Debunking Favre to Philly and Examining Eagles Backup Plan by Matt Lombardo

There has been a lot of “Favre to Philly Talk ” around, but Taking It to the House isn’t buying it

The next four days figure to be the busiest in NFL history as nearly 1,600 moves are expected to be made across the league in less time than it takes to wait between regular season games. Simultaneously, training camps across the country will be opening and players reporting as rosters are finalized by sure to be sleep deprived general managers.

Assuming the Eagles deal Kevin Kolb toArizonaor elsewhere, which they are expected to do in short order once the league year begins. All signs point to Kolb landing inArizonain exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and possibly a draft pick. With that in mind, many wonder what Andy Reid and company will do to address the backup quarterback position.

On Saturday night Howard Eskin reported on NBC10 in Philadelphiathat the Eagles have interest in former Viking, Jet and Packer Brett Favre. The report was given some credence on Sunday when Michael Vick tweeted “I would be honored to have Brett Farve as a backup. That will be amazing Learning how to toy with defenses the way he did his whole career.” However, Vick conspicuously deleted the Tweet hours later.

Not to discredit Eskin and his story, but this move isn’t one that works for either side, and after speaking with several sources looks to be the longest of long shots.

There’s no doubt that The Eagles are in the market for a quarterback given that Vick hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2006. However, Favre may be the least logical solution of any available signal caller. The thought of the 42 year old veteran winding up inmidnightgreen is predicated on him being content in a backup role for the first time in his career.

Let’s just say that’s highly unlikely.

Some point to Favre joining the Eagles to mentor Vick, which is a ridiculous notion in and of itself. Vick has been a starter at a high level in the NFL for eight years, well past the point in his career when he would benefit from the tutelage of a player who plays the quarterback position as differently as one can imagine from him. Besides, lets not forget that this is the same Favre who had no interest in mentoring Aaron Rodgers when the Packers used a first round draft choice on the eventual Super Bowl MVP in 2005.

Eagles beat writer Les Bowen used his Eagletarian blog Sunday to bring some logic to the situation saying “why would Favre want to hold a clipboard in Philly? The money, under the tighter new cap, wouldn’t be lavish. His ego is as legendary as his arm,” Bowen said. “The only way he comes out of retirement for this job is if he thinks he somehow ends up at the helm of a Super Bowl contender, and even that scenario assumes Favre has some interest in trying to play again. Vick doesn’t need this. The Eagles don’t need this.”

While it isn’t a stretch to foresee Favre holding the NFL hostage once more and un-retire again, the situation in Philadelphiais far from an ideal one for him to rewrite is farewell story.

However, The Eagles have options they’ll likely pursue in the free agent frenzy to fill their need for a backup quarterback. Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger and Tarvaris Jackson are all available in one form or another if Philadelphia chooses not to entrust Mike Kafka as Vick’s top understudy. Given Vick’s reckless abandon under center, and the ‘win now’ mentality permeating fromOne NovaCare Way, undoubtedly the birds will at least kick the tires on some or all of these options as an insurance policy.

Young has been an enigma in recent years, going so far as leaving the team in 2008 and disappearing after being booed by his home fans in a loss to the Jaguars. Then Titans coach Jeff Fisher ultimately coaxed Young back to the team. Last season in 11 games Young threw for 1,255 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions for the Titans.  Tennessee is expected to release Young shortly after the league reopens for business and he would be an attractive option for the Eagles once he becomes available.

Andy Reid has developed a reputation for both developing outstanding play from the quarterback position and also as a mastermind at overseeing reclamation projects at that position. Both of which would certainly benefit Young, who despite the questions surrounding his motivation, still has the raw talent to succeed in the right situation.

“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if [The Eagles] acquired Vince Young after the Titans cut him.” Said a source close to the team.

Meanwhile, Bulger will likely draw interest from teams such as the Dolphins, Seahawks, Browns, Redskins and others as a starter and probably would not settle for a backup position. Yet his familiarity with the West Coast Offense and the allure of playing for a contender could put the Eagles in play if the former Ram who spent last season backing up Joe Flacco inBaltimorefails to land a starting gig. Bulger hasn’t been a full time starter since 2008 when he completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,720 yards, 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for the Rams.

Should the Cardinals fail to deliver the kind of bounty the Eagles are seeking for Kolb, the Seahawks could make a push to acquire him. The Seahawks brass could also turn the keys to the franchise over to Charlie Whitehurst who is currently the only quarterback on their roster. One thing is certain though, Hasselbeck will not take another snap inSeattle.

Like Bulger, Hasselbeck is attractive to teams in need of a starter. The 35 year old spent his entire career in the West Coast Offense and has ties to Reid. The Eagles could certainly do worse than Hasselbeck’s 3,000 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago, stepping in should Vick fall to injury.

Finally there’s Jackson who would likely make the easiest transition to the Eagles offense since he played under former birds offensive coordinator Brad Childress inMinnesota.Jacksonhas been a part time player in recent years but at 28 and being the most mobile of the available quarterbacks, he’s an intriguing option especially given his familiarity with the Eagles system.

Clearly the Eagles have plenty of options available to back up Vick once the league reopens and the free agent shuffle kicks into high gear. One thing is almost certain though, Favre is not a fit and there is certainly a higher upside to any of the other signal callers on the market.

 

 

Matt Lombardo is a reporter and host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL

 

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2010 NFL Season – Week 6 Preview

RB Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings (1-3) will host the Dallas Cowboys (1-3) in a key Week 6 match-up being called “The Desperation Bowl”

I am dubbing Week 6 of the 2010 NFL Season, “Moving Week”.  This is the time where teams start to distinguish themselves as “Contenders” and “Pretenders”.  Teams will either soon be preparing for key November and December games with playoff implications or eventually start their studying  for the 2011 NFL Draft.  As hard as it is to believe, the NFL season is moving closer to being half over.  But the important thing for everyone is to enjoy the wackiest and quickest league around while it is lasts. 

There clearly is a sense of high anticipation for Week 6 of the 2010 NFL Season.  Some great storylines for this week are the return of Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger from his 4-game suspension (Steelers host Cleveland), Brett Favre’s alleged “Sexting” incident investigation, coaches fighting to stay off the “Hot Seat” (fill-in Carolina’s John Fox, Browns Eric Mangini and the Niners’ Mike Singletary), the Return of Receiver Deion Branch to New England and most importantly on the field there are 8 match-ups where teams at .500 or better will be playing each other. 

Already the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins have celebrated their past perfection as there are not any undefeated teams left – hard to believe a record five teams were 5-0 entering Week 6 in 2009.   Parity is extremely prevalent as there are currently 20 teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better….so please let the sorting out begin.  However from week to week, you don’t know which supposed “powerhouse” is going to be falling back to the pack as “Any Given Sunday” still rules.  In Week 5, it was the former 2009 AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals’ turn to get upset.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on the road in a “Mission Impossible” situation and shocked many by producing a hard-fought 24-21 win over the highly favored Bengals.

The current standings show that there is little separation in this parity-laden league.   There are the “Elite” teams at (4-1) are the NY Jets, Ravens, Falcons, Bears (4 teams) along with (3-1) teams Chiefs, Bucs, Steelers, Patriots (4 teams) – Is anyone penciling any of these teams in Super Bowl XLV?; The “Contenders” at (3-2) are Colts, Jags, Eagles, Redskins, NY Giants, Titans, Cardinals, Texans, Saints, and Packers; The “Stuck In the Middle” teams at (2-2) are the Seahawks, Dolphins  along with (2-3) teams Rams, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos, and Bengals; The “Pretenders” currently stuck  at (1-3) are the Vikings and Cowboys (will play this week) along with (1-4) teams  the Lions and Browns; and of course bringing up the rear are the “Putrid” teams at (0-5) (i.e. You should just skip to the 2011 NFL Draft) Panthers, Bills, and Niners.

The division leaders after 5 weeks feature also have some unexpected surprises — Washington Redskins (NFC East – 3 teams at 3-2 in this division), Chicago Bears (NFC North), Atlanta Falcons (NFC South), Arizona Cardinals (NFC West), Baltimore Ravens (AFC North), Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West), New York Jets (AFC East), and Tennessee Titans (AFC South – Every team in AFC South is 3-2). Sadly some of my division winner picks from my 2010 predictions are not looking too well – they were the Cowboys, Niners, Packers, Saints, Ravens, Broncos, Colts, and Patriots – but it ain’t over yet. Brash New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said of his team’s current place in the NFL standings, “We’re 4-1 and right on schedule.  We want to have the best record in the NFL at the end of the season and right now we’re on schedule”.

The factor that everyone hopes will lead to more competitive games is “adjustments”.  The NFL is a copycat league where teams can catch-up quickly and adjustments are the only way to stay ahead of the pack and combat falling behind.  With the third round of bye weeks about to take place, it is time for the “good” coaches to make the adjustments necessary to get their teams back on track or keeping them at the top.  Remember early season results are important (don’t want to get too far behind), but good coaches realize that they want their team peaking in the championship months of November and December when it is playoff push time.

But as usual I am cautioning NFL fans to not jump off their respective teams’ bandwagons.  All is not lost for most NFL teams going into Week 6 –- well at least those with 1 or more wins…yes even the in-fighting Dallas Cowboys (1-3) still can turn things around.  Since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 11 teams have rebounded from being at least three games under .500 after the season’s first five weeks or later to qualify for the postseason.  Of those 11, six won their division, including the 2008 San Diego Chargers, who won the AFC West after a 4-8 start.  Also in 2008, the Indianapolis Colts record stood at 3-4 going into a crucial game against the New England Patriots. Quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts answered the bell winning 18-15 then rattled off nine straight wins to make the playoffs with a 12-4 record.

Some match-ups already being discussed around water coolers are:

Kansas City Chiefs (3-1) at Houston Texans (3-2) – The old Texans — KC Chiefs were once the AFL’s Dallas Texans — take on the new Texans.  Both these teams are looking to make the jump into “legitimate” contenders.  The Chiefs definitely want to show the NFL that they are not done yet after suffering their first loss last week to the Colts by a score of 19-9.  Kansas City will need better quarterback play from Matt Cassel while the Texans better find a running game, if Arian Foster can’t go. LV’s Pick – Texans

Indianapolis Colts (3-2) at Washington Redskins (3-2) – This one is a battle of two veteran quarterbacks as Peyton Manning faces-off with Donovan McNabb.  The Redskins have been winning “ugly” and continue to play very good defense plus former Pro Bowl DT Albert Haynesworth will be back after attending the funeral of his brother.  While the Colts may have turned the corner after a physical win over the Chiefs last week.  Indy still needs to run the ball better and play better on defense to get the win.  LV’s Pick – Colts

Miami Dolphins (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-2) – The physical Dolphins will want to establish the run behind RB’s Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams – possibly some Wildcat — against the Packers’ injury depleted defense.  The Packers’ offense will definitely be without their two top tight ends and possibly quarterback Aaron Rodgers (concussion), so it will be interesting to see how they generate points on offense against the Dolphins attacking defense.  LV’s Pick – Packers

Atlanta Falcons (4-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) – The young Falcons want to show the NFL that they are indeed a top team as quarterback Matt Ryan returns to Philly.  Look for Atlanta to pound the ball with RB Michael Turner (NFL’s 2nd ranked rushing attack) against the Eagles’ 25th ranked run defense – No DT Broderick Bunkley (elbow).  For the Eagles expect to see starter Kevin Kolb again as Michael Vick (rib cartilage) is too beat-up to face his old team.  Maybe Kolb will be able to get back in synch with WR’s Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. But the Eagles’ O-line is banged-up including LT Jason Peters (knee) being out.  LV’s Pick – Falcons

Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at New England Patriots (3-1) – The top undercard bout to the Cowboys-Vikings main event as two teams that met in the 2009 Wildcard round renew acquaintances.  In last year’s playoff game, the Ravens pounded the Patriots in a 33-14 victory, in particularly QB Tom Brady (2 INTs and 1 fumble in the loss), but this looks like a different New England team.  Expect a physical black-and-blue battle.  The team that can most effectively run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense is going to win this game.  Watch for the match-up of the Ravens LB’s (3rd ranked NFL defense) and the Patriots offensive line.  Surprisingly the Patriots are 5-0 in the regular season against Baltimore. LV’s Pick – Ravens

Lloyd’s Leftovers

NFL Trade Deadline is approaching – Wednesday October 19th is the NFL Trade Deadline and for the first time in a while, there is some “buzz” around the date.  Already the NFL saw the trades sending former New England Patriots WR Randy Moss – along with a 7th rounder — to the receiver-desperate Minnesota Vikings for a 3rd rounder in 2011.  Watch for the names like Chargers holdout WR Vincent Jackson, New England Patriots holdout OG Logan Mankins, Philadelphia Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Mike Sims-Walker, and Green Bay Packers LB AJ Hawk.  Speaking of holdouts V. Jackson and Mankins, the NFLPA has instructed them to report to their respective teams in order to not lose an accrued season of service — the deadline for Mankins is November 16. Of course I never hold my breath around the trade deadline, as trades like the 2005 deal where former Niners QB Tim Rattay went to the Tampa Bay Bucs for a future 6th rd pick are usually the norm.

Next Man Up – Whether in training camp or Super Bowl week, injuries are always going to be an unfortunate part of the NFL….and owners are pushing for an 18-game regular season (yeah right!), but that is a conversation for another time.   Some key injuries that will have to be dealt with leading up to Week 6 are Rams WR Mark Clayton – Knee (season), Chargers OLB Larry English – Foot, Packers TE Jermichael Finley – MCL (season??), Packers QB Aaron Rodgers – Concussion, Lions WR Calvin Johnson – Shoulder, Colts RB Joseph Addai – Shoulder, Texans RB Arian Foster – Knee, Browns RB Peyton Hillis – Quad, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant – Ankle, Browns QB Seneca Wallace – Ankle, Browns QB Jake Delhomme – Ankle, Packers OLB Clay Matthews – Hamstring, NY Jets CB Darrelle Revis – Hamstring, Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley – Elbow (season??), and Eagles OT Jason Peters – Knee (season??).  However some good news on the injury front is that Baltimore Ravens S Ed Reed is very close to returning from a hip injury that has sidelined him since the start of the 2010 season.

Just Send Him to the Hall – It may have not been a masterpiece, but Arizona Cardinals quarterback Max Hall (25) did just enough to get his first win — over the New Orleans Saints by a score of 30-20 – in his first NFL start. The nephew of former Dallas Cowboys QB Danny White finished the game with passing numbers: 17 of 27 for 168 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT.  The former BYU star became the first undrafted rookie free agent quarterback to start and win against the defending Super Bowl champs in more than 42 years, since the Steelers’ Kent Nix did it against Green Bay on Dec. 17, 1967.  Cardinals’ teammate WR Larry Fitzgerald exaggeratingly praised his new quarterback by saying, ‘He’s 29 years old, man”.  Fitzgerald added, ‘He’s the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL. He’s been on his mission for about 10 years, then he went back to BYU, he went to ASU, he was a sixth-year senior out here at Mountain View, he’s been at it for a long time.’
 

Further Proof that the NFL is a Pass-First League — Quarterbacks Philip Rivers (1,759) of the San Diego Chargers, Kyle Orton (1,733) of the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning (1,609) of the Indianapolis Colts have each passed for over 1,600 yards in their team’s first five games in the 2010 NFL Season.  The pass-happy quarterbacks have made history as for the first time in the NFL, there are three quarterbacks with at least 1,600 passing yards through their team’s first five games of a season.
 

Week 6 Feature Game

DALLAS COWBOYS (1-3) at MINNESOTA VIKINGS (1-3) (Sunday, FOX, 4:00 PM ET) – Mall of America Field    

Broadcast Team: Thom Brennanaman, Troy Aikman, Chris Myers and Pam Oliver (Field Reporter)

High anxiety will be in the air at the Metrodome in a game that everyone is appropriately dubbing “The Desperation Bowl”.  This game is a rematch of the 2009 NFL Divisional Playoffs (won handily by the Vikings 34-3).  But this early season game has taken on an even bigger aurora as both the Cowboys and Vikings enter this game with a record of 1-3.  Though a “lose” in this match-up is technically not a death sentence, there will be little hope for the loser — Since 1990 only five out of 240 playoff teams have started with a record of 1-4, which is only 2 % . Especially when both teams entered the 2010 NFL Season with extremely high hopes. 

An expected raucous crowd should be hyped for this “Loser Leaves Town” match-up and a big reason will be each team’s respective quarterback.  In last year’s playoff lose, the Cowboys QB Tony Romo (sacked 6 times and hit often in the playoff loss) was a disaster and had trouble dealing with pressure brought from the Vikings’ D-line, especially DE Jared Allen.  It will be incumbent on the Cowboys’ shaky offensive line (allowed 6 sacks in Week 5 loss to the Titans) to protect Romo (119-174, 1346 yards (2nd in NFC), 7 TDs and 5 INTs) this time around.  The key person on the offensive line will be OG Montrae Holland who is replacing benched inconsistent high-price tag player Leonard Davis (seven-year, $49 million contract). Romo will definitely be trying to get the ball to his stellar receiving corps of TE Jason Witten, rookie WR Dez Bryant (ankle), WR Roy Williams, and Pro Bowl WR Miles Austin (31 receptions for NFC-leading 474 yards, 15.3 ypr, and 2 TDs). 

But in my opinion, the Cowboys would be best served by slowing down the Vikings speedy attacking defense by re-establishing their dormant rushing attack — Felix Jones leads the team with only 197 rushing yards and 0 TDs.  Surprisingly even with head coach Wade Phillips on Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones’ Hot Seat, young offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has chosen to put the ball in the air over and over instead of going to his three-headed monster of Jones, Marion Barber, and Tashard Choice.  Romo has averaged 43.5 attempts per game including a high of 47 in a Week 1 loss to the Redskins.  The Cowboys must bring back forgotten player, Barber (has just six carries in 2010), to have any chance to win this game. However finding holes against the Vikings D-line led by the Williams Wall (DT’s Pat and Kevin Williams) will not be easy.

However everyone knows that Romo is a just a “bit” player in this marquee match-up as the NFL’s media circus has descended on Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.  To say the least the 2010 NFL Season has been a nightmare for No. 4.  The 41-year old passer/grandfather came out of another brief retirement looking recapture his 2009 form, but all hell has broken loose.  Favre (74-131, 861 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs (same number as the entire ’09 season) and a 67.0 quarterback rating) has been battling an elbow injury that clearly has made him “less” than effective in his first 4 games and he is even contemplating sitting out a game or two, which would end his NFL record 289 consecutive games ironman streak.  He has been hit often (sacked every 14 pass plays) and his receiving corps has be decimated by injuries — leading receiver Sidney Rice has been out all season due to hip surgery and former Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin is battling migraine issues. 

Madden’s favorite kid-like quarterback has looked beleaguered, old, and disinterested as his team has stumbled out the gate.  And to make matters worse, the married Favre has been embroiled in an alleged “Sexting” controversy courtesy of his 2008 stay with the NY Jets.  The website Deadspin.com has been driving the story that Favre made inappropriate advances toward former Jets’ reports Jenn Sterger including some salacious voicemails and photos.  The NFL’s favorite future Hall of Famer has tried to stay above the fray, but now the league is getting involved and you know it has to be affecting the 19-year veteran’s play – only was 14 of 34 and had a bad game-closing interception (returned for a TD) in a 29-20 loss to the NY Jets in Week 5.  The good thing is that the Favre does have new buddy, receiver Randy Moss, more acclimated after a whirlwind couple of days last week (traded at mid-week and played against the NY Jets on MNF).  We see if the two can hook-up again after they connected on a 37-yard touchdown against the NY Jets.  Also I want to see if the Vikings equally inconsistent offensive line can stay away from penalties and stop the Cowboys explosive pass rushing tandem DeMarcus Ware (2nd in the NFL with 6 sacks) and Anthony Spencer.  The position on the Vikings’ O-line will be their center position which has not been the same since starter John Sullivan has a calf injury.

As is the case with Romo, the Vikings would be best served giving Favre some run support, especially with his on-going elbow problems.  Outside of Moss and Harvin, the rest of the Vikings receiving corps are “just guys”.  So Minnesota needs to establish running back Adrian Peterson (88 rushes for an NFC leading 480 yards, 5.5 ypc, and 3 TDs plus no fumbles).  The aggressive runner would be the perfect medicine to soften-up the Cowboys speedy 3-4 defense, so Favre doesn’t have to throw the ball over 30 times.   The Cowboys allowed 158 yards rushing last week to the Tennessee Titans in a 34-27 loss. The Cowboys will surely pack the box in order to take away Peterson and make sure that Favre is healthy enough to beat them.  A key player on the Dallas defense should be run stuffer and emotional defensive leader, ILB Keith Brooking. The 13-year veteran is fighting mad after he registered one solo tackle in the Cowboys’ playoff loss and he also thinks that the Vikings ran the score up in the that game.   The Vikings will also look to attack a Dallas secondary that, outside of veteran CB Terrence Newman, has looked vulnerable at times.

LV’s Pick:  This is a tough game to pick, because these two teams’ backs are against the wall and they also are evenly matched — All-Time Regular Season record is tied at 10-10. This game is almost a pick’em as Minnesota is favored by only a point and a half.  I expect the Cowboys to try to get some pressure on Favre, but they will need to watch Peterson first.  If Peterson gets going, expect play-action from Favre down the field to Moss and Harvin.  Conversely the Cowboys will have to deal with extremely loud crowd noise and fix a shaky O-line to come away with the victory.  As always watch for turnovers — both passers have more than 5 INTs so far this season — and big plays on special teams from both sides.   In making my pick, I believe that the Vikings have too many advantages going in their favornot to win this game (home field, noise, Peterson, a very good D-line going against the Cowboys bad O-line and much more).  Also the Vikings have won 5 of the last 6 regular season games against the Cowboys.  Expect some high scoring as Moss and Austin put on a show  – Vikings 31, Cowboys 24

2010 NFL Week 6 Games

Sunday, October 17 

ATL @ PHI, Lincoln Financial Field, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

CLE @ PIT, Heinz Field, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS           

SEA @ CHI, Soldier Field, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

DET @ NYG, New Meadowlands Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

BAL @ NE, Gillette Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

SD @ STL, Edward Jones Dome, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

MIA @ GB, Lambeau Field, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

NO @ TB, Raymond James Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- FOX          

KC @ HOU, Reliant Stadium, 1:00 PM ET —- CBS          

NYJ @ DEN, Invesco Field at Mile High, 4:05 PM ET —- CBS          

OAK @ SF, Candlestick Park, 4:05 PM ET —- CBS          

DAL @ MIN, Mall of America Field, 4:15 PM ET —- FOX          

IND @ WAS, FedEx Field, 8:20 PM ET —- NBC          

Monday, October 18 

TEN @ JAC, Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, 8:30 PM ET —- ESPN          

Byes: Cardinals, Bills, Panthers, Bengals

 

 

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 092010 (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this week’s Taking It to the House NFL Podcast — Everyone is wondering if Vikings QB Brett Favre’s absence for the majority of training camp has affected his team’s play in Weeks 1 and 2, both losses

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 092010 (Part 2)

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance reviews Week 2 of the 2010 season with host Mark Gray including the Minnesota Vikings (0-2) and QB Brett Favre’s slow start

2010 NFL Week 1: Saints-Vikings Preview

The Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings in the 2010 NFL Season Opener (DB Malcolm Jenkins pictured)

The road to Super Bowl XLV (February 6 in Arlington, Texas) begins tonight as the 91st season of the National Football League kicks off. For the seventh consecutive season, the Super Bowl champion will open the slate as the champion New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of last year’s thrilling NFC Championship game (Sept. 9 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC). 

The game will mark the official kickoff of America’s favorite sport including a concert by Grammy Winners and fireworks.  And trust me….all of the hoopla is definitely worth it as Week 1 of the NFL season is almost at the level of most United States’ holidays.  Football fans everywhere have waited months to quench their thirst for “real” NFL game action since the Super Bowl in February and now it is finally here.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Thursday, NBC, 8:30 PM ET) 

Broadcast Team: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Andrea Kremer (Field Reporter)

The first game of the 2010 NFL Season features two of the NFL’s best passers, Saints QB Drew Brees and Vikings QB Brett Favre squaring off in a highly anticipated game. I am sure the “Who Dat” Nation” will pack the Superdome – expected crowd of 71,000 – to see the rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game.  In that game, the Saints’ won a hard fought battle 31-28 in overtime on a 40-yard game-winning field goal by kicker Garrett Hartley.   Though the Championship Game was an “Instant Classic”, the great ending helped you forget some earlier sloppy play.  There were 9 fumbles (4 lost) and 2 interceptions between both teams including five turnovers by the Vikings. 

But after an offseason of the Saints basking their Super Bowl glory and the Vikings finally learning that future Hall of Fame quarterback was indeed coming back, everything starts anew with the scoreboard reading 0-0.  Though both teams have had some injuries, additions, and defections since last January’s meeting, pretty much their nucleuses and plan of attack should remain the same.  You should expect a ton of scoring as both teams were the NFL’s Top-2 scoring teams last year.  Though the quarterbacks are the marquee players, I do believe the team that can run the ball more effectively and gets the most defensive pressure is going to win this game. 

The Vikings are more than just Favre (363-531, 4202 yards, 33 TDs, 7 INTs, and a rating of 107.2 – best QB rating of his career) but the 40-year old grandfather/passer may have to take on a larger load as injuries have been tough on the Vikes this offseason.  Their biggest offensive loss has to be Pro Bowl WR Sidney Rice, who is expected to miss at least 6 weeks with a hip injury.  However Vikings head coach Brad Childress still will have other offensive weapons at his disposal including Rookie of the Year explosive receiver Percy Harvin (migraines), Bernard Berrian, TE Visante Schiancoe, and latest-but-not-least RB Adrian Peterson (ran for 122 yards and three touchdowns in NFC Championship Game, but also lost two fumbles).  The Pro Bowl runner will no longer be sharing carries with Chester Taylor (Chicago Bears) so you can expect a 20+ carry night from Childress’ workhorse. Peterson has worked diligently on fumbling problems that plagued him last season — 20 total fumbles in 3 years including 7 in ’09 — so watch for tough runs behind Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson in short yardage and goal-line situations. 

The main key for me, will be seeing if the Saints defense can continue to beat-up and rattle Favre –- named a captain for the 2010 season —  as they did in the two teams’ last meeting.  In that game, Favre was never sacked but he was constantly hit and thrown to the ground –- left bruised and had a balky ankle that needed offseason surgery.  The pressure caused the 3-time MVP to get happy feet and to throw passes quickly rather than taking sacks.  The biggest play of the game, was of course caused by pressure initiated from Saints’ defensive mastermind Gregg Williams.  With the game tied 28-28 late in the fourth quarter, Favre sensing pressure, attempted a risky cross-field pass that was intercepted by Saints DB Tracy Porter (19 seconds left in the game) caused the game to go to overtime and we know how it ended. After the game Favre, said “I’ve felt better…It was a physical game. A lot of hits. You win that and you sure feel a lot better.”   So you know, No. 4 will want to wipe that horrible loss from his mouth in the 2010 opener.  But you have to wonder how ready he will be after missing the majority of training camp (reported on August 18th) and only playing in a few series of preseason game action.

Williams’ defense, led by MLB Jonathan Vilma (groin) and DT Sedrick Ellis, must get the loud Bayou crowd going to get Favre (ankle) and his high flying offense out of sync. It will be interesting to see how the Saints’ defense fares as S Darren Sharper (PUP list w/ knee injury), DE Charles Grant (Miami), DE Bobby McCray (released) and others will not be with the unit.  Expect to see a lot of the New Orleans great secondary –- 3rd in the NFL in takeaways/giveaways (+11) — in press coverage with S Malcolm Jenkins, first rounder CB Patrick Robinson, SS Roman Harper, and Porter (knee) leading the way in stopping Favre’s multitude of weapons.

On offense the Saints, ranked No. 1 in the NFL with an average of 403.8 yards per game in 2009, need to continue their explosiveness from last year -– scored a franchise record 510 points.  Of course, the number one player that Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will be targeting is Super Bowl XLIV MVP, Saints QB Drew Brees (2009 numbers: 363-514, 4388 yards, league-leading 34 TDs, 11INTs and a league-best 109.6 passer rating).  But the Saints have much more than just Brees on offense.  They have a physical offensive line led by Pro Bowl RT Jon Stinchcomb and probably the best offensive guard in the league, Jahri Evans.  Plus a ton of fantasy football dream skill players including WR Marques Colston (kidney), RB Pierre Thomas, TE Jeremy Shockey, and others.

I think the player that probably deserves most of the Vikings’ attention, other than Brees, is explosive jitterbug running back Reggie Bush.  He may not soon have his Heisman Trophy, but there is no doubting Bush’s game-breaking ability.  “He’s a guy who can change the game,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton.  Surely the Vikings’ veteran defense led by Pro Bowl corner Antoine Winfield and All-World pass rusher Jared Allen (14.5 sacks to lead the NFC) will look to rattle Brees before he can get the ball to his speedy receivers (Colston, Bush, Robert Meachem and others).  You can also expect Payton to most likely help Brees by using his two-headed backfield monster of Bush and Thomas against the Vikings D-line led by the Williams Wall (DT’s Pat and Kevin Williams). 

LV’s Pick:  This is a tough game, because both teams have a ton of weapons offensively and it is so early in the season.  In their overall regular season series, the Vikings lead by a count of 18-7.  But the Saints’ record at home since 2008 is 14-4 and Super Bowl Champs are 6-0 in the last six NFL openers.   The “X” factors of running the football and getting to the quarterback will be paramount in this match-up.  Though I expect a big game from a motivated Peterson, I still believe that Favre will be “rusty” after missing most of the preseason.  You can expect a high-scoring game, but the Saints, especially Payton and Brees, want to show the world that last year was not a “fluke”. The Saints home crowd will be rocking as their team opens their Super Bowl defense with a win -– Saints 31, Vikings 27

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 82310 – Segment #1

We knew it was coming….The return of Vikings QB Brett Favre is one of the Top Stories in this week’s podcast – Segment 1

Taking It to the House 8-23-10 Podcast – Segment  #1

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance talks about the top stories from 2010 NFL Preseason with host Mark Gray including Vikings QB Brett Favre finally making his training camp/preseason debut

Let the Flip Flopping Begin: The NFL is waiting for Brett Favre’s Decision Again

Brett Favre’s “Thank You” note to fans on his website has started speculation once again whether he will or will not retire

Immediately after the Minnesota Vikings’ disappointing Championship Round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion, New Orleans Saints, everyone wanted to know what was Vikings quarterback Brett Favre’s decision on the 2010 NFL Season. 

Even after throwing another heartbreaking interception to end another season –  Favre the last 3 seasons while playing for the Packers, NY Jets, and Vikings has ended his year by throwing an interception  – the graybeard wanted to focus more on the fun that he had competing against the Saints with the youngster Vikings.  However it now looks like another offseason and another flip-flopping affair for the “John Wayne” of quarterbacks. 

As only he could do, Favre left a thank-you note to his fans on his official Web site, acknowledging their support during his 19th season. Of course there was no exact indication of his future plans.  There were only vague statements like, “Regardless of what the future holds, I want everyone to know that I will cherish the memories of the past year for the rest of my life”.  You could tell from Favre’s message that retirement may have been on his mind again.  But like the last three offseasons, it will be see you in the spring or summer for any decision. 

The Vikings have said, via GM Rick Spielman, that they will allow Favre to take his time to decide.  “I think you go ahead and let Brett decide what he wants to do,” Spielman said. “I know the organization, from our ownership, from our coaches and I think from our fans out there, we’d love to have Brett Favre back for another year and see if we can make another run at this.” And who could blame the Vikings for leaving the ball in Favre’s court. 

The 2009 NFL Season truly was a bounce-back season for Favre.  There wasn’t even a hint of the worn-down gunslinger from the 2008 season that the New York Jets threw on the scrap heap after Favre threw an NFL-high 22 interceptions with the J-E-T-S losing down the stretch to miss the playoffs. 

The 3-time NFL MVP looked like a legitimate candidate for a fourth honor as he led the Vikings to a 12-4 regular season record (second seed in the NFC) and Minnesota won the NFC North title plus came within a 31-28 overtime loss of making the Super Bowl. 

Individually, Favre arguably had his best season statistically in his 19-year NFL career.  He completed 68.4% of his passes for 4202 yards, 33 touchdowns, a career-low 7 interceptions, and a 107.2 passer rating.  Those numbers were good enough for Favre to make his 11th Pro Bowl, though he took a pass on the actual game as he recovered from the battering that the Saints delivered to him in the playoffs. 

Even though I made a pact a couple of offseasons ago that I would not try to predict what Brett Favre would do.  In this “one” circumstance, I will try to read the tea leaves surrounding this surefire Hall of Famer.  Despite Favre taking a vicious beating at the hands of the Saints in the NFC Championship Game, I still believe that he still has the competitive fire to play. 

The Vikings were a drastically improved team last season and should be considered Super Bowl contenders again in 2010.  Plus the team rallied around Favre all season as he made players around him like receiver Greg Lewis better — remember his game-winning catch against the Niners in Week 3.  There also is the little matter of the 40-year old having one-year remaining on his two-year contract with a base 2010 salary of $13 million dollars.

The key to me will be how long the Vikings are willing to wait for an answer.  You have to wonder if they will want to know by the 2010 NFL Draft — scheduled from April 22-24 – because that’s when teams map out their future direction.  The real fun will be, if Favre does indeed finally retire and sticks to it (doubt it).  The Vikings would then have to look to either make a trade (current Eagles QB’s Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick prime targets) or turn over the reins to one of their inconsistent backups, Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels.

Anyway stay tuned for the next installment of “As the Favre Turns”, because this melodrama is not going away anytime soon. 

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Playoffs – NFC Championship Game

Quarterback Drew Brees leads the home team Saints against the Vikings in the NFC Chammpionship Game

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (13-4) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (14-3) (Sunday, FOX, 6:40 PM ET) 

Broadcast Team: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Chris Myers and Pam Oliver (Field Reporter)

This features two of the NFL’s best passers, Saints QB Drew Brees and Vikings QB Brett Favre squaring off in a highly anticipated offensive pinball type game.  This meeting marks the 5th time in NFL history top-2 scoring teams in NFL meet in Conference Championship Game.  Minnesota since signing veteran Brett Favre before the season has pointed to playoffs for the future Hall of Famer to make a difference and against the Dallas Cowboys last week, he paid dividends by producing a 34-3 dominating win.

Though the quarterbacks are the marquee players, I believe the team that can run the ball more effectively and gets the most defensive pressure is going to win this game.  The Vikings are more than just Favre (363-531, 4202 yards, 33 TDs – 2nd in the NFL, 7 INTs, and a rating of 107.2 – second in the NFL) as the 40-year old passer has many offensive weapons at his disposal including Rookie of the Year explosive receiver Percy Harvin, Pro Bowl receiver Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian, and TE Visante Schiancoe. But don’t forget the key part of the Vikings offense is their formerly ground-churning running attack led by Pro Bowl RB Adrian Peterson – hasn’t been over 100 yards rushing in 8 games — and a huge offensive line built around Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson. 

The main key for me will be the Saints (+ 11 in turnover ratio, placing them 3rd in the NFL) ability to rattle Favre as the veteran will make mistakes when he is harassed – threw over 20 INTs last year for the NY Jets.  New Orleans will have their hands full as they will be missing pass rusher Charles Grant, who is on I/R, but expect veteran safety and former Packers Favre teammate Darren Sharper (9 INTs) to spearhead New Orleans’ defensive effort.   Gregg Williams’ Saints defense will also have the 70,000 plus Super Dome noisy crowd behind them to rattle Favre and the Vikings high flying offense. “There’s no fan base that deserves a championship more than New Orleans and the ‘Who Dat’ nation,” said Brees.  “Just the bond that we have with them is special.  They give us strength.  They give us motivation.  We want to do it for them.”

On offense the Saints, ranked No. 1 in the NFL with an average of 403.8 yards per game, need to find their explosiveness that allowed them to score over 500 points this season (510).  Though the Saints struggled down the stretch (lost last 3 regular season games), Brees and rest of the team proved last week against the Cowboys (dominated in a 45-14 win) that these are the new-look Saints in the postseason – now have an all-time 3-6 postseason record. The Super Dome will be rocking as it should be a Mardis Gras type atmosphere for the home team Saints and their raucous fans. 

The Saints offense has many weapons (WR Marques Colston, RB Mike Bell, TE Jeremy Shockey, and others), but last week they re-discovered explosive jitterbug running back Reggie Bush.  The former Heisman winner got the home crowd on their feet as he produced 217 total yards and became just the second player in NFL postseason history to score a touchdown on a rush and punt return in the same game.  “He’s a guy who can change the game,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton.  Surely the Vikings’ veteran defense led by Pro Bowl corner Antoine Winfield and All-World pass rusher Jared Allen (14.5 sacks to lead the NFC) will look to rattle Brees before he can get the ball to his speedy receivers (Colston, Bush, Robert Meachem and others).  And Saints head coach Sean Payton will probably look to help Brees by using their three-headed backfield monster of Bell, Bush, and Pierre Thomas against the Vikings D-line led by the Williams Wall (DT’s Pat and Kevin Williams). 

These two teams are meeting in the postseason for the 3rd time with the Vikings currently holding a 2-0 advantage.  In the overall regular season series, the Vikings lead that too by a count of 18-7.

LV’s Pick:  This is a tough game, because both teams have a ton of weapons offensively.  But the two “X” factors of running the football and getting to the quarterback will be prevalent.  I still believe the Vikings’ defense, led by Allen, can get to Brees as the Saints O-line has been a little leaky since losing LT Jamal Brown.  Expect a motivated Peterson to show-up and for Favre to be relaxed in his 5th NFC Championship Game (current record of 2-2).  The Saints home crowd should make it tough on the Vikings, but I believe Minnesota is more ready to go to the Super Bowl –Vikings 31, Saints 27

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)