The League

Les Carpenter
Staff Writer

Les Carpenter

Yahoo! Sports reporter and former NFL writer for The Washington Post.

Wrangling Favre


The problem with Brett Favre is that he has been celebrated so much in his career for his ability to scramble around and make plays out of nothing that he has become something of a caricature of his jeans commercial: a guy playing touch football in a field somewhere. He has always been at his best when working with a strong coach who could control his wild side and focus him on a specific gameplan. Without that structure he is just guy trying to turn the NFL into a backyard game.

Early in his career he clashed with Mike Holmgren but finally relented to Holmgren's fiery will and became perhaps the best quarterback in the game taking the Packers to two Super Bowls. But under Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman he slipped into bad habits, forcing passes he shouldn't throw, trying to create plays that weren't there and his career suffered. His brief renaissance was under Mike McCarthy who tried to balance Green Bay's attack and Favre nearly went to a third Super Bowl. He came to the Jets and now the Vikings believing he could manage the offense himself, calling whatever plays he wished and rejecting those sent in by the coaches.

For a time it worked in both places, but Sunday exposed both the failure of Vikings Coach Brad Childress to control his team and Favre's inability to adapt to his surroundings. It is clear he has turned back into the old Favre, the one who believes he knows better than his coaches what plays to call. And as a result he is heading into dangerous territory. If Childress is unable to grab the authority from his quarterback the Vikings are doomed to quickly disappear from the playoffs.

Because as clever as Favre can seem on the field, he is only effective when working in a controlled system.

These days there is no control in Minnesota.

By Les Carpenter  |  December 23, 2009; 11:47 AM ET  | Category:  Brett Favre , Green Bay Packers , Minnesota Vikings Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I've got a problem with a coach who doesn't believe he has the authority to decide who plays and who doesn't. Everyone is blaming Bret but if Brad told him, instead of asking him to sit, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Additionally, if it weren't for Bret, does anyone believe the Vikes would be in position to clinch the second seed? I certainly don't.

Posted by: Gray999 | December 23, 2009 1:20 PM

Why not bench Favre for the next game? To be effective, however, act all week as if he is going to start and send in the backup at the start of the game.

Might be a bit drastic but it would send a strong signal to Favre and the rest of the team

Posted by: ered1 | December 23, 2009 2:53 PM

GRAY999: I disagree that "if Brad told him, instead of asking him..." This is, simply, Brett Favre who in all likelihood would not have stood for being told what to do. Mr. Favre is the one who, like it or not, the last years in Green Bay, the year in New York, and now the year in Minnesota, who says, "this is the way we do it" or I take my ball and glove and go home." (Okay, "I take my ball and goal posts...")

I also disagree with Mr. Carpenter that "Sunday exposed both the failure of Vikings Coach Brad Childress to control his team and Favre's inability to adapt to his surroundings." The Vikings accepted Mr. Favre knowing what and how he is. And, Mr. Favre doesn't have an inability to adapt to his surroundings; he expects his surroundings to adapt to him; two entirely different things. (Well, he may also have an inability to adapt, but nothing I've seen from him the past several years shows that he has any interest in adapting to his surroundings; he simply doesn't believe he has to.)

But maybe all I am is an amateur psychologist who's paid attention to him too long.

Posted by: Dungarees | December 23, 2009 2:56 PM

When I read articles like this I realize that most sports writers see nothing more than ESPN highlights of games, if even that. The Vikings recent troubles are not due to Brett Favre’s “wild side” emerging again. The offensive line is being exposed as pretty mediocre and perhaps even bad. They are getting no push on run plays and the pass protection is becoming downright horrible. Even under these bad conditions Favre’s lowest QB ratings for any game this season is 73.2. Not great but hardly sinking his team and preventing them from winning. In fact every other starting QB in the league has had at least one game with a lower QB rating except Philip Rivers.
If you care to, watch the Monday night game against the Bears and pay attention to the Viking’s offensive line play. Favre will play goes as his offensive line and running game go.

Posted by: Boris222 | December 23, 2009 5:15 PM

I agree with the thesis that Brett is most effective when under tight control. He went 13-3 in 2007, and was one pass play away from the Super Bowl, because McCarthy called the plays, and Brett followed the calls, except when stuff broke down after the ball was snapped. And, he still demonstrated that he didn't like the cold weather anymore!

At the point where he was holding the franchise hostage with his "retire, not retire" routine, they made the tough, correct call, to go with the young guy, Rodgers, who has proven to be a good quarterback. Today Rodgers set an NFL record by being the FIRST NFL QB to throw for 4,000 yards in his first two seasons.

Chilly needs to control Brett without being OVERCONTROLLING. A tough balance, but one Holmgren and McCarthy found. IMHO, Chilly blew it when he went to the airport to pick Brett up. That showed Brett who the Alpha Dog was!

Posted by: WarriorGrrl | December 27, 2009 10:19 PM

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