Time not on Favre’s side in this comeback
Whether it’s blistered fingers or a torn-up ankle, Brett Favre in concert might not rock the stadiums quite the way he did one year ago.
Who does he think he is, Mick Jagger?
There are more wrinkles on the old codger. And what he did in 2009 was more fairy tale than football season.
Favre had arguably the finest performance of his career at 40. If it wasn’t his finest, it certainly was his most remarkable. And the chances of Favre producing a season as remarkable are not very good.
The Vikings clearly are a far better team with Favre than they were without him. They should have been partying on Hennepin Avenue on Wednesday night. But even they should question if Favre can meet the expectations he created last year.
Favre is unlike any player in the history of the National Football League, so I will not doubt him. But if he’s anything like the tens of thousands of players who went before him, his performance is going to start to deteriorate at some point.
Before the 2009 season, the Vikings were not looking to ride on Favre’s shoulders. He was never sold as Peyton in purple. There was talk that Vikings coaches were trying to change his mentality so that Favre would be more of a caretaker. All they needed, the line of thinking went, was someone who didn’t blow the game.
As it turned out, they needed someone who was much more than that. They needed a savior, and they had one all the way until the Vikings’ last offensive play of the season. That’s when Favre was intercepted by Saints cornerback Tracy Porter, which led to the Saints’ overtime victory in the NFC championship game.
Instead of expecting that same savior, the Vikings probably would be wise to go into 2010 with the same expectations for Favre as in 2009. Anything else could be looked at as a bonus.
If Favre just plays conservative football, avoids turnovers and doesn’t take a lot of sacks, the Vikings should be highly competitive. They might not be 12-4 as they were last year, but they can be close.
With Adrian Peterson and rookie Toby Gerhart, the Vikings should be able to run the ball as well as almost any team. And Favre might need that running game more than ever.
He spent the offseason riding his lawn mower, having his ankle operated on and tossing a football to high school kids. Of course, he didn’t spend the offseason before last season preparing to play football either.
While it didn’t hurt him last year, it might this year. Favre’s young quarterback friends in the NFC North may be gaining on him.
While Favre was living the good life, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford were throwing thousands of passes — literally thousands of passes — to teammates. They were spending hundreds of hours studying playbooks and game tapes and working with coaches, and hundreds more honing their bodies with specially designed workout programs.
They were making themselves better. And they are at the ages — 26, 27 and 22 — where improvements come easily.
Rodgers, Favre’s onetime apprentice, appears ready to join the elite quarterbacks in the league. He did that literally in the offseason, working out with Drew Brees in San Diego in an attempt to improve his quickness, balance and agility using cutting-edge techniques.
Cutler joined forces with perhaps the premier offensive mind of an era when the Bears hired Mike Martz. With Martz guiding him and calling his plays, Cutler is capable of taking his game to new heights.
Stafford, meanwhile, looks like a different player in his second year in Detroit thanks to his enhanced understanding of the Lions’ scheme, according to Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. It also helps that the team has given him some new playmates, including running back Jahvid Best, tight end Tony Scheffler, wide receiver Nate Burleson and guard Rob Sims.
When it comes to Rodgers, Cutler and Stafford, they can say, “Time is on my side.” Favre, meanwhile, at some point may be saying, “Gimme shelter.”