Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Clash of egos

Last post of 2009 for me and probably the last post for a while in 2010. Don't worry, I'm not quitting blogging (no matter how bad the Vikings play). Instead, after 4 1/2 years in NASCAR-land (Charlotte), I'm moving to Cowboy-land. Yes, I'm about to become even more "displaced" of a Vikings fan that I was when I started this blog, with a move to Dallas to start my new job with Beckett Media, not to write about sports but to write about entertainment titles and video games. So it'll probably be a week or more before I get settled in and am good to go for a resumption of blogging -- try not to jump off the cliff without me!

I was heartily amused by the picture gracing the top of Greg Easterbrook's TMQ column this week. While I don't agree that the reason for the Vikings struggles is Brett Favre's diva-ness, I still can't understand how anyone would think he wasn't running the show -- or at least thought he was running the show -- from day one.

"Brett, we have a deadline for you to sign by."

"No thanks."

"OK, well how about this deadline?"

"No, that doesn't work for me either?"

"Will this deadline do, Brett?"

"Yeah, maybe. You know, forget about it, I'm not coming back."


"How about now? Please?"

"Well, since you asked so nicely..."

By Easterbrook's reckoning, Favre has "sabotaged" his recent teams by disagreeing with his head coaches over playcalling and possibly other aspects of the game. But look at who he's disagreed with. Eric Mangini and Brad Childress aren't exactly Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells. Given the choice between Favre calling the shots and Childress, I have to say at this point I have more confidence in Favre, as evidenced by that goal-line sequence in Monday night's game.

Easterbrook mentions a similar concept in last week's TMQ in reference to Peyton Manning's playcalling for the Colts:

But here, TMQ thinks, is the real reason the Indianapolis attack is so hard to stop, generating 23 victories in its last 24 games: Manning is the sole NFL quarterback who calls his own plays. [Offensive coordinator] Tom Moore says he radios in "suggestions" to Manning, and he's not being cute. Many plays drawn up by Moore and Manning have multiple options -- any one of several things can happen, depending on the defense. When Manning comes to the line, he chooses which variation to use. Most of the time, Manning simply calls whatever he wants to call. Often several of the receivers are running "sight adjustments." They don't have a specific pattern called at the line -- rather, they run what seems likely to be open given the defensive set.

Having Manning call his own plays is extremely effective. Obviously, many quarterbacks lack his level of ability. But TMQ thinks the real reason more NFL quarterbacks don't call their own plays is coaching bureaucracy. The coaches want to be in control, and maintain their illusion of possessing super-ultra-secret insider knowledge. No mere player could call a down-and-out -- only coaches have that kind of skill! By not letting quarterbacks call their own plays, NFL teams concede an advantage to the Colts. Which, needless to say, is fine with the Colts.

There should be absolutely zero questions that Brad Childress thinks himself a god among coaching and openly bristles at the notion that a mere player -- even one was experienced as Brett Favre -- could possibly call a game even remotely as well as he could. I don't think that Favre should call everything, but in key situations, he should be given more control than Childress is almost certainly willing to give.

Whatever the reason for the Vikings' troubles of late, I don't believe it has anything to do with Brett Favre's ego or lack of ability (but don't tell that to ESPN, which on Tuesday morning applied the headline "Fading with Favre" to the highlights of the Monday night game). As crazy as it seems, Favre probably isn't the biggest egomaniac on the Vikings' sideline, and that's a little scary to think.

(Oh, and congratulations to the Vikings' eight Pro Bowlers. The Pro Bowl -- now with extra meaninglessness!)


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Peter said...

I hope your move goes well.

Whether Favre inspired or not, the Vikings let the pass set up the run against a Giants team that didn't care much and Minnesota demolished them. Awesome.