IS IT TIME FOR SOME CHANGES?by Jerry Gilbert
On Sunday against a decimated Philadelphia Eagles team I watched Packer Quarterback Brett Favre repeatedly miss open receivers. A pass behind Bubba Franks put the tight end in the hospital, because the future all pro quarterback broke a cardinal rule of his position. Do not lead your receiver into coverage. But as Favre said earlier this season, I am what I am and dont try to change me. What he is today may no longer be the right fit for the future of the Green Bay Packers.
Consider a few basic facts. With the Chicago Bears looking like genuine competition, success in the Northern Division will go through the Silver Dome and the Metro Dome. Brett Favre has a miserable record in both Detroit and Minneapolis. This is in addition to the fact that he is zero for forever in Pennsylvania. A game at Lambeau Field used to provide a certain victory. The last two seasons, the Packers have experienced a home field disadvantage.
Consider also the legendary fourth quarter comebacks. With the exception of last season against Houston, these are mere memories. The fourth quarter needless interception has become the reality of 2005. The starts of games have not been any better. A team missing many of its playmakers has little room for error. A quarterback who wastes a few offensive series while he gets in his groove, is a quarterback who needs to be perfect later. That has not been the situation this season.
Of course Favre is hampered by an inconsistent offensive line and few playmakers at the skill positions. Realistically, only Donald Driver is a consistent threat as a receiver, and Driver has dropped a catchable ball in the fourth quarter in each of the last two contests. Robert Ferguson, David Martin and Donald Lee are all teases. They are receivers who will make a great play on occasion and be useless at other times. If fullback Vonta Leach ever catches two passes in a row, the stadium should erupt in a standing ovation.
The offense has lots of problems, which are not the fault of the quarterback. Brett Favre cannot pass protect even though he is often left to contend with a pass rusher or two. He cannot provide a running game, and he cannot force a receiver to run the right route or fight for the ball. He cannot prevent untimely penalties or missed blocks.
But he can refrain from throwing the deep ball into traffic when Javon Walker is not there to contend for it. Antonio Chatman is game, but he is also is 5-8. Favre could throw to open receivers rather than to a spot that an inexperienced receiver may never reach. He can throw the ball away when everyone is covered. Or maybe he cant. Maybe the competitor who is setting so many records cannot play effectively with inferior talent. In his early years, there was always Sterling Sharpe to adapt to a Favre scramble. Though of a lesser talent, Antonio Freeman performed that function on later teams. So did Mark Chmura. Today there is nobody to be his safety valve.
Back in 2004 my friend Mark Quarderer wrote several articles for this site, which related statistical evidence suggesting that an aging Brett Favre who throws so many interceptions could not lead the Packers back to the Super Bowl. The succeeding seasons have proven that he was right. He was right because Favre has gotten worse rather than better in taking care of the ball, and fourth quarter miscues insure defeats.
This is not part of a rant arguing that Aaron Rodgers should become the starter. Rodgers would be even worse as the leader of the cast of characters who now comprise the offense. Even at 2-9, the offense has outscored its opponents for the season. Favre and company will win some more game this year, and beating high flying Chicago Bears would be a good start. However, as the team looks forward to next season, we should urge Brett Favre to move on to the next stage in his life. We Packer Fans have enjoyed 14 amazing years, but it is time for the next chapter to begin.