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Brett Favre set to struggle in Minnesota

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Neil Reynolds | 15:20 UK time, Thursday, 10 September 2009

All eyes will be on legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre as he makes the second comeback of his career when the Minnesota Vikings take on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Even with a limited period of preseason work under his belt (Favre conveniently decided to return to the NFL after the Vikings had completed most of their miserable summer training camp), I expect the future Hall of Famer to put up big numbers against the woeful Browns.

But I'm more concerned about where and how Favre - who spent the bulk of his career as a folk hero in Green Bay - finishes the season, rather than how he starts what should be a fascinating campaign.

Favre is being described as the final piece in the Vikings' Super Bowl jigsaw. I just don't see that. Here is a guy who will turn 40 in October and someone who admitted earlier this summer that he was too tired to consider a return to the NFL because he was worn out after throwing passes to college kids.

The 2008 campaign was a perfect example of Favre starting strong for the New York Jets, looking pretty good at times in the middle of the year and then falling away badly after he tore his rotator cuff. In his final three games - against Buffalo, Seattle and Miami - Favre threw two touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He posted miserable passer ratings of 61.4, 48.7 and 45.1.

Favre joins his third team in as many years
Brett Favre has come out of retirement for the second time to pull on a Vikings jersey

Such late season fades have become normal - it was also the case in his final three years in Green Bay. Given his advancing years, why should we think Favre will close the regular season in better form against Carolina, Chicago and the New York Giants? Those are three tough defences.

I was chatting with Tampa Bay Buccaneers strength and conditioning coach Kurtis Shultz in August and he was telling me it's not enough to solely have players maintain their strength and fitness in today's NFL. He insists it is vital that players peak as the regular season closes and the playoffs begin.

I cannot see Favre reaching his physical peak in January. And if he does break down and the Vikings have to go back to former starter Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels, who they traded for in the off-season, how motivated will either man be to impress head coach Brad Childress?

Favre does have a good supporting cast and a strong offensive line. But I see his 19th season fading to a disappointing conclusion rather than providing a storybook ending to what has been a glittering career.

Game of the week

It's our first week in the BBC 5 live sports extra studio on Sunday and we'll be focusing on the San Francisco 49ers' visit to the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cards enjoyed an amazing run to last year's Super Bowl and almost won it - but I don't see a repeat this year. Arizona has an exciting passing attack led by quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald but they still have defensive concerns.

The Niners are a physical team being built in the image of their head coach, legendary former linebacker Mike Singletary. They will be fairly competitive this year and Frank Gore can do some damage at running back, but, for now, they do not have the offensive firepower to keep pace with Arizona.

Prediction: San Francisco 16 Arizona 31

You can catch Neil commentating live on the 49ers-Cardinals game from 2115 BST this Sunday on BBC 5 live sports extra.and the BBC Sport website (UK users only)


  • Comment number 1.

    I think your right Neil; Favre after last year should have let the NFL go and the Vikings should have shown commitment to Jackson.

    Jackson's performances last year werent that bad considering he is only a 2nd year starter and came through injury worries of his own. He also led to the Vikes to a 3-1 finish to secure the play-offs.
    I think if the Vikings do succeed this year it will be down to Peterson the offensive line and the defense rather than Favre.

    No doubt Favre will start well and the hysteria created (mainly created by Tim's weekly fumble) will be unbearable.

  • Comment number 2.

    You want hysteria? I'll give it to you tomorrow in that case. Brett Favre's comeback is going to be sensational. (And by sensational, I mean totally underwhelming of course.)

  • Comment number 3.

    Either way, it won't be any worse than going with Tarvaris "Can't Play" Jackson or Sage "Useless" Rosenfels, it's the best the Vikes can do in the circumstances.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is a subject I feel strongly about, even as a Giants fan.

    Favre retired at the right time 2 years ago. Then he came back and the whole world could see it was a mistake, except Favre himself and obviously the Vikings as well.

    I simply cannot believe they went for Favre, he's tarnishing a great career with a few years playing past his best, so that when he finally retires for good it will have been a damp squib of a last couple of years.

    Strahan retired at the right time, while he was still a top player. It's just a shame Favre didn't follow his friends example...

  • Comment number 5.

    Couldn't agree more about Favre. I would like to see him benched towards midseason in a move that would see Jackson, who looked solid when he came back to the starting lineup last year, take the conn.

  • Comment number 6.

    Vikings should have signed up Vick. Him and Peterson in the backfield. unstoppable.

  • Comment number 7.

    I lived in Appleton for 10 years and love Brett, I have 3 issues, 1) GB are idiots 2) Brett tore rotator cuff, no injuries this year 3) back-up QB's not trying, they're competing with each other, give me a break

  • Comment number 8.

    I remember as a young child in San Diego seeing the woeful Chargers quarterbacked by some guy named Unitas. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was a very sad end to a great career.

    At least Favre is playing for a decent team (though I agree that it's not a likely Super Bowl team), whereas the Unitas-led Chargers were something like 2-12.

    The difficult scenario for Childress isn't where Favre plays well for much of the season and fades down the stretch, as in NY last year, but where he doesn't play well and ought to be benched. I'm not a Vikings fan, but I hope that doesn't happen. It would be painful to see.

  • Comment number 9.

    Favre could be the piece of that jigsaw, but not if they intend using him as a #1 QB.

    Jackson for me should still be the main starter. He is young and will learn a hell of a lot from Favre this season. Play Favre every 3rd or 4th game to keep him relatiely fresh and as long as he avoids injury he should do OK. In the meantime like I said the others will learn from him and he will sell lots of merchandise.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Either way, it won't be any worse than going with Tarvaris "Can't Play" Jackson or Sage "Useless" Rosenfels, it's the best the Vikes can do in the circumstances."

    I fail to see how giving the starting QB job to a 40 year old vet, coming off surgery, who threw 22 interceptions last year is the best the Vikings can do.

    How is developing and putting confidence in Jackson worse?
    At the end of this season Favre will be gone, Childress will be gone and it will be left to the new coach to try and see if Jackson has any confidence left after spending the season behind a has-been*.

    * I will make it known i loved Favre when he was at GB but this isnt the Favre I grew up watching.

  • Comment number 11.

    I signed up just to comment on this. Are you guys all mad? Okay, Favre was probably in better shape 5 years ago but the Vikes have a quality team. They have a top 5 defence, the best rush attack and, until recently, no QB.

    The opposing coaches now have to spread their defence to deal with the Favre. Last year they focused only on Peterson and Taylor and pressed high, leaving limited coverage in the backfield because they knew that the QB was probably not going long.

    Favre will free up Peterson to have his best season. They will have a number 1 rush offence, a top 10 pass offence - with 2 good WR's and Shiancoe will have a big season at TE. They'll have a top 5 defence, mediocre special teams and, when all is said and done, they each might just have a new gold ring in February.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Neil,

    First off, just to say I've enjoyed both of your articles so far, thanks a lot.

    Agree with everything you say about Favre. He's a distraction, a has-been and the best thing that can happen for the Vikings is he gets a minor injury week one against the Browns, Tavaris Jackson coms in, plays well and consigns Favre to the history books - where, in all honesty, he should have stayed two years ago.

    Think Minny signing him smacks of a move simply designed to get at their rivals rather than taking their team forward when they should be looking to build on last season's decent performances.

    Before Favre signed I felt Minny had a shot at the NFC. Now, I don't.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think its fair to say this isnt the Favre of 5-10 years ago, when he was pretty much the best QB in the league. That said. and as others above have said, he is enough of a presence to make the Vikings opponents respect the pass.

    If all that does is give AP more space to run through, then its well worth the investment. Minnesota have probably the best RB in the league right now, so anything that benefits him one way or the other is worth the investment.

    I wouldnt really pick Minnesota for the Superbowl, but if last year taught us anything, its that anything can happen.

    Of course, that does require Tom Brady to miss another year, which isnt happening.

  • Comment number 14.

    The happiest person from all this should be Peterson. Favre is clearly past his best but he still has game and brings more variety to the Vikings O. Dont think he was the perfect signing (Vick would have been a scary exciting signing) but definitely a good move.

  • Comment number 15.

    As a Packers fan I'm glad to see Favre back in the NFL. The guy's a legend who loves the game and Minnesota will be a better team with him.

    Having said that, I wouldn't trade Aaron Rodgers for any QB in the league this year. With a season under his belt this could be the year he establishes himself as one of the elite Quarter Backs in the NFL. If Favre had stayed with Green Bay it would only have stifled Rodger's development and I think Favre leaving the team when he did was a blessing in disguise.

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't think all eyes will be On Favre, I think they'll be on Vick.


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