…or so has gone the media meme this season: Brett Favre is playing worse than he has ever played in his career.
There is no doubt that statistically he is on pace to have the worst season of his career but you know the old saying about lies, damn lies and statistics. The two figures always cited in these stories are his interception totals and his fumbles.
It makes for an easy story but it’s also lazy reporting. It’s not just Favre, I’ve seen this in other years with other players and it’s gotten worse with the proliferation of online media covering the NFL. The more teams you have the responsibility to cover, the poorer and more lazy your reporting gets; I’m convinced many of these people don’t actually watch the games they’re “reporting” on, or don’t watch them closely enough to really catch what’s going on with a team.
What they’re not accounting for when they make the argument that Favre is playing so horribly is the circumstances surrounding those statistics they like to cite.
Those interceptions are not all on Favre. As I’ve pointed out throughout the season, a lot of Favre’s interceptions, most I’d argue, have been the result of tipped passes (either by the receiver or at the line) or that he was hit while the ball was being released.
Favre is actually playing at a pretty decent level given what he’s had to work with: A receiving corps that has been in flux all season and that has, with the exception of Randy Moss‘ brief return, lacked a true number one receiver and deep threat. Pass protection has left a lot to be desired all season.
Finally, a lot of his turnovers, interceptions and fumbles alike, have come when he was trying to rally the team from behind, which is to say, most of the time. Those situations typically demand the quarterback take more risks.
Receiver coughs up the ball: Against the New England Patriots, Percy Harvin originally caught a ball on a short out route but it was stripped from him in virtually the same motion, resulting in an interception. Harvin’s fault.
Poor Protection: Against the Arizona Cardinals, Bryant McKinnie was badly beaten on a second-and-goal inside the red zone. The resulting hit Favre took while releasing the ball got picked off. McKinnie’s fault.
Poor Decision: Greg Lewis gets knocked off his out route against the Cardinals so he is not were Favre expects him to be on a timing route but Brett should see that and not throw the ball. Favre’s fault.
There are two types of receivers: those who believe that any ball they don’t catch is the quarterback’s fault for not placing the ball as accurately as they would like and there are those who believe that if you can touch the ball, you ought to catch it regardless of how difficult the catch may be.
I’ve argued previously that the NFL needs to keep more precise statistics with which to judge individual performances. Specifically, interceptions need to be credited to those who were responsible for them, rather than always to the quarterback. Doing so could do wonders to a receiver’s attitude.
Here are some more stats the NFL might want to consider:
- Average time to throw the ball: This would give a great indication of the quality of an offensive line unit’s pass protection as a whole.
- Drops: Number of times a receiver had a chance to catch the ball but didn’t. I know they keep track of this. Just put it on the damn stat sheet.
- Drops to targeted ratio: It would be somewhat unfair to judge a receiver who gets the ball thrown to him just a couple of times a game the same as your number one target who gets a lot of chances to catch the ball.
- Knockdowns: Comparing this number to the number of interceptions a receiver gave up could be a good indication of how a receiver attacks the ball. Sidney Rice, for example, excels at this. He’ll either catch the ball himself or knock it away from a defender if he can’t catch it.
Vikings: Safety Eric Frampton did not practice at all due to the left hamstring that flared up on Sunday.
Wide receivers Bernard Berrian (groin) and Percy Harvin (ankle), quarterback Brett Favre (ankle/foot), right guard Anthony Herrera (elbow) and center John Sullivan (calf) were limited. Corners Asher Allen (concussion) and Chris Cook (knee) and safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) participated fully.
Packers: Wide receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps), linebacker Clay Matthews (shin), defensive lineman Ryan Pickett (ankle), cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), fullback Korey Hall (back) and center Scott Wells (arch) were listed as limited.
Left tackle Chad Clifton (knee), tight end Andrew Quarless (shoulder), linebacker Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and cornerback Pat Lee (ankle) all participated fully.