Cutting The Charade: We Know Who's Starting On Sunday

There has, allegedly, been drama about who the Minnesota Vikings will be starting at quarterback this Sunday when they make the trip to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots. And Brad Childress has talked a really good game about not wanting to put Brett Favre's streak of 291 consecutive starts ahead of the progress of the team and things of that nature.

But if we're under the impression that anybody but Favre is going to be trotting out onto the field to start at quarterback this Sunday for the Vikings, our good friend Peter Griffin has two little words for you.

Yeah. . .Brett Favre is starting at quarterback this Sunday. Quite frankly, Brett Favre could have passed away on Wednesday afternoon, and Childress would have listed him as no worse than questionable on this week's injury report. At this point, the guy really doesn't have a whole lot of choice. . .what he and the rest of this team went through to bring Favre back this year indicates that this is pretty much Little Big Horn for Childress and company. To his credit, it appears that he'd rather have the arrows sticking out of his chest when it comes time to give him his pink slip, as opposed to sticking out of his back.

So, Brett Favre is going to start on Sunday for the Vikings when they make the trip to Foxboro. With all the debate that we've had over the past couple of days over the possibility of Tarvaris Jackson being called upon to get his first start since the Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs to close out the 2008 season, we know damn well it's not happening.

There's really not a whole lot of debate about who will start on Sunday. Now, who should start on Sunday? Well. . .we can debate that all day long.

If you're not regularly checking out the site Advanced NFL Stats, you should be. At first, it looks like a lot of calculator nerdery and so forth, but there is actually a lot of good information that can be taken from what they do over there. The other day, they did an article simply entitled "How Poorly Is Brett Favre Playing This Season?" The results, to steal a line from ice-devouring sex machine Chaz Michael Michaels, are nothing short of mind-bottling.

Last season was magical for Brett Favre, as everything seemed to go his way. In the 2009 regular season, Favre accumulated +3.08 WPA, good for fifth in the league. That's an average of +0.19 WPA per game, meaning his performance would take an average team from a 50/50 team to almost a 70/30 team. That's impressive for an athlete of any age.

This season is different. Injuries and distractions appear to have taken their toll. Through week 7, Favre ranks a very distant last in total WPA, with -1.89, nearly three times worse than the next worst passer. That's -0.32 WPA per game. He's behind Trent Edwards, Jay Cutler, Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Max Hall--everyone.

Yes, folks, we can't even refer to Favre as "Jay Cutler-bad". . .because, according to the NFL Advanced Stats folks at least, "Jay Cutler-bad" would be a tremendous step forward from what Favre has produced thus far in 2010.

So, you might be saying to yourself, "Yeah, yeah. . .WPA, EPA, yadda yadda, blah blah. . .put that into English." Not a problem.

If you take Brett Favre out of the equation, the Minnesota Vikings are +8 in the turnover ratio category in 2010. . .when we put Favre into the equation, that goes from a +8 to a -6. Only eight teams have more turnovers on the season than Favre has by himself to this point. Favre is responsible for 14 of Minnesota's 15 turnovers through the first six games of this 2010 season (the other one belongs to Toby Gerhart, who lost a fumble in garbage time of the Detroit game back in Week 3). And it gets worse.

The Minnesota Vikings have allowed a total of 116 points through the season's first six games. That 19.3 points/game figure puts them at 11th in the National Football League, which is relatively respectable. Most of that, however, is not really the fault of the defense.

Of the 116 points that the Minnesota Vikings have allowed, 21 of them have come as the result of a play where the ball went from Brett Favre directly to an opponent. . .the fumble in the end zone against the Miami Dolphins, the interception for a touchdown against the New York Jets, and the interception for a touchdown against Green Bay. That means that opposing teams have scored 95 points when the Minnesota defense has been on the field.

Of those 95 points, 30 have come from opposing drives that came immediately after a Favre turnover. . .those points were as follows:

-A touchdown for Detroit when Corey Williams intercepted an ugly screen pass intended for Gerhart. The resulting Lions' drive started at the Minnesota 12-yard line.
-A field goal for Detroit when Favre was intercepted by Alphonso Smith. The Lions set up shop at their own 49-yard line.
-A field goal for the Jets when Favre attempted to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson and had it slip out of his hands. The Jets started their drive from the Minnesota 47-yard line.
-A second field goal for the Jets when Favre fumbled another time. The Jets started the drive at the Minnesota 46.
-A touchdown for Dallas when Favre again fumbled an attempted handoff to Peterson. Dallas started out from the Minnesota 48-yard line.
-A touchdown for Green Bay when Favre was intercepted by A.J. Hawk. Green Bay started the subsequent drive from the Vikings' 41-yard line.

That leaves, by my estimation, 65 points that have come as the result of the Vikings' defense actually getting beaten by an opposing offense, and 51 points that have come directly from the hand of Brett Favre. Those 51 points have come from opponents going directly into the end zone or starting in Minnesota territory. This means that Brett Favre has contributed directly to 44% of the points scored by Minnesota Vikings' opponents this season. That's a disastrous figure by any definition.

Now, I'll admit. . .I bought into the hype going into this season, and was not shy about expressing this. As a result, I've gotten plenty of e-mail from losers whose opinion nobody has ever cared about outside of their own house (or basement or trailer or whatever) with an incredibly high-and-mighty attitude about how Minnesota's season has gone. It's very easy to throw bombs at people from a position of anonymity. But, allow me to give these losers another piece of ammunition by saying that, quite frankly, I still believe that this team has the talent to turn this season around and start moving things in the right direction, and even to win this division and move on to the post-season.

Sadly, however, the chances of that happening with Brett Favre at the helm of this team. . .at least, in this writer's opinion. . .are somewhere between slim and none. And if you look at the corner of the diner, I believe you can see Slim calling for his waitress to bring the check. Whether it's physical or mental or a combination of both. . .as of right now, the magic is gone. Could the magic come back? I suppose it probably could. . .after all, that's why it's magic, I guess. But I'm not seeing it happening. And, if it doesn't happen, I hope that at the very least we Viking fans treat him better than the ingrates from the other side of the river have over the past couple of years.

But Tarvaris Jackson needs to be quarterbacking this football team, starting on Sunday in Foxboro. Ridicule Jackson for what he's done in the past if you want to, or complain about how the Vikings should have kept Sage Rosenfels and gotten rid of Jackson or whatever. . .but, consider the following:

Brett Favre, so far this season, is completing 58.1% of his passes and averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. Tarvaris Jackson, for his career, has completed 58.7% of his passes and has averaged 6.7 yards per attempt. And Jackson a) has never played significant, meaningful time with Percy Harvin, b) has never played significant, meaningful time with Randy Moss, and c) didn't have nearly the grasp of the offense that he should have right now after having been in the same system for his entire NFL career.

To put it as simply as I can. . .it can't get worse at this point, ladies and gentlemen. It simply can't. The defense is playing their asses off and getting put into bad situations, Adrian Peterson is absolutely out of his mind right now and is keeping this team afloat almost single-handedly, and it's getting closer to the point of no return for the 2010 season.

Brad Childress should make the switch, starting tomorrow. But, since the only thing more predictable than Brad Childress' offense is Brad Childress himself, we know it won't happen. It may be the last meaningful decision he makes as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, because following what would likely happen if this team were to slip to 2-5, I can't imagine that he'd be back for a sixth season on the Minnesota sideline.

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