–Brad Childress said he talked to Brett Favre twice this week, but couldn’t pin him down on how he feels about returning, because Favre had other things — like landscaping — on his mind.
–Childress said Favre has “earned that latitude” to essentially take as long as he wants to make a decision, possibly even to skip minicamp and part of training camp again.
–He’s prepared to go into the season with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels if Favre doesn’t come back.
Anyone who has been watching Childress since he picked Favre up from the airport last August should be surprised by none of this.
It was clear back then that Childress was ready to give up control of his team to Favre — setting false deadlines, giving Favre special treatment and putting his other quarterbacks on standby — to get a shot at having the 40-year-old on his team. Everything he did over the course of the 2009 season corroborated that, from the reports about Childress’ inability to pull Favre from several games, even though he wanted to, to Favre’s willingness to take a vengance shot down the field against the Packers by changing a play at the line of scrimmage to a deep pass, even though Childress called for a run.
If you’re Brett Favre, why would you even listen to Brad Childress this time of year? Why not wait until the first week of the season to come back? And if all it takes to get Childress to back off is a laughable line about landscaping, why would you put any stock in any of his rules during your inevitable return to the Vikings?
Childress came to Minnesota preaching about a “culture of accountability,” but has rendered that concept laughable with his repeated acquisitions of questionable characters. His kowtow to Favre is only the latest example. Maybe it benefited him financially — he got a contract extension by riding Favre to a 12-4 season before the predictable Favre playoff implosion, and he wouldn’t have gotten that deal without Favre. But it doesn’t bode well for a team that’s getting older and will have to fight off a Packers team that should only get better.
Look, we all know Favre is probably going to play in 2010. He’s going to reach 500 touchdown passes and 70,000 yards if he returns, and he seems to be obsessed with what’s becoming a Quixotic quest for an Elway-like ending. And while nobody is suggesting he needs to go through two-a-days to learn the game or room with Sidney Rice to develop chemistry, Childress is giving up even more by conceding those points up front.
Here’s where that will harm the Vikings coach the most: We Packers fans know all too well what erratic play an unbridled Favre is capable of. We saw it in 2004 and 2005, when Favre was essentially given free reign by coach Mike Sherman and quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell (now the Vikings’ offensive coordinator). We saw in 2007 — and unfortunately, in 2009 with the Vikings — what brilliance Favre can still conjure up when he’s at least paying some respect to a framework. But we also know that in the last stages of his career, he’s never been capable of keeping it together two years in a row. And nothing about Childress’ current approach is suggesting he’ll create the confines Favre now needs to thrive.
What does this mean for us as Packers fans? Right now, not much. The odds Favre comes back are still high, in my opinion, and the Packers have plenty of their own questions to answer before that decision comes (probably this summer). But it does increase the possibility of two games where Favre is airmailing throws off his back foot, doggedly forcing balls to his favorite targets and refusing to take the smart play when the gutsy one is available. That, coupled with an improving Aaron Rodgers and the (inexplicable) job security of Childress, means revenge could come rather quickly.
But in an objective sense, Childress isn’t doing himself any favors. The book on Favre is well-worn at this point, and Childress is flouting it, making every mistake the Packers made with Favre during the Mike Sherman era. At some point, he might be better off moving on.
Because if he can’t compete with landscaping in February, how’s he going to steer Favre away from lugheaded decisions in December?