Will Favre retirement help the Vikings?

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Now, hear me out. Last year, after Favre signed with the Vikings, I took the unpopular position in this post that Favre would make the team really good. Just the way he was able to ride in at the last moment to essentially “rescue” a team many thought had stalled made for a very good set up – from a psychological perspective. He and the team were in a great frame of mind heading into the season – on an emotional honeymoon if you will, even if you won’t, they were on an emotional honeymoon. I was immediately convinced he would make the team very good (or at least as good as a Viking team could be…falling just short of championship caliber). In fact, in the above post from last August I wrote: “The Vikes will be very good (with Favre)…now that Favre has signed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see MN make it to the playoffs, maybe even win a game at home, and then get blown out when Favre folds under pressure.” That’s sort of what happened anyway (though the Saints did not blow them out).

But fast forward to this year and I think things have been set up very differently heading into the season. Before this apparent retirement announcement came, I had the Vikings going 7-9 this year. Seriously. The Packers will be good and the Bears will be very good too – surprising a lot of folks. The Lions won’t be bad. (Official predictions coming out in the coming weeks.) But I was sure the Vikings would struggle – just like I was sure they’d be good last year. Here’s why. First of all, lots of people have been expecting Favre to come back. They were expecting him to lead the team to another really good season. There hasn’t been quite the feeling compared to years past that he would opt for retirement – many have felt all along he’d be back in Minnesota at the end of August. Had Favre opted to come back, he would have been facing far more pressure this year than last year because the team played so well last year – and he played as well as he’s played in years. There would have been higher expectations for his performance and for the team in general and Favre has struggled with the weight of expectations in recent years. Throw in there a balky ankle and I can see why the prospect of heading up to Minnesota for another grueling season may not look as good right now as it did last year. Of course, some might argue that he’s making noise about possibly retiring now in an effort to diminish expectations for the team/him so that he can sail back in at the last minute and lead the team in 2010. Who knows?

(I have to admit, there is one other rather big reason I had the Vikes at 7-9 this year, even with Favre – the loss of Chester Taylor. While Toby Gerhart may not be bad, the loss of Taylor will quietly eat at this team all year. Whenever you can hand off or throw to a savvy veteran back-up and not lose much in terms of yards-per-carry and even gain something w/re to receiving skills, you’ve got a high quality back-up. Taylor also managed to pick-up blitzes fairly effectively for Favre last year (except against New Orleans). Taylor is a guy who probably could have been a starter on many teams over the last few years. I’m telling you, we’ll feel the Chester Taylor effect this year when playing against the Bears and the Vikes will feel his absence.)

Again, while nobody is positive re how this will eventually play out, one thing I do know is that if Favre does not play for the Vikings this year, the team will very suddenly feel far less pressure because expectations will drop. I’ve already heard talk show people adjusting their season predictions for the Vikes negatively. I disagree because I already had them playing somewhat poorly with Favre. Less pressure will help this team this year and if Favre truly does not play, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vikes end up .500 or a game better.

But they won’t win the NFC North with or without Favre.

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12 Responses to “Will Favre retirement help the Vikings?”

  1. Nick Says:

    No – they would be better with Favre. Lets face it, T-Jack is awful. And Sage Rosenfels? Well, look at this and tell me you’re scared:

    To be honest, I was a little excited to play Favre again. He’s a great quarterback and would put the Pack to the test – which they need if they want to get to the ultimate game. A little disappointing to never beat him as a Viking too.

    Last, the AP is going to have a lot of eggs on their face if this is false. I, personally, dont believe it. I think he is coming back, and that this source was actually false. See you week 1 Mr. Favre!

  2. DaveK Says:

    They won 10 games with T-Jack and Gus Frerotte the year before Favre but no way that offense is as good without Favre and Taylor. I think defensively their secondary is mediocre and the big boys up front are not the force they once were. Plus, that defense played much better with a lead last year and balanced offenses seemed to be able to break them down. My hunch is that both the defense and offense takes a step back this year for the Vikings. Their special teams will continue to be awful. The Bears will be better then last year. The Packers will play them better. The Lions are going to beat someone in the division this year. I agree and would also peg the Vikings at 8 to 9 wins this year. With Favre I think the o/u would be 10 wins.

    • Nick Says:

      To be fair, their special teams was actually pretty good last year. Not great at coverage, but Percy Harvin was a force, and their punter and kicker were both very solid.

      Agree with the win total though.

    • RayMidge Says:

      I agree with all of what DaveK says and would also add that the negative psychological impact on Minny ought to be huge. Favre gave those young recievers a lot of confidence and the entire team had to be coming into this year looking at the SB in large part because of Favre and there has to be a letdown from thinking that and ending up with T. Jackson as your QB instead. Most NFL games come down to a handful of plays either being executed or not- with Favre Minny had to feel that they would be on the right side of that equation- Favre was the positive difference on many of those plays last year (the last play of the year being the huge exception). I don’t expect them to just collapse or go away but they are a worse team without Favre and every player on Minny must know that.

  3. Trav Says:

    Unbelieveable story on Deadspin.com. This is getting interesting… I won’t link to it as the title is NSFW, but it is their main post this AM. The legacy continues to get tarnished as this drags on.

  4. awhayes Says:

    Trav – saw that. Brother Steve didn’t forewarn me and I of course just opened it right up. I’m reluctant to link to it too, but you’re right re the legacy…wow.

  5. CindyV Says:

    Here’s a column from Jim Souhan that most Packer fans will love. The takeaway lines:

    “If we dare take him seriously amid his latest threats of retirement — and history tells us we should not — he will have devastated a franchise that treated him with deference and reverence and betrayed the trust of his teammates and coaches.

    He will have done so in just the manner Packers fans predicted, by throwing an inexplicable, championship-losing interception on his final play in purple, then turning his decision on retirement into a sad serial of self-indulgence.”

  6. Nick Says:

    Like TT or not, you know he is sitting somewhere watching ESPN all day grinning like an idiot over the hoopla this is creating around Vikings camp.

    Meanwhile, the Packers just locked up their future on the O-line, and camp could not be quieter….

  7. Ron LC Says:

    Miraculous recovery – Zigster found an additional $7million in a Bahamaian bank accout he forgot about. They should juct change the name of August to Farve and get it over with.

    I’m serious fed up with crap. I pledge never to respod to a Favre post again!

  8. CindyV Says:

    http://www.whatifsports.com did a 2010 NFL playoff projection based on the statistical outputs of players and team from the 2009 season. According to them the Packers take the NFC North Divison with an 13-3 record while the Viking (with Favre) are 11-5. The Bears finish 5-11 (so long Lovie) and the Lions at 2-14 (again).

    For Divisonal playoff simulations, the Packers beat Carolina with Rodgers throwing 20 of 33 for 257 yds and 2 TDs. The Cowboys beat the Saints.

    For the NFC Championship, the Packers beat the Cowboys with Ryan Grant running for 85 yds and catching a 15 yd. TD.

    And their Superbowl simulation calls for the Pack to beat the Chargers. Rodgers is game MVP throwing 22 of 35 for 300 yds. and 2 TDs.

    I hope the computer is right.

  9. CindyV Says:

    This from Pro Football Talk today:

    We continue to be amazed by those who have suggested that Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Jay Glazer of FOX somehow made up the fact that Brett Favre texted a number of his teammates about his intent to retire.

    Favre didn’t help matters when he lied about the texts, essentially calling the teammates that publicly confirmed the news liars too.

    Six days after the drama started, Glazer uncovers what really happened in an excellent piece for FOX. (We want more of these, Jay.) Favre indeed sent texts to many teammates, convincingly telling them he was done because of health reasons.

    That inspired a “two-pronged” attack by the Vikings organization and players to beg, plead, and cajole Favre into reconsidering. The Vikings offered Favre a “much more lucrative package” to entice him back. (Glazer mentions $20 million.)

    It sounds like the love Vikings teammates showed may have meant more to Favre. According to Glazer, not many Packers, if any, asked him to reconsider his retirement. The Jets seemed happy he was gone.

    “He’s torn,” said one Vikings player. “I think in his mind he was done, but loves the guys in this locker room and doesn’t want to let them down. He didn’t want to [come back], but I don’t think he can say no to these guys. He’s tortured.”

    It seems faintly ridiculous, not to mention melodramatic, that Favre would need so much ego massaging. But that doesn’t make the reporting any less true.

    I fully expect Favre to play, just like many of you. But it’s hardly surprising that Favre doesn’t know himself yet; that he has to feel wanted, that he’s struggling with the decision every step of the way.

    If Brett Favre could stop himself from becoming a parody of Brett Favre, he probably would have by now.

  10. Packer fever at si.com as well… « packergeeks Says:

    [...] that a number of experts have come around to my way of thinking on the Vikings now. (Read here for more info on why I think the Vikes may have been better off without Favre this year.) I know a [...]

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