Favre energizes Vikes

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Judd Zulgad
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
— Vikings coach Brad Childress has been loath to call Brett Favre the final piece to his team’s puzzle since the quarterback arrived at Winter Park on Aug. 18. But with the Vikings undefeated through four games for the first time since 2003, that seems to be a fitting characterization.

That has been especially true in the past two games as Favre has made the seamless transition from game manager to offensive conductor.

Consider the stats: Favre, who will turn 40 on Saturday, attempted only 48 passes in season-opening victories at Cleveland and Detroit, completing 37 of them for 265 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Solid but far from great figures.

Certainly not stats that would lead you to believe that in his next two games Favre would complete 48 of 77 passes for 572 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. Favre’s three-touchdown, 271-yard performance in a 30-23 victory over his former team, the Green Bay Packers, on Monday night earned him NFC offensive player of the week honors Tuesday.

That came a week after Favre’s 32-yard dart found wide receiver Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone to give the Vikings a last-second victory over the 49ers.

“You can’t quantify that,” Childress said when asked about Favre’s impact on the Vikings’ record. “He’d be the first to tell you it’s a team game. He’s doing his role as the quarterback of this football team and what we’re asking him to do. He’s relaying information. He’s giving little pep talks. He’s cracking people on the rear end. Doing a good job communicating All the things that a quarterback and leader has to do.

“With that said, he came to this team because it’s a good team, defensively, offensively and special teams. I wouldn’t want to pile any more on it than what it is.”

Has he made some great throws? Yeah, he’s made some great throws.”

And he’s a good player. I don’t mean to take that down. But for me to saddle it up and say, we’re 4-0 because of that guy, he wouldn’t want that and I wouldn’t want to say that.”

What Childress does know is the Vikings’ fast start puts them in good shape as one of five teams with 4-0 records. Since the NFL instituted the current playoff format in 1990, 83.9 percent of the teams to start 4-0 (47 of 56) have made the playoffs, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Vikings should have an excellent chance to remain perfect and increase their lead in the NFC North on Sunday—Chicago is a game back but has a bye—when they play at winless St. Louis.

Upon Favre’s arrival, he and everyone else associated with the Vikings made it clear they realized that running back Adrian Peterson was the centerpiece of this offense and that the team’s bread-and-butter was its ground game.

But the key—and the thing the Vikings have lacked in recent seasons—was having a quarterback who could make defenses pay for selling out to stop the run. Obviously, Childress thought Favre could do that and so far he has been right.

The Vikings ran the ball 62 times and attempted 46 passes in the first two games, and Peterson rushed for 272 yards on 40 carries. In the past two games, facing teams intent on slowing Peterson, the Vikings have thrown it 78 times and run it on 57 occasions as Peterson has gained 140 yards on 44 rushes.

Favre’s growing comfort level with his receivers and the fact his right arm again enables him to throw lasers after he underwent surgery this spring to repair a partially torn biceps are two important factors. Of course, that must continue. The New York Jets started 8-3 last season with Favre as their quarterback before winning only one of their last five games as Favre attempted to play through the biceps injury.

“The arm feels great,” Favre said after Monday’s game. “It didn’t feel that great last year. I’m not going to make any excuses; as the season progressed last year, I didn’t make good decisions. I did not play as well as I would have liked, and my arm didn’t feel very good. It feels a lot better, and I feel like it is showing.”

Childress expects Favre will only get stronger.

“I mean I think, as I say every week, all the way through Week 16, he’ll continue to evolve here,” Childress said. “He’s done a great job with our strength guys, and really overall body, it’s not just simply arm strength. He’s in there right now with the strength guys. He only stands to get better and better the more turns, the more reps he has with our players.”

Last updated: 11:48 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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