When is enough, enough?
That phrase was uttered yesterday by a politician during the debate about the major political issue of the day. This isn't about politics, but that phrase got me to thinking about the Vikings and Brett Favre. What happened in 2009 was as fun as 2010 has been disappointing. The playoffs are a one in a million shot at this point, so the Vikings have two priorities remaining as I see it:
1) Finish strong in 2010 with an eye on Leslie Frazier as a solution for the permanent head coach position
2) Evaluate the current roster with an eye on 2011
With those two priorities in mind, it's time to bring up the Brett situation. It's been talked about in quiet whispers among fans, but this hasn't been explored by anyone in the press, at least not that I know of. Now, it isn't as complicated as the Bonnie SItuation from Pulp Fiction, but Favre is an issue and a player that either helps with both priorities or directly contradicts 1 and 2.
Let's see how Favre can positively affect both 1 and 2 or how he can have 1 and 2 working in direct conflict. Oh, and this has nothing to do with the Sterger deal. If you're looking for that, I recommend what Chris wrote about, which you can find here.
The Favre Situation, after the jump.
Part 1 of this deal is how the Vikings finish the final four games of the 2010 season. Interim coach Leslie Frazier has made a very good first impression as a head coach, beating Washington on the road and the hapless Bills at home. The final four games are a lot more difficult, as they face the Giants, travel to Philadelphia, and then finish up with division foes Chicago and Detroit. How the Vikings finish will greatly determine whether or not Frazier will have the 'interim' tag removed from his name at the end of the season for the Vikings. One of the things I like in a head coach is decisiveness, and when Frazier took over he said unequivocally that Favre, if healthy, was his guy and gave the Vikings the best chance to win.
Against Washington, that was most definitely the case. Favre was efficient, didn't turn the ball over, and when the offense got the ball with a slim lead and 6 minutes left, he was an instrumental figure in making sure that Washington didn't get the ball back. Against the Bills, Favre was hurt on the third play of the game and didn't return, his last play his 407th* interception of the year. Tarvaris Jackson came in and finished the game, playing well, for the most part.
*Not really his 407th. It just seems like it.
And therein lies the rub. Is a banged up Favre the best route to help determine number 2?
I honestly don't know. I do know that Brett Favre will not be the quarterback in 2011, and with the playoffs about as realistic as Minka Kelly giving me the time of day, the Vikings must take a serious look at whether or not Favre can maximize the talent around him for the final four games, which will help determine what direction Minnesota goes as they head into the off-season.
A healthy Favre is a guy that elevates the play of everbody around him, and 2009 was a great example of that. Sidney Rice exploded on the scene, Percy Harvin was Rookie of the Year, and the Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship game. A healthy Favre for the final four games will help Frazier and the Vikings make solid decisions about who to keep and who to let go. All positions except quarterback. The conventional wisdom is that Tarvaris Jackson isn't the guy for 2011, so it doesn't matter whether or not he plays, anyway, because the Vikings will need another QB next season as it is.
A hurt Favre is a guy that can't hit receivers and throws bad, bad picks. If he can't hit receivers, how will Minnesota know whether or not Sidney Rice is a guy that should or shouldn't be re-signed. Against Green Bay and Washington, Favre limited his throwing, and admit it: you had some doubts about whether or not Sidney Rice was a guy the Vikings should invest in. If, and yes it's a big if, that is the top end of Favre for 2010, is that a fair assessment on Rice? I do not. And I use Jackson's performance as exhibit A as to why a diminished Favre hurts the evaluation of other players. Now, maybe the gameplan with Favre in was to go deep early to Rice and the results would have been the same, but we'll never know. We do know that Jackson targeted Rice early and often, and what we saw was the All-Pro from 2009, something we hadn't seen in his first two games back. And I also submit that we saw an improved Tarvaris Jackson, interceptions aside. We saw a guy that was able to shake off a bad throw and rally, something we didn't see, and we saw a trust in his receivers he didn't used to have by targeting a covered Rice. One turned out great, one was a pick, but overall, I liked what I saw.
So that's my question, I guess. Can the Vikings maximize the offense with a banged up Favre, or not? I find it difficult to believe that a guy that can't throw as far as normal with as much velocity as normal can maximize the talent of the receivers that will be catching those balls. I would think that the offense would almost have to be tailored to the abilities, or limited abilities, that Favre would have playing with a hurt shoulder.
I don't see how that is fair to Jackson, or Rice and the other receivers. Is Jackson the guy who can lead the Vikings in 2011? I am dubious, because there is so much history between the fanbase and Jackson that I don't know it can be overcome. But 4 solid games, three of which are against quality opponents, could be the catalyst that makes Vikings fans view Jackson through a different prism, or confirm what they already believe to be true. Would the opinion of the fans be changed if Jackson were to beat the Giants tomorrow? What about the Giants and then the Eagles on the road? What about the Giants, Eagles, and then the Bears at home? depending on how he played, yeah, I think he could get fans to rally behind him, but we'll see.
Either way, the Vikings, the fans, and Tarvaris Jackson need to know, Favre's longevity streak be damned. Whether Favre starts Sunday or not doesn't matter, other than The Streak, which is a remarkable achievement, will be over. And it will be newsworthy, but we will move on. Well, ESPN won't. But whatever.
I don't write this to dismiss what Favre did for the Vikings in 2009, or what an impact he has had on the NFL for 20 years. His career is a singularly remarkable one, and as Vikings fans we can always claim that his signature year in that remarkable career was while he was wearing a Vikings uniform, and 2009 is a season I will look back on fondly for the rest of my days.
But I ask again: When is enough, enough?