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It's time to bench Brett Favre

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Neil Reynolds | 11:03 UK time, Thursday, 25 November 2010

Brad Childress paid the ultimate price for his team's poor form earlier this week as he was fired as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

And there were few people in the United States who felt sorry for the departing coach, who clearly put the needs and wants of an individual above those of his team this season.

By allowing quarterback Brett Favre, 41, to skip most of training camp before returning for a second year with the Vikings, Childress blatantly stated that his team would operate with very different rules for its star players.

That must have led to some resentment in the Vikings locker room this summer. While most guys were sweating it out in the unforgiving heat, Favre was biding his time and waiting for the right moment to make yet another heralded return to the NFL.

Brett Favre has had a very difficult season, throwing 17 interceptions and ranking 31st out of all quarterbacks in the league. Photo: AP

Brett Favre has had a poor season, throwing 17 interceptions and he ranks 31st out of all quarterbacks in the NFL. Photo: AP

Tarvaris Jackson spent the early part of training camp handling the majority of snaps from the quarterback position, yet he knew in his heart of hearts that he had no shot at landing the job come opening weekend. He was simply keeping the seat warm for Favre, who showed his age this year by becoming the only playing grandfather in the NFL.

While not all the blame should be placed on Favre's shoulders, it is clear that his return has been an unmitigated disaster. The Vikings have opened the year with three wins and seven losses and they need some kind of early Christmas miracle in order to reach the playoffs.

Their fall from grace has been quite startling given that they were a play or two away from representing the NFC in last year's Super Bowl, falling to the eventual champion New Orleans Saints in overtime at the semi-final stage.

The Vikings are in turmoil now and they have been ever since Favre returned. They sorely missed star wide receiver Sidney Rice (hip injury) for much of the campaign although he is fit again now, they made an ill-advised trade for troubled receiver Randy Moss that never worked out, the offensive line has been shoddy, the defence has taken a step back from a year ago and it was clear that Childress had lost the locker room.

There were whispers coming out of Minnesota that the head man was "hated" and some unnamed players had even resorted to calling him 'Bald Clueless'. With that kind of vitriol leaking out of the Vikings locker room, there was no way Childress could stick around.

The man who inherits this mess is defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Frazier is highly regarded in NFL coaching circles and it is very likely that Vikings owner Zygi Wilf wanted to get him into the top role before this season ended and he left for other opportunities around the league.

Of course, the Vikings have to go through a formal interview process at the end of the year but this is clearly Frazier's job to lose. If he can light a fire under this under-achieving team in the final six games of the year he will win the job for the long term.

And now we will get to find out if Frazier has the steel required to be an NFL head coach because I think a case could be made for sitting Favre down for the remainder of the season. That move, in itself, would probably prompt another retirement because it would be something Favre's ego would simply not accept.

For a start, Favre has not exactly shown himself to be a team player, in my mind. After the most recent loss to his old team, the Green Bay Packers, last weekend, Favre hinted that he would "go home and re-evaluate" his short-term future.

That's hardly the kind of talk you would want to hear from the supposed leader of your team. There have been too many times this season where Favre has sat before the media at post-match press conferences and clearly felt sorry for himself. But he has never fuelled speculation that he would walk out and leave his team-mates to play out the remainder of a lost year.

Favre will not be coming back in 2011. His body is simply too battered and there is too much mileage on the clock.

So where is the harm in seeing if Jackson can be the long-term answer at quarterback? If he is not, at least the Vikings know where they stand heading into the off-season and they can potentially target one of the high-profile quarterbacks coming out of the college ranks (Andrew Luck of Stanford or Jake Locker at Washington).

In the next six weeks, playing Favre does nothing to help the Vikings in terms of their future. At least by playing Jackson you find out - one way or the other - if there is anything to suggest he should be the man in 2011.

Jackson has only thrown six passes for the Vikings this season. Photo: AP

Jackson has only thrown six passes for the Vikings this season. Photo: AP

It would be a bold move to bench a 20-year future Hall of Famer who has thrown for 71,603 yards and 507 touchdowns (both NFL records) and there will be those who roll out the standard line about Favre giving the Vikings the best chance to win.

But does he?

Favre is among the lowest-ranked quarterbacks in the NFL this season (ranked 31st) and he leads the league with 17 interceptions. Add in the fact that he can barely move behind a leaky offensive line and you could definitely make a case for experimenting with the younger and much more mobile Jackson.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that any other quarterback in the league would have been benched by now for playing as badly as Favre.

It has been clear in recent seasons that Favre has great difficulty walking away from the game he loves. Now, that decision needs to be made for him and Frazier needs to call time on a career that was great for many seasons but has simply gone on one year too long.

Week 12 on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

We have a must-win game for two AFC teams on the edge of the playoff race right now as the Oakland Raiders (5-5) play host to the Miami Dolphins (5-5) from 2100 GMT on Sunday.

Both clubs have concerns about their quarterback play at the moment as Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski have failed to shine for the Silver and Black, while Tyler Thigpen has blown hot and cold in relief of the injured Chad Henne.

Henne has been working in practice with a rather bulky knee brace on his injured leg this week but his status for the immediate future remains unclear.

With both teams unsure about their passing attacks, they could turn to the ground on Sunday and there I would have to give the edge to the Raiders. Darren McFadden is enjoying a career season in Oakland, while Miami's running game has all but disappeared in recent weeks. That could be the difference between the teams and lead to an Oakland victory.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Your piece is very informative and your case for Tavaris Jackson is well rounded. It's a no-brainer in my eyes. Sentiment is the only thing which is keeping Favre's streak going as a starter. even then they shud just bench him after first play... I would like your opinion on which rookies you think have performed the best this season. It really was an unbelievable rookie class this year. My top 5 would be Suh, Bradford, Berry,Bryant and Chris Ivory. Although so many more have impressed and are proving to be studs even in their first year.

  • Comment number 2.

    You're absolutely right on this Neil.

    As much as I am a fan of Favre, the time has come, Minnesota's season is done and they must look forward. Saying that, I think talking of seat warming, Leslie Frazer is keeping it warm for Mr. Gruden.

    Superbaby, nice call on the top rookies:
    Suh, definately tops for me (but a little biased as a Nebraska fan)
    Bradford
    Spiller
    Kindle
    BRandon Graham

  • Comment number 3.

    Childress and Favre get no sympathy from me, they were happy living the fairy tale story last year with everyone lauding on how good they were. Well this is a new season and the fairy tale has turned into a nightmare.

    Frazier should go with his instincts and get back to running the football with Peterson, using Jackson for play-action and get quick short passes to Harvin and Shinacoe. Rice coming back will allow them to stretch the field too.
    Favre should restore some pride and respectability and announce his retirement thus allowing Jackson some real game time to show if he can make it.

    Frazier has a tough job to do, the defense for me has big holes in the secondary and possibly an even bigger hole in the D-Line if Pat Williams retires. I believe the Vikes need to go defense in the first round of the draft but if Jackson doesnt show enough then QB could be the major need.

  • Comment number 4.

    JH, I have no doubt that Sergio Kindle is a top prospect for the Ravens but not sure he has played this year has he?

  • Comment number 5.

    The Vikes predicament is pretty squarely on the offense. Low production, the highest number of turn-overs of all teams, and all this whilst possessing perhaps the best running back in the league - who, despite his past history, has not fumbled once this season.

    The Minnesota D has not been too bad either, they are still mean against the run, and only really Aaron Rogers has (twice) managed to get in amongst the secondary, no-one else has thrown for more than 250 yards. What last weekend's Packer passing masterclass, starring a QB and WR mentored by Favre himself, might have done to Brett's esteem... goodness only he knows. It was perhaps that, more than the loss itself, that meant Favre needed to go spend some time with his tractor.

    Rookie of the year... Bradford on offense, Suh or Berry on defense, they've all make a heckuva difference.

  • Comment number 6.

    The defense can't get off the field though. The Vikings are ranked as the 5th worst defense on 3rd down; compared to the 2 previous seasons when they were ranked in the top 5.

    In regards to rookie, i would agree with Eddie George and throw Williams from Tampa into the mix for offense.

    Kindle fell down the stairs before the season so has not even participated in training camp. Hopefully, he will continue his recovery but that whether he even plays again will depend on if the doctors say he can.

  • Comment number 7.

    Favre's run has been miraculous but it was selfish of him to come back for another year. His team needed to move past him and his gunslinger ways also ran totally contrary to the very conservative regimented philosophy of Childress.
    The Vikes did so well last year because Favre still had the magic moments left and he had enough of them to drag them to the Championship game...but...
    As soon as he threw that pick at the end of the championship game to blow it against N.O. he should have realized that another superbowl was not to be.
    He has been both disuruptive and ineffective this season and before he falls out of the 'elite QB' conversation in the league he needs to hang up his boots.
    Vikings to trade up and take Andrew Luck in the draft. Most efficient QB in the draft used to operating at an elite level. It would reunite him with Gerhart but also give him a weapon in Peterson. I wouldn't be surprised if Wilf tried to bring in Harbaugh from Stanford as well.

  • Comment number 8.

    this is a ridiculous article

    1) when favre said he will reevaluate - he almost surely meant his performance. there was no hint that it would mean quitting. mr reynolds you are just parroting innuendo off of ESPN's headlines.

    2) favre was never a lock to play this season, so attending training camp is a moot point. even if he did expect to play, there have always been special rules for special players. favre is 41, its pointless to subject him to the rigors of training camp, and then expect him to hold up through 16 games. and given the way he played last year, he definitely deserved being given a much longer leash than other players.

    3) favre hasn't looked old this season. his mobility is less but he's still more mobile than the statuesque peyton manning and brady. the guy still incredibly has every major tool in his arsenal. he has played badly. but he has been uniformly bad in only 2 games in the dolphins and 1st packers games. he did fumble twice in the jets game, and did throw 3 interceptions in the bears game, but the interceptions and fumbles were freak events (receiver falling down, new center, etc.)

    4) favre hasn't played well, but he has played astonishingly well in spurts reminding us that he still has "IT." i don't understand all the negativity. there are plenty of QBs who have played badly so far (Carson Palmer, McNabb, and everybody's darling Manning had 3 interceptions last week including a game killing int at the end). if you hate favre just come out and say it, don't beat around the bush by making things up like saying he's old, he sucks, he is a bad leader, neither of which is true.

  • Comment number 9.

    I apologise for writing this here; I've seen this blog featured on the front page many a time and have always resisted making the comments below, but now it needs to be said.....

    Why are the BBC insisting on an NFL blog when the most internationally followed American sport is basketball? Just look at the bottom of this page and you will see that the number of comments hardly ever broke 10, except when the blog was about the UK. It just doesn't make sense.

    I'm sure NBA fans on the BBC all over the world would agree that if an NFL blog is justified, then surely an NBA blog is as well.

  • Comment number 10.

    No question the Vikes D isn't as good as it was last year - and not just 3rd down effectiveness, turnovers and sacks have been few and far between - I just wanted to make the point that across the league, it's not a bad D; and I'd argue if they didn't have an offense constantly handing them garbage field position they'd be even better.

    Just noticed that my Pats are at unbelievable 50% on 3rd down effectiveness! I guess that shows where we'd be if our offense had Vike-like problems.

  • Comment number 11.

    Waldovski - I am big fan of the NFL but you are quite right with what you say. It is also (typically) narrow minded and strategically poor by the beeb as they would surely attract a larger, younger audience online.

    Lucid - I also agree. It is typical bandwagoneering, the need to write a piece. An evaluation of the poor form of plenty of other QBs dilutes the impact of this blog substantially.

    I'm not a huge Favre fan actually, but I am a big fan of objectivity and perspective.

  • Comment number 12.

    Neil you are mostly wrong about your opinion of Brett Favre.I do agree with thw faCT THAT HE SHOULDNT SKIP TRAINING CAMP ALTHOUGH I do beleive he skipped this year because he was hurting and didnt know if he wanted to play for Clink. The biggest setback to this team was Sidney Rice getting surgery at the last minute. Isnt it a coincidence that it happened 1-2 wks after favre signed. I guarantee they knew he was having surgery but were worried Favre wouldnt sign. You could see in game one Favre was sick because of his lack of receivers. He also threw many catchable passes that turned to interceptions that were not his fault.They missed many good passes and failed to catch interceptions thrown right to them by opposing quarterbacks. They also should have fired Clink after the Arizona game because they would have had new energy playing CHI and Green Bay. They will kill Washington this week and probably win every game except Philly may be a problem. If this happens they should draft a quarterback and give Favre 1 more year.

  • Comment number 13.

    I am saddened by all the constant crud that is sent out about Bret Favre. What about the rest of the team? While they gave up (some professional attitude) they left him standing, and he carried the game on his shoulders. Looks more to me like some of those fellas need to crawl out of their diapers and grow up. For anyone to knaw on Favre about the K.I.S.S. system doesn't have a clue what Green Bay Football was all about.

    Green Bay Football has always been basic, heads up, knock you on you can, grunt it out football. When the staff at Green Bay changed from basics to the west coast offense, (which they built up for Rogers) it was OK? But you say it's not OK to change an offense around Favre, yet it was Minnesota that pursued him, not the other way around. Stop picking on Favre. Childress knew what he was doing, but lacked the potential to properly motivate, and build the team. The responsibility was his, and not Favre's. Physically, he is still fit, capable, and so what if he's a grandfather. Because so many underestimate him, that becomes his next advantage.

  • Comment number 14.

    What's Gridiron doing on the BBC sports front page?

  • Comment number 15.

    To sum it all up then -

    Childress showed too much preferential treatment to Favre and it cost him his job. Idol worship when the guy was idle in pre season.

    Jackson has a chance to shine but all around him are underperforming misfits. Therefore, can he do a better job than Grandpa Brett.....I think not.

    The Packers have a new superstar quarterback and they are not missing their old No 4. In your early season blog you tipped the Pack for the big show in Dallas. Then and now, I disagree. This team will be ready next year, but Big Bill has the Patriots looking ominous and my tip, the Ravens, still look good. As for my Bears, the Division title that looked a long shot at the start of the season, now looks a decent bet.

    Brett, like the old gunslingers of old, wants to die with his boots on. Childress was ready to let him do that - but there's a new Sherrif in town. Time for a long walk into the sunset methinks.

  • Comment number 16.

    Re: why NFL on BBC, and not NBA - has the NBA held any matches in England recently like the NFL has?

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd point out that the only person who has any faith in Tavaris Jackson as an NFL QB just got fired by Minnesota. Do they still have Sage Rosenfels? I'd say he'd give them a better shot at winning now. I see the point about giving Jackson a shot to see if he's got any future, but I don't think he's going to be a long term option.

    Regarding Frazier, isn't he black? Therefore Minnesota could just appoint him as full time head coach. The Rooney Rule for appointing Head Coaches says you need to interview at least one minority ethnic candidate. Obviously if you appoint a minority ethnic candidate you've interviewed one.

    Rookies, I'd say Suh is easily Defensive Rookie of the Year, and its not even close. He's been one of the best DTs in football.

    Offensive rookie, I'd say Bradford because I'm a Rams fan and biased. Other than that, its the essentially the same team as last year and we've been competitive in every game (apart from Detroit) largely because of him. Other candidates I'd say are Mike Williams in Tampa and Maurkice Pouncey, Centre (Center?) for the Steelers. LaGarrett Blount has been good for Tampa as well (wish the Rams had picked him up).

  • Comment number 18.

    Honestly, the Brett Favre fans are out in force this week. Has anyone actually watched the Vikings this season?
    Favre has been terrible, its that simple. Leading the league in interceptions (17), 23rd in TD's and only Matt Moore has a lower QB rating.... Matt Moore. Alex "now benched" Smith, Jason "in-out-in-out" Campbell and Derek "benched for an undrafted rookie" Anderson have better QB ratings that Favre. He no longer has the mobility that he needs and its showing this season because he is behind a shaky O-Line.

    Now get off your Favre bandwagons and admit that he is done and its time to move on. Favre will go down as a true legend of the sport and doesnt need to tarnish his career for the sake of records.

    Can the Vikings please start handing the ball to AP? The Vikings are 2-3 when AP is handed the ball on 20 occassions or more. They are 1-4 when he gets less than 20 carries.

  • Comment number 19.

    16. At 09:27am on 26 Nov 2010, I like a good hard fact wrote:
    Re: why NFL on BBC, and not NBA - has the NBA held any matches in England recently like the NFL has?

    ------------
    Erm...yes. Last month in fact! Lakers & Timberwolves played at the O2

  • Comment number 20.

    Brett Favre will play the remaining games this season. No head coach wants to be THAT guy who benched Favre after 20 years!

    I have only really started watching NFL this year on Sky & C4, but whenever I have seen the Vikings play, Favre has been awful. I've got to the point where I expect interceptions every time he throws. Give the ball to AP and let him run it. AP is the best offensive player at the Vikings, so build the team around him. All you need then is a QB who can deal with the occasional play consistently!

  • Comment number 21.

    Good man Neil, finally someone prepared to write some truth about Favre.

    The man was a great quarterback however this constant indecision over his future over the last few seasons has really put him down in my estimations. Favre will be now be remembered as somebody who kept trying to play too long. If he had left at the end of last season he could have walked away from the game with his head held high like a true great. However I get the feeling he is more obsessed with keeping his streak of consecutive starts alive than doing what is best for the team.

    I feel it is time for the Vikings to draw a line under what has happened and bring in Jackson and see what he can do, there are also decent quarterbacks like Callan Moore from Boise St and Ryan Mallett from Arkansas which may give the vikings potential in the future.

  • Comment number 22.

    The Vikes definately won't miss him if he goes. As has been mentioned by others before, Childress was probably Jackson's biggest fan at Minnesota, so if they don't put him on, I think we can guess who's going to be busy in the draft this year.

    Favre really should've been benched earlier this year, and as much respect as I have for his career, and how well he has played in the past, it's exactly that, the past, and he should want to end it before he damages his reputation too much. Give Tarvaris a go, and see what he's made of, otherwise the Vikes are going to be an even bigger disappointment than my 49ers!

  • Comment number 23.

    I agree with jamois and as a representative of the Great British youth, rather than seeing blogs such as this, I would prefer videos of the weeks NBA or NFL action. The blogs are fine, however to keep the youth interested it needs to be more interactive.

 

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