Brett Favre(notes) swears this is his final season in the NFL and based on his performance thus far – four picks, two losses, one touchdown, zero victories – it should be. He’s been terrible; looking every bit like a soon-to-be 41-year-old who skipped most of training camp and thought he could just wing it.
But applying absolutes to Favre or his career is dangerous. The same arrogance/confidence that can ruin him – overly daring passes, lack of practice – has also served as his escape route from trouble.
“If I sat here and told you that I knew exactly what we're doing right now I'd be lying,” Favre told reporters Thursday. “A lot of work is left and it will be an ongoing process until we have our unit how we want to go about things and we’re not there yet.”
Favre should’ve taken part in the entire Vikings training camp rather than showing up more than halfway through. Hanging out in Hattiesburg, Miss. until the team begged, pleaded and even sent teammates to haul him back to the Twin Cities was a mistake. He needed to work on his game before the third preseason game.
The Vikings didn’t just accept Favre’s late arrival, it had spent a year-plus empowering him to the point where he felt entitled to it. So the franchise is as much to blame as the QB here. Two games into the regular season, the starter shouldn’t be wondering what the offense is doing. As a result, Favre says he’s pressing.
"It’s hard to be patient and try to get this puzzle pieced together, because we’re doing it as we play," he said. “Next week, it could be different. The following week, it could be different. Who knows? We need to score points. I can play a lot better.”
There’s no going back to August. All the Vikings can do is count on their quarterback to figure it out while the season plays out. It makes the upcoming stretch critical if Favre personally, and the Vikings as a whole, are going to turn around this spiraling season.
On Sunday the Vikings host the Detroit Lions, a team currently on a 2-33 run, 0-18 when facing Favre on his home field and fresh off making Michael Vick(notes) look so good the Philadelphia Eagles blew up their entire master plan for the future.
A victory over the Lions should breed confidence and silence the questions for a stretch. Then comes a bye week that should allow Favre more time to practice, regain timing and find some level of chemistry with his receivers, particularly Bernard Berrian(notes).
“For us to get that first victory, then go into the bye, we’ll be back on track,” running back Adrian Peterson promised.
This is the last chance to reset the season. If it doesn’t happen, if Favre is the same slowed, struggling mess and the Vikings' offense follows suit then you can write Favre’s final year off. After the bye comes a murderers’ row of at New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, at Green Bay and at New England. By the end of that, it’ll be too late.
It’s now or never for the last stand of Brett Favre.
“He’s still got the same release, same physical tools, saw him throw it on the run a little bit the other day,” said Brad Childress, the Vikings coach who has risked the entire season on Favre’s ability to defy decay. “But unfortunately, turnovers are the big story. When you move up and down the field and turn if over twice in the red zone and give points standing back in your own end zone, that’s the difference in the game.”
Whether Favre is capable of regaining his form is open to debate. He argued on a conference call this week that he’s not far away, saying, “Physically I feel about like I did last year. We’re 0-2 and there are a lot of reasons for that. If you want to say it’s partly because of old age, fine.
“I’m about seven, eight months older than when I played the best football of my career.”
Yes, but this was already going to be a bigger challenge than last season, when a much-doubted Favre led the Vikings to a 6-0 start and eventually to overtime of the NFC championship game.
The early schedule didn’t give Favre a chance to ease into the season. In 2009, the Vikings opened with the lowly Cleveland Browns and Detroit. Against the Browns, the Minnesota offense was about Peterson rushing for 180 yards and three touchdowns. Favre was rusty, completing just 14 of 21 passes for 110 yards. It didn’t matter though, Minnesota won 34-20.
The following week against the Lions, he was better, going 23-of-27 for two touchdowns. His passes though were mostly check-downs. The longest reception went 13 yards. The Vikes won 27-13. It wasn’t until later in the season he was bombing it down field like it was the late 1990s.
In 2010, Minnesota opened at New Orleans and then dealt with Miami. The level of competition was a 180-degree turn from last year. Favre needed to win the games, not just manage them.
Compounding matters are question marks at the receiver position – Sidney Rice(notes) is hurt, Percy Harvin(notes) is dealing with a hip injury and migraines (he missed valuable practice time on Wednesday) and Hank Baskett(notes) just got signed. It also seems like the offensive line hasn’t provided Favre with as much time either. And Favre himself still has a tender ankle, which limited his practice Thursday.
Put it together and comparing this season to last year is a waste of time.
After the Lions and a bye week, things should be different. Or they better be different.
That’s all the Vikings can hope for now, that it isn’t too late to save the season; that it isn’t too late in Brett Favre’s career for one more now-or-never comeback.