Favre, Vikings should employ ‘less is more’ logic

Through two weeks, both Brett Favre’s play and the reaction it has caused have been thought-provoking.

It’s easy to pin Favre’s struggles on the absence of WR Sidney Rice — and hey, maybe that’s as far as the analyzing needs to go. But another way to make sense of it is through a little exercise of compare and contrast.

The Vikings’ passing attack in 2010 doesn’t at all resemble its approach through two games in 2009. I was at Minnesota’s second game of the season last year in Detroit and witnessed firsthand how conservative the play-calling was. Check-downs, screens, quick flicks to the wide receivers, play-action rollouts to tight ends dragging across the field. Heck, a quick slant was an aggressive call that day. Favre’s numbers that day don’t mislead: 23 of 27 for just 155 yards.

In his first two games last season, Favre averaged less than 7.0 yards per completion. Going through his game logs over the next 14 games, he didn’t have a two-game stretch in which his yards-per-completion was less than 10. The 2009 version of Favre evolved into a deadly down-the-field passer, but he didn’t start that way.

So when Favre tried to force a pass 60 yards downfield to Bernard Berrian on Sunday, but it fell short and was intercepted, I thought back to the more conservative approach I witnessed at Ford Field last September and wondered why it wasn’t dusted off again this year. Considering the factors — Favre’s lack of practice time, the concerns at wide receiver, RB Adrian Peterson’s excellent play and the salty defense – it seems the dialed-back passing attack employed early in ’09 would have played quite well again this year.

Favre doesn’t have Rice, but the Vikings haven’t displayed the “jog-before-you-run” play-calling mentality that allowed him to ease into the season a year ago. Favre is averaging more than 10 yards per completion this season, but he has less than a 60 percent completion percentage for the first time in five seasons.

A good reminder in my line of work is that “less is usually more.” That logic applied to a still-shaking-the-rust-off 39-year-old quarterback a year ago at this time. I think it should fit the 40-year-old version, too.

– Paul Burmeister

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