Brett Favre (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Brett Favre is hurt from head to toe, but keeps getting off the turf, reminiscent of Gus Frerotte in 2008. But is there a point where Brad Childress turns to Tarvaris Jackson because of Favre’s beaten-down status?
The questions leading into the availability of Brett Favre for next week and beyond are only going to ramp themselves up this last week, as he adds a busted-up chin that required eight stitches to a pair of broken bones in his foot, a surgically repaired ankle and tendinitis in his throwing elbow. The list is growing and is starting to look suspiciously like Gus Frerotte from 2008.
The 2008 Vikings got off to a 0-2 start with Tarvaris Jackson as their QB. He was benched in favor of Frerotte, who was named the starter for the rest of the season after the 0-2 start. More accurately, he was named the starter for as long as his ailing body would hold up. As it turned out, it wasn’t the full season.
Four times Frerotte got dragged off the field to be replaced by Jackson. It seemed like every game the training staff had to come out at some point to help him off the field. You start to get the sense the same will happen with Favre. As he left the field, Favre needed physical assistance on both sides to keep his balance. Call it getting your bell rung, but that would likely have to border on a concussion question.
Of course, at his postgame press conference Favre said he can’t explain his ability to heal during the week and thought he played well considering how much time he missed. That admission may be the problem as it begins to fume. Does Brad Childress have the fortitude to end Favre’s streak if he is convinced Tarvaris Jackson can get the job done?
“I was shocked that I was able to play and move around the way I was. My prayers were answered,” Favre said. “I wanted the chance to play. I wanted the chance to play and play at a high enough level to give us a chance to
win. That was my main concern, which it would be if you were (Childress) or anyone else.”
But the rhetorical question has been posed by many, “Would you rather have Favre at 75 percent or Jackson at 100 percent?” That question is staring Brad Childress in the face. With the unexpected win by the Packers and the Lions’ home win over the Redskins, just as Week 5 had been a dream week, Week 8 was a nightmare scenario. The Vikings can’t afford to lose any more ground – at this point, one has to believe that it will take a 10-6 record to make the playoffs. If Favre can’t practice and is stiff when he plays, are the Vikings better off with Jackson?
When Favre got knocked out of the game after being hit in the jaw, Jackson showcased what he does. His first play was an easy TD flip to Naufahu Tahi, but the two-point conversion pass to Percy Harvin had to be perfect and it was. That was good news, along with an impressive 33-yard scramble, but with Good T-Jack came Bad T-Jack.
Trailing by 10 points with 1:56 to play, it was unlikely the Vikings could rally, but there was a pulse. On the first play, the Patriots blitzed Jackson and, as is his wont to do, he held the ball high over his head when a player grabbed his waist. He has been known to fumble those or throw interceptions in those situations and, despite a couple years of seasoning, that bad tendency surfaced immediately. With time winding down, he threw a 1-yard sideline pass and a check-down over the middle to Toby Gerhart that was guaranteed to kill the clock. With the game still technically on the line, he still had the look of a deer in the headlights.
Few people believed Favre would miss his last start, but it is clear that his list of ailments is mounting. He now officially has injuries from head to toe (or foot) and his next big hit could be his last. It seemed only fitting that Steve Hutchinson attempted to hoist Favre up by the back of his jersey. The mind was willing. The flesh was weak.
“It has been so long since I haven't played that I expect to play. I don't expect to get eight stitches in my
chin - that is a first time,” he said. “I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't expect to get hurt, but when I do I expect to bounce back.”
Given Favre’s self-deprecating bravado following the game, it seems clear that he will be expecting to start next week against Arizona – “I’m in it to win it” he said after the game – but this time it may not be his call. He kept his streak alive at 292 straight starts Sunday. The power may revert to Childress next week, but he sounds a like coach willing to stick with battered Brett.
“Let's have a little history, let's look a little bit back. You could probably venture, take a little guess, whether you thought he would go,” Childress said. “I think (he) probably takes a swing at it next week. What do you think?”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.