Brett Favre's Injury Will Force Brad Childress To Make a Difficult Decision

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Brett Favre's Injury Will Force Brad Childress To Make a Difficult Decision
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
Vikings' head coach Brad Childress

Brett Favre has had a legendary career and is a future first ballot Hall-of-Famer. He holds most NFL career passing records, including passes attempted, passes completed, passing yards, passing touchdowns and interceptions.

The most incredible stat though is that Favre has started every game since he made his debut on Sept. 20, 1992.

To put this streak of consecutive games started into perspective, Percy Harvin, who is now catching passes from Favre, was 4 years old when Favre's streak started. This streak has lasted for so long that we as fans just take it for granted that when Sunday comes along, Favre will be the guy at quarterback.

The difficult question is: Is it time for Brad Childress to end Brett Favre's consecutive games streak?

Favre's 2009 season might have been the best of his career, both in terms of passing statistics and late game heroics (the game winning pass to Greg Lewis certainly comes to mind).

The Vikings, led by the excellent play of Favre, advanced to the NFC Championship game and were within a couple of plays of their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1976 season.

After the magical season, Vikings fans everywhere hoped that Brett Favre would return to give the Vikings another chance at a Super Bowl.

While there was concern in the offseason that an injured ankle which required surgery would hurt Brett Favre's performance in 2010, most Vikings fans didn't even think twice about it.

After all, this is the "Iron Man" we are talking about, as well as the same man who rebounded from surgery on his throwing arm in the 2009 offseason to have a career year.

The 2010 season has been a huge struggle for both Favre and the Vikings. In three of the Vikings four losses this season, the Vikings opponent has scored a defensive touchdown off a Brett Favre turnover. Those three losses came by a combined 17 points.

The turnovers have destroyed the Vikings in close games against playoff-caliber opponents when the Vikings had a chance to win.

Now, Brett Favre has re-injured his ankle, giving Brad Childress the biggest decision of his coaching career: Should Childress start Tarvaris Jackson instead of Favre?

The Vikings have a good enough team to win football games without exceptional play from the quarterback position. Their defense is ranked sixth in total defense and 11th in scoring defense.

In fact, if you exclude defensive touchdowns, the Vikings are allowing fewer than 16 points per game. Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing yards per game and has not had a single fumble through six games.

Remember that this is a football team that went 10-6 and won the NFC North the year before they signed Brett Favre.

Huge passing numbers aren't needed for the Vikings to win, but eliminating costly turnovers is.

Before I continue, please note that I am not making the insane claim that Tarvaris Jackson is or ever will be on par with Brett Favre in terms of playing ability. When Favre is playing at his best, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. However, such has not been the case this year.

Benching Brett Favre in favor of Tarvaris Jackson does a couple of things. First, it lets an injured player have some time off in hopes that he will be healthy enough to be effective later in the season.

Second, it serves as motivation to other players in the locker room by saying that nobody is above the team. If the legend himself who has started nearly 300 consecutive games can be benched for poor play, certainly an unproven starter needs to play better in order to keep his job.

This could be the same effect that benching Donovan McNabb during the 2008 season had for the Eagles, who made it to the conference championship game after a 5-5-1 start. 

Also, benching Favre gives him that extra motivation to show that he is still the top five quarterback we saw in 2009. If Favre does play the way he did in 2009, it is not too late for the Vikings to make the playoffs in a year where the NFC as a whole is struggling.

Don't go too crazy with the idea of benching Favre: This decision is as far from a clear-cut move as you can have. Brad Childress has done everything imaginable to put Brett Favre on this football team so that Favre can lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl championship.

By benching Favre when Favre is willing to start, Childress might inadvertently send the message that he is doubting his decision to bring Favre back to the team.

Another problem is that nobody knows how Tarvaris Jackson will perform if he does start. Jackson showed some promise toward the end of the 2008 season, but hasn't been given a chance to build on that success.

He has also had a year and a half as a backup to a future Hall-of-Famer, and now has Randy Moss and Percy Harvin. The potential is there for Jackson to be successful, but at the same time he is still far from a sure thing.

If the Vikings coaching staff doesn't think Jackson can handle the starting job, Favre might be made the starter even if he is a liability.

The final problem is the consecutive starts streak. Favre's streak currently sits at 291 games. If he starts every game for the remainder of the season, he will make it to 301 consecutive starts.

Nobody wants to be the head coach who stops a record like that just short of 300 games, which makes an already difficult decision that much harder.

Now, I am aware that the response to this last point will be that a coach should put the interest of his team ahead of a player's individual record. I do agree that this should be the case.

However, this will likely be the exception because of the magnitude of a record like this. Most players never start in 300 games in their entire career, yet Favre can make it 300 in a row.

The decision that Childress makes within the next couple of days will be one of the biggest decisions of any coach this season. The Vikings were expected to be one of the top contenders in the NFC, but now sit at 2-4.

The outcome of Childress could either save or finish the Vikings season, and ultimately Childress' job.

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