT) by his own merit.
However, there's more to it than his awful numbers to start the season. Here's a breakdown of the real reasons why the Vikings look more like the Detroit Lions, rather than a strong Super Bowl contender at the moment:
Note: This list is in no particular order
1. The Play Calling
It's no secret that Brad Childress isn't the best or most consistent play-caller in the world. In Week 1, rather than roll with an effective Adrian Peterson, he stopped running the ball in the second half, and Minnesota failed to score any points in an eventual 14-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
In Week 2, he made up for this, smashing Peterson into the ground with carries on a very impressive drive to Miami's goal-line. He took all of that success away, however, with four straight rushing attempts, as Miami stopped Peterson at the one and held on for the win.
He was too conservative in Week 1, and then he switched it up in the second half. The in Week 2, his conservative calls actually were about to lead to win, and then they ended up being once again much too conservative.
True, Favre wasn't on top of his game, but as Herman Edwards put it: "You play to win the game." Childress didn't live up to that phrase on Sunday, and didn't give his $20 million quarterback a chance to redeem himself on a pivotal drive late in the game.
Whether it's muffing punts, failing to gain separation, dropping passes, or running short on plays, Berrian is simply not living up to his label as a starting NFL wide receiver.
Many point to Week 1, when Favre barely looked to Berrian. See above comments for a fantastic reason why. This is not the same guy who burned corners for deep plays two years ago. His speed and attitude just isn't there anymore, and he doesn't fit this offense.
On top of that, Berrian was supposed to be Minnesota's most "reliable" punt return man, and he's already muffed (dropped) three punts (although no lost fumbles) in two weeks. We don't even have to get into the fact that he's fairly useless as a return man at this point, but when you can't even bank on the guy catching the punt half the time, you know you've got a problem.
Quite honestly, it's amazing how anyone can refute Favre's lack of confidence in the guy. In Favre's first extensive preseason action, Berrian popped an easy slant (that would have been a touchdown) into the air, where Seattle's Earl Thomas plucked it out of the air and returned it for an easy 80+ yard touchdown.
Just this last week, Berrian failed to adjust and come back to a pass, and it was picked off at the goal-line. Favre claimed he put the ball exactly "where he wanted it", and Berrian simply let it happen. Of course, this can go both ways, but this and so much more should convince even the biggest Favre/Viking hater that this guy is not starting material.
3. Percy Harvin
This is the second guy (not named Sidney Rice) that was supposed to step up in Favre's second year with the team. Instead, he missed just about as much camp and preseason action as Favre, and has been slowed by nagging injuries.
Because of this (and Favre's missed time, as well) their chemistry and timing was way off in Week 1. Then in Week 2, Harvin simply didn't step up in moments where he had a perfect chance to show everyone he was the top receiver on this team.
Favre threw a very catchable (if not perfect) bullet pass to Harvin at the goal-line in the first half of Week 2's game against Miami (which would have almost certainly resulted in a touchdown), only to see Harvin fall on his back and pop the ball into mid air (a la Berrian), and see it intercepted.
Harvin brings amazing speed and play-making to the table, but it's mind-boggling as to where it exactly it is after two weeks of the 2010 season.
4. The Offensive Line
The line has done an OK job protecting Favre, but has crumbled in bad situations, two of which led to turnovers in the first two weeks. In week 1, Favre was sandwiched by two defenders after poor protection, and then threw a misguided pass that was intercepted. There is no denying that interception was completely Favre's fault, but this was a classic example of the inconsistent protection he has received in the first two weeks.
This problem arose again in Week 2, when Favre tried to get rid of a pass in the back of his own end-zone, but the ball was hit from behind as he threw it.
On top of pass protection, the offensive line has been spotty in certain situations with the running game, as well. They mopped up on Miami in the second half with the rush attack, but then failed to punch it into the end-zone for the go-ahead score with four tries from inside the 10.
5. Sidney Rice
I don't want to kick a guy while he's down, but it's amazing how little attention this guy gets for waiting so long before having surgery.
Rice could have had surgery at anytime during the off-season, and he would have been ready for Week 1. Few people can understand his motives entirely (new contract, testing the injury, etc), but he had visited with several doctors, and came up from every sit-down knowing that he could not (or should not) play in 2010 without surgery.
If Favre was selfish for not showing up to camp sooner, Rice was either selfish or foolish for waiting so long to get his injury taken care of.
In the end, these first two losses are going to hang on Favre's shoulders. People point to the turnovers, 19 total offensive points, and an 0-2 start.
The numbers are what they are, and the Vikings haven't won a game. In fact, Favre was without any magic on two late drives in both games, when he could have won the game, but failed to.
However, the point of this article is that many of Favre's issues this season have been fairly over-blown. Some bring up the missed time, chemistry, and the poor decision-making. Others say he looks old or uninterested.
The truth is, you could say that for just about every player on this team, outside of Peterson, who has looked very much alive and willing to carry the load in both games. Ultimately, even his drive to win hasn't been enough, as the rest of his supporting cast hasn't done anything, and the coaching staff isn't pulling their weight with play-calling and decision-making, either.
Favre needs to be better. There's no question. But there's room for hope and optimism. Favre actually played very well in the first half of both games, despite totaling just nine scored points in both first halves. His drop-off in both games came in the second half, where his confidence in his receivers severely drops off, as well as the actual performance of his receiving corps.
The play of the receivers has been so bad, in fact, that the Vikings have been tied to trade rumors involving disgruntled San Diego receiver, Vincent Jackson. Yes, it's so bad, that Minnesota is contemplating bringing in a guy with a bad attitude and severe money starvation. That, and even when Jackson would be available, it could possibly be too late.
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