Here we go again. Brett Favre has informed the Vikings front office that he will not play in 2010. Now, most of the aticles that will come up in the next few days will deal with the possibility/probability that Favre changes his mind.
I'm going to go in a different direction here and assume that he will remain retired, focusing instead on the question of how a Favre retirement changes the dynamics of the NFC North.
As of yesterday, the assumption was arguably that the NFC North was the most QB packed division in the league. I would propose that, with Stafford being largely unproven and Favre retiring, the division is much less solid at the position than has been propagated.
Now, Aaron Rodgers, like him or not, is a bona fide elite QB. Jay Cutler has some questions surrounding him as to whether he can succeed without Mike Shanahan, but he's played at a pro bowl level in the past and is considered by some one of the NFLs top 10 QBs, though the point in one of contention.
But Matthew Stafford had his ups and downs in his inaugural season before exiting due to injury. While he showed some signs of ability, his decision making at times was lackluster. Some of this, of course, was due to the poor shape of the Lions offensive line. Whether that line improves, or Stafford just overcomes the poor play of his blockers, he's going to have to show something more than 13 TDs, 20 INTs and a 53.3% completion percentage to be considered legitimate. General opinion seems to be that he's on the right track though, and I'm willing to give him a break considering the talent level he's surrounded by.
The Vikings become an interesting story at QB with the retirement of Favre. Tarvaris Jackson would be the presumed starter, and his skill set is completely different than that of Favre. Adjustments to the scheme will have to be made. All is not lost for the Vikes, though. Jackson has shown some improvement in limited play last season, and he brings with him an ability to run that wasn't available with Favre. He finally broke the 60% completion ceiling last year, but only threw 21 passes, so the sample size negates the argument. But he has seen an improvement in accuracy each season, going from 58% in '06 to 58.2 % in '07 and 59.1% in '09. Jackson was generally considered to be Michael Vick v2.0 when he was drafted. And that's not all that far off the mark. He has great feet, is wildly inaccurate at times, and hasn't lived up to his billing. But then, Kyle Orton improved quite a bit from those '05 numbers.............can Jackson do the same?
Jackson's only winning season as a starter came in '07. But a lot of his success that year can be attributed to Adrian Peterson as well as the teams stifling run defense. In fact, in the 8-4 run for the Jackson led Vikings, Tarvaris threw only 9 TDs to 12 INTs, he completed only 58.2% of his passes, as noted above, and he averaged only 159.3 yards per game. Those numbers aren't much more impressive than Kyle Ortons '05 line. He did add 260 yards and 3 TDs on the ground, though. Since that time, he was benched for Gus Frerotte (The guy with the funniest sports injury in history!) after the 5th game of the '08 season and then replaced by Brett Favre in the following off-season. Jackson has performed well in clean-up duty since then, but how much weight can you place on that?
Most of the media had Minnesota and GB in a deadlock for the division, but they expected Favre to be back. How does Tarvaris leading the team change the scope?
Hat tip out to Acreman20 for catching me throwing Sage Rosenfels name where I should have been thinking Gus Frerotte! Thanks!