Friday, November 26, 2010
Brett Favre's End Has Arrived : Why The Minnesota Vikings Must Bench The Ineffective Quarterback
Things are so muddled in Minnesota right now, they can't even spell Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams last name correctly on the back of his jersey. Making Leslie Frazier the head coach is about the only thing the Vikings have done right thus far, though it would behoove them to lift the interim tag off and extend his contract because Frazier is one of the first assistants in the league in line for a head coaching job.
The confusion started before the season began, with Brett Favre sitting in his house once again waffling between playing and retiring. It held the Vikings hostage to his whims, something Favre had done several times while employed with the Packers to the point he wore out his welcome.
After several Vikings went to his house to plead a return to an aging team with perhaps one last gasp left at Super Bowl aspirations, Favre agreed and had head coach Brad Childress chauffeur him from the airport to training camp when it was almost time to begin the regular season.
Since then, Farve has resembled many athletes before him washed up yet trying to extend their careers one season longer than he should have. After 17 interceptions and six fumbles in 10 games by the greatest turnover machine in NFL history, Childress was fired because of just three wins and constant bickering with his quarterback over not running the plays that were called.
While most all of Favre's media buddies have tried to feign surprise at his poor play, some have giving up on spit shining the faux alter they helped create by calling for the benching of the turnover king. Now Frazier, a defensive specialist and former Pro Bowl cornerback, has to fix the offense by removing the cause of his team illness.
While Tavaris Jackson, a second round pick by Childress in 2006, was asked to play too soon, he has won more starts than he has lost and has spent a lot of time on the bench learning since 2008. Now is the time to see if he will start next year and beyond, or if the Vikings should use a draft pick hoping to find a starting quarterback.
Favre is done. Before he would blame his errors on incompetency around him or injuries plaguing him. The excuses have worn out their welcome, and his presence will soon follow. In fact, he already has had a few media buddies write stories on how he may retire before the season ends. Minnesota is going nowhere this year, so Favre has to make it all about him, in an attempt to grab headlines, once more before the season is over.
Frazier's first act needs to be the promotion of Jackson, while demoting Favre to third string status the rest of the season and making him inactive in each of the final six games. This would allow the Vikings to get a better gauge on rookie Joe Webb. Webb is an extremely athletic player some viewed as a wide receiver prospect coming out of the 2010 draft, yet Minnesota decided to see what he could do at quarterback.
Benching Brett Favre is not sacrilegious, it is evolution. The game goes on, something he will not do in the NFL after this season. Deciding whether or not Jackson and Webb will be the guys handing the ball to Adrian Peterson 300 times a year is a much more important question to answer for the good of the franchise. Worrying about the feelings of a self-centered egomaniac is counter productive, and that is why Childress will sit at home until 2013 getting paid by the Vikings for nothing in return.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants
Both teams are 6-4 right now, but miles apart in certain areas. Jacksonville has an erratic passing game and porous defense, but they have the excellent Maurice Jones-Drew toting the rock for them.
The Giants Ahmad Bradshaw is having a very comparable season, but has a tendency to fumble. New York needs to hang onto the ball and get better quarterback play. If they do, they should control this game.
Giants 34 Jaguars 20
Carolina Panthers @ Cleveland Browns
Both teams are playing with third string quarterbacks and reserve running backs. It's just the Browns bench has been on the field longer and have played well. Carolina seems intent on getting the first pick of the 2011 draft.
Browns 23 Panthers 10
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
Even if Ben Roethlisberger flops into a fetal position, they should win this in the fourth quarter. Buffalo has the ability to expose Pittsburgh's secondary, the weakness of the defense, but they have been so inconsistent this season.
Steelers 34 Bills 23
Minnesota Vikings @ Washington Redskins
The Redskins long, strange trip in 2010 continues. They somehow pulled out a win last week over Tennessee in overtime despite losing a plethora of players to injuries. It was reminiscent of their win over Green Bay earlier in the season, as far as a bunch of players going down for a long time from injuries.
Washington will hope their third string running back holds up, because there isn't much behind Keiland Williams. Washington is so thin at running back, they are making undrafted rookie linebacker Darrel Young tote the ball at times.
Redskins leading receiver Santana Moss could miss the game, so Joey Galloway may play. He just turned 39-years old last week. Tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis may have to carry the passing attack.
Minnesota has their own old man with 41-year old quarterback Brett Favre. Though he and Galloway never teamed up, their combined 80 years has to be the oldest duo to play on a NFL field this season.
Though the Vikings season is over as far as playoff dreams, they still can play for pride under their newly hired head coach Leslie Frazier. The Redskins really struggle at stopping the run at times, so expect Minnesota halfback Adrian Peterson to carry the ball often.
Washington allows four more points per game than they score, while Minnesota allows five more than they score. The difference here could be who holds onto the ball. The Vikings are dead last in the Takeaway/ Giveaway Differential category ant minus-13, while Washington's plus-six is eighth best in the NFL.
Redskins 30 Vikings 28
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
Houston has one of the worst defenses in the NFL this season, but the run defense is their strength. It is ranked 16th in the league, but it will have to play a lot better this Sunday.
The Titans are playing some rookie quarterback named Rusty Smith, so the plan will be to feed halfback Chris Johnson the ball as often as possible. Tennessee doesn't have a defense much better than Houston, so Arian Foster has the ability to run for as many yards as Johnson.
The offensive balance of the Texans should make the difference, but their defense is bad enough to make Smith a star.
Texans 31 Titans 16
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
Game of the Week
Both teams need to win here badly, and both have been on a roll lately. Atlanta needs to the win to maintain their division lead, and they have won their last four games. Green Bay, who has also won their last four, needs to win to stay on top of their division.
The Packers defense gives up the least amount of points in the NFL, and both teams score an average of 25 points per game. Featuring two young quarterbacks with similar statistics, the difference is that Atlanta has the better running attack.
Turnovers might be the key here, because both defenses are very opportunistic. Atlanta has the second best Giveaway/ Takeaway Differential in the NFL and plus-10, while Packers rank fifth at plus-8. Expect the Atlanta crowd to be louder than usual.
Falcons 27 Packers 24
Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders
Both of these teams mirror each other. Their backup quarterbacks start, even though neither team possesses a very good passing attack. Neither defense can stop the run well, though the pass defense is excellent for both.
Oakland can run the ball, while the Miami veteran backfield has been average at best. If the Raiders halfback Darren McFadden goes off, especially since he did next to nothing last Sunday, Oakland should keep their playoff dreams alive.
Raiders 28 Dolphins 13
Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks
This is a battle of the two teams leading the Western Division in both conferences. They are also two teams very few predicted would lead their division at any time in 2010, let alone in the 11th games of their schedules.
Kansas City loves to run the ball and control the clock, while having the best attack in the league right now. Seattle has been winning despite having the 29th ranked offense and 28th ranked defense.
While both have made nice stories so far, all good things must come to an end eventually.
Chiefs 24 Seahawks 17
Saint Louis Rams @ Denver Broncos
While the Rams still dream of winning their division, Denver might want to start preparing for the 2011 draft. While Denver has the better quarterback, Saint Louis has the edge on defense and rushing attack.
Playing in the thin air of Mile High Stadium always takes a team out each year, and the young Rams are the next victims to fall in the fourth because they cant catch their breath.
Broncos 27 Rams 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Baltimore Ravens
A battle of 7-3 teams with a lot riding on this game. While Baltimore needs to win to at least maintain a hold on first place in their division, Tampa Bay winning would place them in a tie that could be for first place if Atlanta loses.
While most every NFL fan expected the Ravens to be here right now in 2010, very few saw the Buccaneers winning more than a handful of games. Tampa Bay has a ball control offense that doesn't turn over the ball much, yet they have a good pass defense that has helped them have the sixth best Takeaway/ Giveaway Differential in the league now.
While the Ravens offense hasn't been consistent yet, the defense has been stellar. The return of free safety Ed Reed has helped them more than words can describe. In four games this year, he has four interceptions, four passes defended, and created a score by pitching one of his interceptions to Dawan Landry for the final 23 yards to the end zone.
If quarterback Joe Flacco can be consistent on third down, something he has not done much this season, Baltimore should win with halfback Ray Rice leading the way against a mediocre Buccaneers run defense.
Ravens 26 Buccaneers 17
Philadelphia Eagles @ Chicago Bears
Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has quietly had a nice season where Chicago has asked him to wear many hats. Perhaps the hat he wears Sunday will have instructions to shadow Eagles quarterback Michael Vick at times.
Vick has been on a roll which has helped Philadelphia win their last three games, something Chicago has also accomplished. The Eagles rarely cough up the football, but often take it away from opponents with the top ranked Takeaway/ Giveaway Differential in the NFL at plus-15.
Though the Bears allow a league best 14.6 points per game average, they only score 19 a game. The Eagles put up over 28 per game, so the Bears defense has even more stress and responsibility. A loss, coupled by a Green Bay win, will drop them into second place.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler needs to show why the team gave up so much to get him. The Eagles give up points, and their pass defense can be exploited. If he is on his game, the Bears can win.
Eagles 23 Bears 18
San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts
The NFL fan sees two quarterbacks, heading towards being nominated to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl, having great seasons that could bring a pile of points Sunday, though both teams are missing several parts on the attack because of injuries.
The Chargers are capable of throwing up a lot of points on a weak Colts defense, and the San Diego defense could allow the Colts to score just as many points. The Bolts rank first in total defense and passing defense, while ranking third in run defense. Their problem is they do not create enough turnovers and have given the ball away 22 times.
They both have scored and allowed almost exactly the same totals in points. The difference here could be the running game. Though neither team has impressed the league in that area this year, San Diego holds the edge.
If the turnovers are held to a minimum, San Diego's resurgence in their quest to try to win the AFC West for the seventh time in eight years continues.
Chargers 38 Colts 30
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
Derek Anderson's time as a starting quarterback in the NFL appears to be winding down, while it is dubious that any 49er quarterback on the team this season will stay for next year.
Both teams defenses have underachieved most of this season, so the running game might decide this snooze-fest.
49ers 19 Cardinals 17