What Favre really means to Vikings offense

I’m flying to Minnesota on Thursday as part of the TV broadcast team that will be doing the Vikings vs. Chiefs game Friday night. I believe the Vikings are targeting for Brett Favre to start the third preseason game against the Houston Texans, so if I’m coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, I want to get him acclimated now.

I’m anticipating getting Favre’s feet wet with a series or two behind the starting offensive line against the Chiefs. He could even start.

The bottom line with Favre joining the Vikings is that, in the past, every defensive coordinator in the league that has played the Vikings has taken liberties. What I mean by that is that on first and second downs, defenses have stacked eight or nine defenders in the box, doing whatever they can to stop the Vikings running game. The running game was ranked No. 5 in the league last year — the passing game No. 25 in the league. That will all change with Favre.

Most importantly, because defenses have taken that approach, the receivers have faced man-to-man situations. The Vikings are better at wideout now than they have been in the past. Bernard Berrian had seven touchdowns and averaged 20.1 yards per catch last season, which was better than anyone in the league that had more than 40 catches. First-round pick Percy Harvin is an X-factor. He can play in the Wildcat formation, he can line up wide, he can line up in the slot, he can line up at halfback. TE Visanthe Shiancoe had seven touchdown catches last season.

All of a sudden Favre has some pretty significant weapons. On first and second downs, if defenses want to play man coverage and take liberties, Favre can change everything for the Vikings.

The way I look at it, RB Adrian Peterson should get just as many yards — if not more — on fewer carries. The Vikings will be more efficient in the running game with Favre behind center. Also, the Vikings were one of the worst teams in the league in converting red-zone touchdowns — when the field gets compressed and decision-making becomes even more crucial at the quarterback position. You have a quarterback now with experience in the red zone. The Vikings should fare much better than they did last year in red zone conversions, when they ranked 28th in the league.

It’s the same situation on third down. With Peterson in the game, you should not be facing third-and-long. So, when I look at Favre on the Vikings — ignoring all of the obvious things — what I see is the Vikings getting better in the red zone and on third downs. Last season, they allowed 43 sacks, which is inexcusable given the number of passing attempts they made. Their sacks allowed should decrease, and their efficiency should be better.

Really, Favre makes the entire offense better. As long as he stays healthy — with the caveat that he makes good decisions and doesn’t throw the ball away to the defense (which he can do) — and as long as he plays the way that John Elway did at the end of his career, where he makes good decisions and takes shots when they’re there, this is a legitimate Super Bowl team.

In Favre, the Vikings have an experienced quarterback who understands how to pre-read defenses prior to the snap, and the Vikings will take advantage of that. In terms of the playbook, they can do more than they did with either Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson.

– Mike Mayock

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