Well, we're only one rotator cuff from Sage …
It's not the fact that he hates training camp that bothers me. Brett Favre could show up in week eight and be fine. It's not so much his whiney act or the will-he-or-won't-he-he-will or the rampant speculation on his effect on locker room chemistry either. It's that small, tiny, little tear in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder that has me worried. John Elway played the last two years of his career without a tendon attaching his biceps to his humerus. However, if the shoulder goes, he goes, and so go the Vikings.
Every time I break down the Vikings in my head or go over their roster, every urge to do a position by position breakdown seems futile and pointless because the one position on the field that can get them over the top has been an absolute mess all through the off-season and has been compounded with this silly infatuation with Brett Favre. Yes, he can still manage a game, run a huddle, and cry on command, but this team needed to make a bold move and could have gotten Jay Cutler and instead held out for a 39-year old quarterback who has trouble deciding what pair of shoes to wear. I know itt's beating a dead horse, but so is bringing back Brett Favre.
From a fan standpoint, it's sort of cool to see Favre lacing them back up, but while he can go out and probably go 17 for 29 and 220 yards with a touchdown, his days of engineering 350-yard games and “chucking the ball around” and “playing a little pitch and catch” and “having some fun” have been over for a long time. Even during his big comeback year in 2007, his numbers were facilitated by a stripped down offense that was run specifically to reduce Favre's turnovers/ There will certainly be more efficiency on offense if Favre doesn't have acid flashbacks to 1995 and there will at least be one clear cut starter quarterback for the entire season, which is a nice change of pace from Gus Freotte, but the risks here are pretty tremendous.
There's no getting around the media crush this will generate, but an even-handed assessment of what's in store is in order. What the Vikings will get is a guy who will hopefully manage the offense and take some pressure off of Adrian Peterson, who is far and away the best player on the team. Favre should be able to effectively get Bernard Berrian the ball and keep defenses off balance with a lot of play action. However, defenses will be able to bring their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to play to a short passing game because Favre's deep ball is a thing of the past. Experience and poise will have to trump talent here, but Favre's game is severely limited thanks to his age and health problems. Right now, he is closer to Billy Kilmer than to the Brett Favre fans are used to seeing: tough, experienced, and smart, but not able to swing big plays with regularity.
The biggest concern with Favre, beyond injuries, is his penchant for turnovers. He may be listening to his body and dialing down the big throws, but his instincts are still those of a reckless gambler. If Favre can harness his urge to squeeze a throw between two defenders and check down like he did during his last year in Green Bay, the Vikings will be in business. The problem is that Favre keeps talking about how he doesn't want to play unless he feels like himself. That's bad news, because this is 2009, and he needs to check down receivers, eat up the clock, and manage the game. If Favre knows that the offense no longer revolves around him (which is debatable) then the Vikings are halfway home. If Favre actually plays that way, they win 12 games and the division.
I couldn't care less about the effect on Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson. Both of these guys look like major projects considering that Rosenfels has never risen above second string and Jackson seems better suited to running the wishbone. However, one of them will be taking some snaps this year because Favre is not the pillar of health that he was even two years ago because, um, that tiny tear in his rotator cuff is an even bigger risk than his propensity to throw into triple coverage.
There's no doubt that the Vikings just got better this morning and the team's gamble has paid off so far. They got Favre in camp, they got him under contract, and they got the veteran they craved and lusted after for over a year. I just don't know if they were lusting after the right quarterback.
About the Author
Written by Sean Neumann