The League

Doug Farrar

Doug Farrar

A staff writer

Surviving the opener is key


Now that Brett Favre has done what we all knew he was going to do, there's the actual matter of getting on the field and validating what those around him have gone through to get him back on the field. And I'm not entirely sure that's going to work as well in 2010 as it did in 2009. In the NFC Championship game, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams gave the league a template on how to attack an offense with Favre at the head -- go after the quarterback. Hit him when he has the ball; hit him when he doesn't have the ball. Bring constant pressure, make him throw before he wants to, and make him pay when he succeeds.

It was interesting that Williams didn't really do that the week before against Arizona's Kurt Warner when the Saints beat the Cardinals in the divisional round -- then, it was as much about clogging the lanes and keeping Warner from blowing his defense up with short passes. But if the Williams theory works for more teams against Favre, it will be a wonder if the 40-year-old quarterback can make it through the entire season. Of course, Favre and his Vikings will have to start that journey in the Superdome against those very same Saints, and you can bet that Williams will be bringing as many creative blitzes as he possibly can.

There's also the matter of the division Favre plays in -- most agree that even with Favre on the roster, the Green Bay Packers have built a team that can take the NFC North. If the Pack can even split the series they lost last year, and the Vikings have to enter the playoffs as a wild-card team, that puts Favre out there with another playoff game -- perhaps on the road.

Finally, there's this: People act as if Favre is a key for automatic entry into a Super Bowl, but his last three seasons have ended with interceptions, not touchdowns. Favre hasn't been to a Super Bowl since January of 1998, and he hasn't been on a team that won the Super Bowl since January of 1997. This is no lead-pipe lock. Favre and his teammates will have to play ven better than they did in 2009.

And that's the final point of concern -- in 2009, Favre has his best statistical season. While that's a great story, it also indicates that given a chance to revert to his old gunslinger ways, he may do so. The Vikings don't really have any margin for error in that case - they've mortgaged their short-term development (and a great deal of respect around the league) to bring Favre and all his attendant drama into the fold. Anything less than a Super Bowl win will be an enormous failure -- and that's for a team that didn't even make it to the Super Bowl last year.

Favre's return is no fait accompli. This could very easily blow up in everyone's faces.

By Doug Farrar  |  August 18, 2010; 9:36 AM ET  | Category:  Brett Favre , Doug Farrar , Minnesota Vikings , NFL , Super Bowl Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I think the real key to the NFC Championship loss for the Vikings was Adrian Peterson's costly and timely fumbles.

To fumble from 10 yards out, when there was a huge hole waiting to exploited is inexcusable. He fumbled two more times in the second half.

The Vikings win that game by 10 points or more if A.P. doesn't lose the ball and the momentum before halftime.

Eliminate the fumbles, and keep Favre healthy, and if plays like he did last year, then Minnesota can book their tickets to Dallas in 2011.

Posted by: jmounadi | August 18, 2010 5:55 PM

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