January 25, 2010

Brett Favre Is Still a Winner

The Saints-Vikings NFC Championship game yesterday, while not exactly a paragon of defense and ball security, was certainly action-packed and dramatic. A lot of postgame analysis and Monday morning quarterbacking is assigning blame for the Vikings’ loss on QB Brett Favre, primarily because of his interception in the final seconds of regulation which deprived the Vikings of a shot at a long (55 yd.) field goal to win. According to this line of argument, Favre’s INT led directly to the Saints’ win in overtime.

This argument oversimplifies matters greatly. Certainly Favre’s INT was a critical error, but it was hardly the only factor leading to the Vikings’ loss. The Vikings also had three fumbles, including two within the Saints’ 10 yard line. Immediately prior to the play, the Vikings had a 5 yard penalty for 12 men in the huddle, which is inexplicable given that the Vikings had called a timeout. Without that penalty, a simple run up the middle for 2 or 3 yards would have left the Vikings with a 47-48 yard field goal attempt; hardly a sure thing (particularly given the rampant postseason kicking woes around the league), but certainly makeable in a dome a decent percentage of the time. Once in overtime, the Vikings’ defense gave up enough yards to allow the winning field goal. So, there was certainly plenty of blame to go around, and maybe just a little credit for the efforts of a pretty talented Saints team.


What gets lost in the argument is the underlying question of whether the Vikings would even have made it to the NFC title game without Favre. Much as it pains me to admit as a Packers fan, Favre’s performance this season is arguably his best ever. Comparing his season stats for this past regular season to his years with the Packers, Favre had:
  • His best QB rating (107.2; his usual range was 85-95)
  • His fewest INTs (7, well below his usual range of 15-23)
  • His best completion percentage
  • His third most yards passing (4,202, only 211 yds. off his career high)
  • Tied for his fourth most TDs (33, only 6 off his career high)
On top of his individual performance, Favre enabled the Vikings to win 12 games and get the No. 2 seed in the NFC, along with homefield advantage against the Cowboys. Can anyone seriously argue that the Vikings would have had as much team success with Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at QB? The Vikings may not have had such a strong QB performance since the glory days of Fran Tarkenton several decades ago.

I’ll be the first to admit Favre is an egotistical diva. But these days, most star athletes fall in the same category. Favre’s repeated retirement/unretirement dance is tiresome, as is the constant sports announcer worshipping of his “gunslinger” approach to the game. But despite all his foibles and flaws, Favre came to play every game; he was the epitome of a competitor. In fact, many of his INTs or bonehead plays came more from trying too hard to win, to manufacture a play on the run, to will a pass to work. That will to do all he could for his team is what made Favre a winner. It’s what made the Packers a winning franchise again, and what won them another Super Bowl title (with a big assist from Reggie White). It’s what changed the Vikings this season from another middle of the pack team to a serious title contender stopped one excruciating play short of the Super Bowl.

So, all you Vikings fans, I understand how it feels to see your postseason dreams crushed by a Favre INT. But, when you signed up for the Favre Express, you knew you were riding a QB who would push the edge to win, usually with solid success, sometimes with spectacular plays, but also occasionally in a flaming disaster. You simply can’t have Brett Favre the winner without Brett Favre the ticking timebomb; without that edge—that will to win—you would only have another QB with a strong arm who could do everything but help his team win.

In other words, you would have Jeff George. And you already know how that experiment turned out.

6 comments:

  1. While, dear Grange, most of your post is right on. Here is the thing:

    For those of us that hate what Favre is, getting all the way to the doorstep of the Super Bowl and then literally giving it away when it matters most - is the better than if he would have failed miserably in the regular season.

    His on-again, off-again act with the Packers wore thin to the point he was compromising the franchise and they finally had to cut ties. His true ugliness in the locker room exposed in NY, he got a chance to attempt to repair (or re-create) the illusion of his feel good image.

    And what did he get out of all of it? A soiled image, a Vikings helmet for the HOF and two of the worst picks in championship game history that cost him two more super bowl appearances.

    Couldn't happen to a bigger d-bag. Hope you enjoyed your extra 30 min of ame. Enjoy your legacy Brett...

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  2. +1 to Santa. ;)

    WinOrDie417 (AVP)

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  3. Santa,

    "...two of the worst picks in championship game history that cost him two more super bowl appearances."

    Even Favre's errors are among the most memorable. Gary Anderson's missed 38 yd. FG in the NFC Championship game in the 1998-99 season was a bigger blunder, but guess which play Vikings fans will be talking about more 20 years fom now?

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  4. I actually felt bad for Gary Anderson on that kick. To be one of the best kickers ever to play the game, then miss that chippy...ouch.

    To your point, that's the funny thing about Favre. All of the heroic stuff or memorable stuff he did right really came at times where not a lot was at stake, it was just about 'him'. The Monday night game after his dad died, the "get back" game against the Packers this year, etc.

    The memorable things he did when it really mattered usually seemed to be errors.

    He's the Barry Bonds of the NFL (probably without the 'roids and bulbus head, but you get the idea).

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  5. You are right about Favre seeming to self-destruct in the biggest moments. Even in the Super Bowl he won, his performance was pedestrian. This flaw will keep him in the second tier of all-time great QBs, behind those who shone in the big moments--Montana, Brady, Elway, maybe Peyton Manning if he wins this Super Bowl. Favre's Super Bowl win keeps him ahead of the group of great talents who just didn't get it done when it mattered most--Marino, Kelly, Fouts--but not by much.

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  6. As a lifelong Vikings fan, I have grown accustomed to post season disappointments - usually in horrendous ways (GA's missed field goal tops the list, but getting crushed 41-0 by the Giants isn't far behind). This game was just another example of the Vikings imploding in a big game. I cannot blame Favre for this loss. He threw some bad INTs, but he also threw some fantastic passes to put the Vikings in position to win. He didn't fumble the ball away repeatedly like the other Vikings "superstars" did. If AP doesn't give the ball back after the turnover inside the 10, the Vikings possibly aren't in a position for Favre to have to will the win with a bad pass. The Vikings lost this game as a team, and I for one will not blame Favre for the loss. I was against bringing him on for the season, but he obviosly won me over with his play. His efforts in this game were phenomenal considering some of the hits he took (bordering on headhunting IMO).

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