Friday, September 26, 2008

Favre's so good, he's bad (and other notes)

That crashing sound you heard while watching Monday Night Football this week (and on pretty much all the talk shows Tuesday morning) was the announcers falling over themselves to explain that Brett Favre's early-season struggles with the Jets were the result of him "still learning" the playbook, terminology, and other associated knowledge after 16 years in the Packers' system.

In truth, Favre hasn't played too poorly: He's completed 70% of his passes, has twice as many TDs as picks (6 to 3) and has a 98.7 passer rating. But he's still doing the things he has, for reasons unknown, gotten away with for over a decade and a half: throwing off his back foot, heaving the ball into double- and triple-coverage, and those have nothing to do with "knowing the system." The reason he's "struggling," of course, is because his team is 1-2, with those two losses coming against the AFC's best team last year (New England) and, despite its 1-2 record, what might be its best team this year (San Diego). So you've got the worst of both worlds: Poor Bretty is being coddled for not being smart enough to figure out his offense and sports pundits are blaming him for his team's allowing 27 points per game.

Yes, I'm sure it's tough to come into a new system and take over as quarterback. But Favre's getting a lot of the same "free passes" he did from the national media that he did over his last so-so decade with the Packers, and it's still annoying. Has anyone got some good New York headlines that get on Favre for his "complete inability" to lead the team to victory?

(Because as we all know, wins and losses are completely the result of the quarterback's play. That's why Tarvaris Jackson is so good, because the Vikings were 8-4 in his starts last year. He's a winner.)

* Mildly unsettling stat: The Vikings' top two receivers are Chester Taylor (7 receptions) and any of Bobby Wade, Bernard Berrian, and Visanthe Shiancoe (6 receptions), for a total of 13 catches through three weeks. 27 players have 14 or more receptions, individually, and Brandon Marshall had 18 in one game.

None of them, however, play for this weekend's opponent, Tennessee, whose team leader is tight end Bo Scaife, with 10 catches. Justin Gage and Chris Johnson have 7 seach.

* Meanwhile, even with Ryan Grant's 54-yard run against the Vikings in week one, the team is still third in the league, allowing only 70.3 yards on the ground per game and fourth in yards per carry, with 3.2.

Of course, a big reason for the Vikings continued dominance against the run is Pat Williams, who's picking up over $7 million a year to jam up the middle. Last year, I floated the notion that the Vikings should seek to trade Williams in the offseason (not knowing that he had signed that big contract earlier in the year) to either shore up the pass defense or, perhaps, to see if he could be included to pry away one of Cleveland's quarterbacks, either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson.

Well, Cleveland saw the wisdom in the idea, but instead of trading for Williams, they traded Leigh Bodden to Detroit for Shaun Rogers, who's "improved" their rushing defense to the point where they "only" allow 145 yards per game. They allowed 129.5 yards per game last year. Meanwhile, Anderson signed a multi-year deal in the offseason and is about one bad game away from being replaced by Quinn, which means that neither player will be going anywhere soon.

As for Pat Williams, he ideally only plays on "35 to 40" plays per game, or about half the team's defensive stats. Hey, I love watching the guy swallow up a running back as much as the next guy, but should we be paying $7 million a year for a part-time player, even if he is a Pro Bowler? That sounds like the epitome of "sell high" to me. I'm not saying we could have gotten Quinn (or Anderson) for him, but there must have been some other need we could have filled, even if it dropped our rushing defense to, say, 90 yards per game and a 3.6 per-carry average.

I'm just sayin'...


David Funk said...

Hey Jason! This is Big Sooners fan from SN! I found your site thru fanofreds.

BTW, great point about Favre here.

I'll add you to my Blog List on my fantasy site.

Take care.


Cdub said...

About trading Pat Williams, NFL trades never happen as most people would assume to happen. It's not like baseball where everyone knows a player is being shopped and they can exchange for prospects and whatnot. NFL trades just never really happen as often or the way they should. Most teams prefer to build through the draft as it's proven the most successful.

Jason said...

True, Cdub...but the Browns did deal for a run-stuffing DT. Realistically, I know we wouldn't have gotten Anderson or Quinn for Pat Williams, but we could have gotten something, it seems.

Jason said...

Thanks, Dave!