Mar 4, 2008
I heard the Brett Favre news in the car this morning, seconds before I walked into the dentist office. As I sat in the chair, I had to try to reflect on Favre and what’s been going on with his career these last few years. I had to actually think about how I felt because, quite frankly, I’m indifferent. Perhaps we’ve been conditioned to expect and deal with Favre’s (seemingly final) decision to retire. Perhaps I’m distracted because when I feel my bottom lip it feels like a catcher’s mitt
Early in his career, Favre was simply magnificent. He’s always played with a youthful vigor, but I must say I enjoyed that much more when he was actually youthful. It seemed more genuine then, but maybe that’s not Favre’s fault. At something point, probably around the year 2000, the media’s perception of Favre shifted a little and he went from being a star player to living legend. He was romanticized, perhaps to a fault. It got to be a little much. Again, I’m not sure that was Favre’s fault.
Favre’s dealt with a lot of personal adversity, and at times that fact was obvious in his demeanor, body language, even in his words. Watching all that was a bit unsettling at times, save of course for incredible performances such as the MNF game against the Raiders several years ago. According to Favre, he’s leaving the game right now because of the mental strain, and I’ve seen that on his face for years, so part of me feels relieved he’s leaving the game (although I won’t ruled out Favre returning to the NFL).
I do understand where those who say enough is enough on Favre are coming from. It got a little annoying, dealing with the suspense every off-season. Favre recently intimated that he didn’t feel appreciated by the organization, which doesn’t sit well. I must say, some of Favre’s press conferences came across as a bit over the top to me. This was still a man talking about playing a game, yet the feeling came across that Favre and his exploits were more extraordinary than everyone and everything else.
No matter; Favre is gone, at least for now, so it’s time to look at the post-Favre Packers. The one good thing about Favre hanging around is that Aaron Rogers has been able to sit back and absorb a lot of football, watching and learning from Favre the last three year (although it’s very questionable that Favre really gave much of himself to Rogers, at least early in Rogers’ Packer career). Rogers’ slippage in the 2005 NFL draft was a big story, but I felt then that he was a better prospect than Alex Smith, who was taken #1 overall (Rogers fell to #24). Granted, that’s not saying much, but as of today I would definitely rather have Rogers running my team than Smith. Rogers played under QB Guru Jeff Tedford, but that might not be a good thing, since Tedford disciples have flopped in the NFL, other than Trent Dilfer, who was no gemstone. I’m talking about Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, and Kyle Boller, all former #1 picks and all current NFL busts.
Rogers looked terrible in preseason play his first two years, but he seemingly took a big step forward in 2007. In fact, as you likely know, he actually played a large portion of a regular season game midseason against Dallas. In a very tough spot and in a big game, I thought he did a damn good job. He actually reminded me a little of Tony Romo, moving around effectively, threw it accurately, and showed some zip on the ball. The sampling is microscopically small, but it’s better than nothing. And coupled with his clear improvement in practice and in preseason games last year, I give Rogers a chance to settle in as a solid NFL player.
There should be some issues for Rogers early on, but you have to recognize how he’s in a good spot. The o-line did a damn good job last year and is youthful. RB Ryan Grant looks rock solid, and the receiving corps is well above average. Rogers is also in a fantasy-friendly system and he’s considered a very good fit for it. I gotta tell you, while I’m sure there will be some bumps in the road, I think Rogers is ready to play.
Of course, there will be a drop-off from Favre, so there will be a drop-off for all the skill players like Grant, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Donald Lee. We’ll have to see if Rogers has a specific chemistry with one or more of the receivers, and if it looks like one guy in particular will be leaned on more than expected with Rogers in. So while I’m cautiously optimistic on Rogers, the fact remains the Favre news throws a monkey wrench into the ’08 Packer plan. I don’t see how Rogers in is good for any of the key Packers. The good news is this team is advanced and talented enough to handle such a transition, so I wouldn’t assume these guys are dead. But Grant in particular bothers me. Grant’s success in 2007 was in many ways a function of a pass-heavy approach, and success passing the ball. It’s questionable if he can sustain that level of production with a passing game that is sure to struggle at times this year.