At the start of this season I naively believed that the 2010 Minnesota Vikings season would be a continuation their 2009 season. Six games into the 2010 season the Vikings have a 2-4 record and that’s just the beginning of the dissimilarities. But, should it actually happen, perhaps the most surprising difference between this season and last could be the benching of Brett Favre in favor of Tavaris Jackson.
Just typing that feels strange.
After the Vikings played the Packers last Sunday, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre hobbled off the field so gingerly that we knew he was either really hurt, or his acting had dramatically improved since There’s Something About Mary. Turns out he was hurt and had not one, but two fractures in his left foot—one in his ankle and one in his heel. With pretty much any other player, that would mean sitting out a game or two, but Favre isn’t any other player. Despite having his injured foot strapped into a walking cast most of the week and not practicing, Favre not only wants to play against the New England Patriots, but thinks he can help the team win.
I’m not sure if that’s inspirational or delusional, but it’s certainly stirring up a storm of speculation.
In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week, former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon said that it seemed Favre’s footwork suffered when he was scrambling to try to make something happen. With his footwork and mechanics thrown out the proverbial window, Favre was making more dangerous throws resulting in more interceptions. And that was before Favre had two fractures in his left foot. One can only imagine what his footwork will be like after not practicing this week and trying to shuffle around on a fractured foot. My imagination is pretty good and I can’t come up with a version of that vision that doesn’t end poorly.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Favre could do something that makes sense and sit out Sunday’s game against the Patriots, letting Tavaris Jackson have the start.
Ideally, a back-up quarterback can step into the game when a starter is out, run the offense and not screw things up—it might not be spectacular, but it should be safe. Whether or not Tavaris Jackson is capable of that is uncertain, however, with a 2-4 record it isn’t as if Favre has raised the bar too high this season.
Now in his fifth season, Tavaris Jackson was supposed to be the Vikings’ quarterback of the future, but his tenure with the Vikings has had mixed results. At times when he steps back to throw, I can see what Childress saw in Jackson—he’s tall and athletic with a good arm. But then when Jackson overshoots his receiver or starts looking panicked after an opposing defense has gotten to him…well, then I start wondering how long it will be before rookie Joe Webb is ready to start.
While we can debate whether or not Tavaris Jackson has what it takes to be an elite quarterback in the NFL all day long, he does have something the Vikings desperately need right now, health. With two healthy feet, and a throwing arm unaffected by tendonitis, Jackson seems like the logical choice to start on Sunday. If Favre and Childress were making decisions logically, Jackson would start. Favre is too important to the Vikings to have him out on the field when his movement is hampered by a serious injury—it’s unnecessarily dangerous.
Today in the St. Paul Pioneer Press Ryan Longwell, when being asked about Favre’s ability to play on Sunday said, “I’ve seen the guy have a lot of injuries, and you just don’t bet against him.”
For me, it isn’t Favre’s toughness that’s in question, it’s his effectiveness I question. How effective can he be with two fractures in his left foot?
While Favre has good reason to have a messiah complex with regard to the Vikings (sending the team captains down to Mississippi to beg him to return can do that), his very desire to help the team should convict him to make the decision that will give them the best chance to win. Rationally, it’s hard to believe that the Vikings are better off having him play this Sunday. Maybe he’ll surprise me and have an amazing, breakthrough game and the offense will score early and often and it will be magical. I would love that. But, given the nature of his injuries, it seems like his health and availability through the rest of the season is more important than satisfying a messiah-complex or maintaining an epic string of continuous starts.
*This piece is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under my alter ego Skol Girl.