We hate Brett Favre. Now, even those that love Brett Favre have put the onus on him for the Minnesota Vikings' 0-2 start. With panic in the hearts of Vikings fans--like most people in tough times--looked for a scapegoat, blaming the man they so clamored for in the offseason as the reason for such a porous beginning. However, and as much as we hate the decrepit gunslinger, it isn't all his fault.
As one recalls in a serendipitous series of events that played out as if we were all Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, Favre yet again flirted with retirement in the offseason this time due to an injury in his ankle he sustained, we assume, in the NFC championship game which required offseason ankle surgery. Was is something that was serious enough to merit such a consideration? Sure. Was it moreso a way in which Favre could garner the unnecessary attention he takes himself to deserve and to bilk Vikings owner Ziggy Wilf out of millions of dollars? Most definitely. Although this it is irrelevant to the Vikings' play over the past two weeks, it is only seemingly so. Given that Favre had major surgery, it is likely that he would missed a large part of the preseason. And the snaps he'd receive in the preseason would be largely insignificant, given that most starters, especially older ones, play nary over a quarter; a modicum of time in the larger scope of a game. Of course, what might affect an offense's success is some sort of cosmic relationship between the quarterback and his receivers, something we should not put a whole lot of stock in; however, even if Favre reported on time, he would not have been in a position to run drills until late August. Hence, it is expected that he would struggle through the first few games; a surprise to only those that really do not follow football, which is, surprisingly, the people that analyze it for a living.
Let us fast-forward to the game from yesterday. Favre completed 61 percent of his passes for 225 yards and 3 interceptions. With the exception of one interception--a badly under thrown ball that showed Favre's limits as a passer and his age--the other were two to some confusion about the routes on either his part or on the receiver's end. Had he been available to practice earlier some of these would surely not have been thrown, despite Favre's well-documented penchant for throwing ridiculous passes at time, an all too often gut-wrenching feat. And then, of course there was the fumble in the endzone in which Favre was hit while in the process of throwing the ball--a call that could have been ruled as an incomplete pass as much as a fumble and the difference maker in the score. The fumble was, as usual due to a protection breakdown on the offensive line. Still though, he threw for 225 at a 61 percent clip. Not a bad showing, and it does not appear that he misses Sidney Rice all that much.
What enhances and feeds the justification for beating up on Favre's play is the ridiculous and inconsistent play calling by Brad Childress who has demonstrated that he has a mild form of offensive amnesia. Childress falls in love with certain general plays, either pass or run, at certain times of the game, which make him forget who his reliable weapons are and how to utilize them. In particular, we can focus on instances in which he has both underutilized Adrian Peterson and over-utilized Adrian Peterson--long forgetting that the best way to deconstruct a defense is to keep them guessing by mixing up play calls. Two weeks ago, Adrian Peterson had a dominant first half on the ground only to be forgotten about in the second half in its entirety. Yesterday, he was used exclusively in a drive to the Miami Dolphins' two yard line, only to be stuffed four times, with nary a sense that a pass play might catch a tired defense off-guard and forgetting completely that redzone cash-machine Visanthe Shiancoe is on the team. Shiancoe, another point on which the playcalling ought to revolve until Rice and Percy Harvin get healthy, has only ten receptions in this young season and deserves more attention. Not to mention that Greg Camarillo is getting very few pass plays in his direction; a mistake highlighted by the number of difficult catches he has already made on the field this year and with the aforementioned Dolphins the year before. This isn't a new thing with Childress. Oh, and did we mention that the Vikings went for it on fourth down? Did we need to? Childress went for it on fourth down four times in the game. including a completely boneheaded decision to go for it on the opening drive in the first quarter, only to be burned deep by Brandon Marshall and the arm of Chad Henne highlighting a soft spot in the Vikings' defensive attack. If the Vikings defensive backs were in better shape, we might be talking about a 2-0 start.
Certainly, this does not help Favre. Childress does him no favors and this has been highlighted in the past two weeks because they are playing a tougher earlier schedule. However, should Vikings fans and Favre-aholics panic? No. Their schedule is tough, but they need to work off the rust and they need some healthy defensive backs. Really what they need is for Childress to use his brain and not his substantial football gut to call a game.