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Joe Baker
Colts Blogger

Joe Baker

Joe Baker writes for the Indianapolis Colts blog 18-to-88.

Count on regression


Brett Favre absolutely has a legitimate title shot rejoining the Vikings for another season, but when it comes to individual performance, last year was almost certainly Favre's best chance to go out on top. A career year at age 40 screams that regression to the mean is coming, and coming fast.

Favre set career bests in almost every efficiency statistic you can name. Even without factoring in his advanced age, it's hard to see him continuing at that level. Once a player has a substantial track record, they rarely perform very much above or below that baseline average for very long. Over the first 18 years of his career Brett Favre threw an interception once per 30 pass attempts (3.3% of the time), last year he threw one per 77 attempts (1.3% of the time). Going forward it's a lot more likely he'll perform like he did from '91-'08 than like this single year, last year. The same goes for the many other categories that he was outstanding in against his own career average. Veterans very rarely follow a career year with an even more impressive year. For a longtime vet, a career year is much more a product of fortunate circumstances and good luck than improvement as a player. Brett Favre is a great player, but it's unrealistic to expect him to perform at his 2009 level of greatness as opposed to his significantly worse, but still impressive career averages.

Regression to the mean seems overwhelmingly likely, but wouldn't by any means be disastrous. Performing "only" up to your career average isn't going to tarnish your legacy. The less likely, but more troubling dangers are age and injury. Favre has seemed immune to both for so long, but the risk is always there. A nagging ankle injury as been cited as Favre's reason for staying away from camp and the past two years he's took 30+ sacks for the first time since 2000. Last year he took sacks at the second highest rate of his career, the highest having come when he was a spry young 27-year-old. Sixty-seven sacks the past two years, on a 40-year-old body, is brutal. It's not merely worrying about how an aging body will handle the same punishment, the trend for Favre seems to be towards taking a heavier beating as he ages.

Returning for another year gives him a real chance at another title, but makes it unlikely he'll go out on top statistically and dances with the ever increasing risk of an injury sidelining the Ironman.

By Joe Baker  |  August 18, 2010; 4:43 AM ET  | Category:  Brett Favre , Minnesota Vikings , NFL , Super Bowl Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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